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Help today's journalists go "off assignment" and tell the fullest truth.
Help today's journalists go "off assignment" and tell the fullest truth.
512 backers pledged $42,245 to help bring this project to life.

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$42,245

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STRETCH GOAL!

People! We are so grateful to you for helping us reach our first goal: 25K. Thank you.

In this final week, we are striving to reach a crucial stretch goal of 35K. With 25K, we can keep our existing essay series alive and print our magazine. If we reach 35K, though, we can commission and curate six months of “Behind the Feature” columns: our highest ambition. 

We want OA 2.0 to be a platform for highly relevant, truth-telling stories in this era of fake news and weekly political tumult. Hitting this stretch goal may be the most important part of our entire Kickstarter campaign. If you care about deepening journalism today, please help us gun it towards the finish line! 

BACKSTORY

Three years ago, we asked our favorite writers a question: What's your best untold story?

Anyone who has ever shared a drink with a journalist knows the truth: the most surprising, funny and life-changing part of the trip rarely makes it into the narrow confines of an article. Enter Off Assignment: where you find out what really happened on that overnight in Nairobi, that bus ride to Quito. The part that might not be tidy or flattering or even legal, but that that tells a deeper truth, and honors all the ways the world is sure to surprise us, once we surrender to it.

As New York Times editor Damien Cave put it: “When you turn in a story, you feel like you’re only squeezing a third of the lemon.” Off Assignment, a new 501(c)(3) publication, wants to give you those last two-thirds.

But we need your help. Without funding, we can't find and produce the very best OA stories of 2017. Your support enables us to create a weekly web publication and put out a beautiful print volume of the best "off assignment" stories we've gathered to date.

Deep journalism has never been more crucial than it is now in America. "Off Assignment" stories tear down walls; they humanize strangers. Join us in fighting for them.

Here's what we've done so far.

We were a motley crew of storytellers: journalists and travel writers, essayists and photographers. But we shared a common conviction: that we weren't going deep enough. That we needed to challenge the frames of mainstream magazines. 

For three years, we hosted live storytelling nights in New York and San Francisco, featuring writers like Gay Talese, Sloane Crosley, Jack Hitt, Phillip Lopate, Leslie Jamison, Lavinia Spalding, Julia Cooke, Andy Isaacson, David Farley, Anna McDonald, and Suketu Mehta.

Something remarkable happened when we rallied writers together: they told stories that smashed all existing boundaries. They showcased just how many rich and border-defying tales are lurking behind the headlines. And so we began to dream of turning these private salons into a far-reaching magazine, unlike anything in existence. 

BEHIND THE FEATURE

Our aim is to roll out an in-depth "Behind the Feature" story every month, starting in April. We believe that today's reporters face unprecedented challenges and need the space and the impetus to plunge in further. What didn't fit in the front-page article? What was it like to be there, to be them? We're committed to exhuming these stories and giving you a new breed of journalism: raw, candid, digressive and personal. 

For a taste of "Behind the Feature", check out the stunning story Ted Conover wrote for OA: an expose about his reporting travails in Guantanamo Bay. 

LETTER TO A STRANGER

In April, we launched our first online column: "Letter to a Stranger," in which writers pen letters to unforgettable strangers. We're so proud of the letters we've published so far, missives by a wide range of writers like Lauren Groff, Meron Hadero, Matthew Olzmann, Julia Glass, Howard AxelrodWill Boast, Caroline Lester, Aviya Kushnerand Sheba Karim. Every Thursday, a new "Letter" goes live on our site as well as on SoundCloud

TRIPTIONARY

Moving through the world isn't always romantic, and we think the hiccups and headaches of global travel deserve more play. Enter Triptionary, a travel "dictionary" of whimsical phrases.

Now, we need your help to go further.      

We have big dreams for 2017, and the November election has only deepened our resolve to enrich global journalism and support writers in this complex and daunting moment. To pull that off, we need to:

1. Roll out new columns in 2017. Our vision for OA 2.0 is a web publication that plunges you deeper into the current stories that fascinate you most, by getting writers to pause and "go off assignment." In this expanded version of OA 2.0, we'll continue to run our flagship columns like "Letter to a Stranger," while hustling to bring you intimate interviews with the journalists and writers whose work you follow and love. 

2. Build our editorial staff. In order to bring these stories to life, we need a dynamo editorial staff. We have budgeted the majority of our funding towards the hiring of one new editor, but every contribution gives us the chance to bring even more talent and passion on board. 

3. Pay our contributors. We're thrilled that our mission has spoken to writers, and that many have already volunteered their work. But it's more important than ever to support artists, and we simply can't move forward without compensating our creatives. Funding enables us to reach out to a more diverse set of writers, which is essential and urgent to us.

4. Expand our podcast. You can already listen to our "Letters" on SoundCloud, but we're ready to expand this into a full-length podcast, in which today's writers take us behind the scenes. We can't wait to give literal voice to these untold stories, and your support propels this initiative forward at full speed.

Rewards

We are crazy grateful for your support and have designed rewards to spoil you, OA-style: rare stories, handwritten confessions, and a soiree, to get you rad people in the same room. 

Here's a closer look at some of the rewards you can choose from:

THE DEBUT PRINT VOLUME

 

Back this campaign at the $30 level and upwards, and we'll send you a gorgeous print volume of our best OA stories. This collection stitches together our nearly two dozen of the very best works Off Assignment has collected over the past three years, including:

  • "Into the Grey": Legendary travel writer Pico Iyer reveals the story of the haunting stranger he met in Reykjavik. 
  • "My Guantanamo, and Theirs": Ted Conover takes us behind the curtain of his Vanity Fair exposé on Guantanamo Bay.
  • "Letter to a Stranger: Granada, Nicaragua”: Leslie Jamison writes to a one-legged magician who emblazoned in her memory.
  • "First Love": Jon Lee Anderson on his lifelong relationship to Cuba
  • "Just Got Wi-Fi": missives by Rolf Potts and Gideon Lewis-Krauss. 
  • "No Equivalent": poignant essays about what gets lost in translation by Sophie Haigney and Richard Deming. 
  • "The Supposedly Fun Thing": a hell-trip tale by Alex Sheshunoff
  • "Triptionary": a folio of nonsensical travel terms
  • "What I Didn't Say": authors Sara Wheeler and Marcia DeSanctis disclose what they omitted from their popular travel books
  • Photos by Andrew Rowat, and illustrations by Candace Rose Rardon

More than a magazine, this volume is an artifact of a grassroots movement. The stories we've collected are too good not to reach your hands, shelves, coffee tables!

THE AUDIOBOOK

Our talented audio editor at NYU's Literary Reportage program has curated our twenty best "Letter to a Stranger" essays into a gorgeous collection, with three added goodies: a poignant foreword by the creators of "Letter to a Stranger"; Pico Iyer's secret Iceland story, read by Pico himself; and our favorite Triptionary words, recited by Tony Perrottet, whose Aussie accent makes everything ear-candy.

AUTHOR'S CUTS, JOURNALIST'S CONFESSIONS, & TRAVEL WRITER'S SECRETS

We've invited some of our favorite writers to go "off assignment" on their own works, leaving little treasures in the margins for you to enjoy. These writers are heroes, having volunteered their time and writing to make Off Assignment come alive.

Think director's cuts, but scribbled inside your favorite books.
Think director's cuts, but scribbled inside your favorite books.

 

Great annotated books, still available
Great annotated books, still available

These annotated volumes, including books by both journalists and fiction writers like Susan Orlean, Lauren Groff, Sam Lipsyte, Edan Lepucki,  Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, and Anne Fadiman are in limited supply and high demand, so snatch up your faves straightaway!

Our Team

COLLEEN KINDER (Co-founder) is a travel writer loosely based in too many places. She has written for magazines such as VQR, The New Republic, National Geographic Traveler, and The Atlantic.com. Colleen currently teaches for Yale Summer Session in France and hustles, on the side, to launch this beloved magazine.

VINCE ERRICO (Co-founder) is the Chief Digital Officer at Trusted Media Brands and has more than 30 years experience in digital marketing and strategy. Vince graduated from UC Berkeley and Columbia Business School. A passionate traveler with a knack for digital startups, Vince joined forces with Colleen as soon as he heard about OA.

JULIA CALAGIOVANNI (Managing Editor) graduated from Yale with a BA in English as a Yale Journalism Scholar. She is a former editorial fellow at The Atlantic and also worked at The Sacramento Bee and The American Prospect.

NICOLE CLARK (Creative Strategist) graduated from Yale with a BA in English and co-founded the Yale Entrepreneurship Magazine. She is an associate editor at The Bold Italic and has been featured in Femsplain and Hoodline

SAM DISALVO (Assistant Editor & Social Media Director) is a writer, journalist and comedian. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Creative Writing degree, where she was the head of Insight Magazine. She has served as a news producer and media manager at KRNV and KRON.

OA is indebted to so many supporters and creatives who have dedicated time, talent, and heart to this project. Emphatic thanks goes out to our Founding Board members Ed Cohen, Anne Fadiman, Rick Passov, and Bob Wertheimer; to the inimitable Katy Osborne, who got "Letters" off the ground; to our powerhouse interns Sarah Holder, Sophie Haigney, and Josh Traenen; to Candace Rose Rardon, Meron Hadero, Chris Rubin, Alfred Megally, Jackson Barnett, Willa Brown, Willa Young, Andy Omel, Rob Giampetro, and Andrew Rowat for their counsel, hustle, and creative genius; and finally to Pico Iyer, whose candid story inspired this entire project. Off Assignment is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your generous contributions are partially tax-deductible. 

Final thanks goes to YOU, dear reader! Thank you for lending your attention to our pipe dream. With your support, we can really make this happen. And if you like what you see, multiply your enthusiasm by sharing this page on Facebook or Twitter! It takes an e-village.  

Risks and challenges

Off Assignment is a grassroots, nonprofit organization. We've been around for four years and our leaders are familiar with the challenge of running a satellite team and putting out beautiful content. Our main challenge in the months ahead is producing our debut print volume, and getting it into your hands! We have found a wonderful printing company, The Prolific Group, and just need to find illustrators and designers to nail the visual component. If you happen to be a fantabalous graphic designer or wicked illustrator, do drop us a note. In general, we're always recruiting passionate people to join our team, so be in touch!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    THE BIGGEST THANK YOU EVER

    The loveliest e-thank-you letter you ever did read, straight from the founders.

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    THE MAGAZINE: OUR DEBUT PRINT VOLUME​

    Our very first print collection​​--the best stories we've gathered thus far. Gorgeous photos, playful illustrations, and candid travel tales.

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    THE MAGAZINE & THE AUDIOBOOK

    - The debut print volume.
    - The "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook: 12 of our finest letters, plus an Iceland expose by Pico Iyer, a preface by the founders, and a "Triptionary" reading by Tony Perrottet.

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    THE MEGA-BACKER'S MAGAZINE

    -An emphatic THANKS to you on our website.
    -​Two signed and dedicated copies of the print volume--one to you, one mailed to a friend.
    - The"Letter to a Stranger" audio book.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS: AMY BLOOM

    - Amy Bloom will mark up "Away" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    JOURNALIST CONFESSIONS: TED CONOVER

    - Ted Conover will delve back into "Rolling Nowhere" to create for you the "off assignment" version, by adding candid, retrospective marginalia throughout.
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS : LAUREN GROFF

    - Lauren Groff will mark up "Arcadia" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    JOURNALIST CONFESSIONS: ANNE FADIMAN

    - Anne Fadiman will delve back into "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" to create for you the "off assignment" version, by adding candid, retrospective marginalia throughout.
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    JOURNALIST CONFESSIONS: LESLIE JAMISON

    - Leslie Jamison will delve back into "The Empathy Exams" to create for you the "off assignment" version, by adding candid, retrospective marginalia throughout.
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS : JULIA GLASS

    - Julia Glass will mark up "Three Junes" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS : EDAN LEPUCKI

    - Edan Lepucki will mark up "California" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS : SAM LIPSYTE

    - Sam Lipsyte will mark up "The Fun Parts" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    HOT-OFF-THE-PRESS BOOK BUNDLE

    -Signed copies of two new books by the vanguards of literary reportage, Ariel Levy and Gay Talese: The Rules Do Not Apply, and High Notes.
    -PLUS: our debut print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audio book

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS - PHILLIP LOPATE

    -Phillip will mark up his new book "A Mother's Tale" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    ESSAYISTS BOOK BUNDLE

    - John D'Agata will mark up "The Making of the American Essay" and Elena Passarello will mark up "Let Me Clear My Throat" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS - NATHANIEL RICH

    -Nathaniel will mark up his book "Odds Against Tomorrow" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS - MATTHEW THOMAS

    - Matt will mark up "We Are Not Ourselves" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    TRAVEL ESSAYISTS COLLECTION

    - Tom Bissell will mark up "Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia" and Blair Braverman will mark up "Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    PARTY WITH US

    - A ticket to our OA 2.0 party in San Francisco. Meet the Bay area writers and visionaries fueling this project and get a dose of Off Assignment live.
    -​ PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    WANDERLUST BUNDLE

    -You name the city/country and our nomad writers will author you a customized itinerary
    -Based on your answers to our quirky questionnaire, we will tap travel writers Don George and Lavinia Spalding to create a "Places to See Before You Die" list just for you.
    -​ PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audio book.

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    BOOKWORM BUNDLE

    -A reading list tailored to your reading taste made by Pico Iyer. He will write it in letter form and mail it to you!
    -PLUS: our debut print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audio book

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    NOVELISTS BOOK BUNDLE

    - Teddy Wayne will mark up "The Love Song of Jonny Valentine," Lev Grossman will mark up his book "The Magicians," and Josh Weil will mark up "The Great Glass Sea" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    BAD ASS WOMEN BOOK BUNDLE

    - Journalist Jen Percy will mark up "Demon Camp,"essayist Sarah Menkedick will annotate her (brand new!) book "Homing Instincts," and Kirstin Quade will mark up "Night at the Fiestas" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    TRAVEL WRITER'S LIBRARY

    - Our favorite travel writers will sign their book to you, and sprinkle commentary throughout: everything they *didn't* say in the official version:
    - Don George "The Way of Wanderlust," Julia Cooke “The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba,” Rolf Potts "Vagabonding," Lavinia Spalding “Writing Away,” Elisabeth Eaves “Wanderlust,” Marcia DeSanctis "100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go," and Alex Sheshunoff "A Beginner's Guide to Paradise"
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    AUTHOR'S CUTS: MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

    - Michael Cunningham will mark up "The Hours" with playful notes and asides: regrets, chuckles, confessions. Think director's cuts...the literary equivalent!
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    JOURNALIST CONFESSIONS- SUSAN ORLEAN

    - Susan Orlean will delve back into "My Kind of Place" to create for you the "off assignment" version, by adding candid, retrospective marginalia throughout.
    -PLUS, the print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audiobook.

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    GOLD SPONSORSHIP

    -Your generous contribution will fund one of our signature "Letter to a Stranger" essays. It will appear with "brought to you by..."
    -Your name will be memorialized in the beautifully designed centerfold spread of our keepsake print volume.
    -A ticket to our OA 2.0 party in San Francisco
    -A longhand thank-you letter from the founders, mailed from a foreign land!
    -PLUS: our debut print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audio book.

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    GAME-CHANGER

    Your donation will make a huge splash in the coming year; we will thank you, writ large!

    -Your name, cause or company will be memorialized on the back cover of our debut print volume, artfully designed by our team.
    - PLUS: our debut print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audio book + OA 2.0 party + thank-you letter from a foreign land.

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    MEET PICO IYER OR GAY TALESE

    Some people just know how to tell stories--on paper AND in person.

    -Support this endeavor at the highest level and you'll get a chance to meet the legendary Pico Iyer in San Francisco, or Gay Talese in New York, and hear them go further and further "off assignment!"
    -PLUS: our debut print volume + "Letter to a Stranger" audio book + OA 2.0 party + thank you letter from a foreign land.
    -Eternal love.

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Funding period

- (30 days)