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Scalawag will help build a freer and more just South through storytelling and conversation—in print, online, and in person.
Scalawag celebrates and examines the American South in print, online, and in person.
Scalawag celebrates and examines the American South in print, online, and in person.
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374 backers pledged $31,548 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Scalawag: The new magazine for Southern politics and culture

$31,548

374

Reach goal

Thanks to all our wonderful backers, we've broken our goal in less than 10 days! You're incredible.

Let's keep that going: Our reach goal is $30,000. We'll use that money to pay our writers even better and fund our operations into 2016. Every dollar you pledge will be spent publishing the best Southern journalism. And every subscription is another voice in the conversation.

So join us. Help us pay our writers well, build a vibrant readership, and fund Scalawag deep into 2016.

What we’re about

Scalawag is a new magazine and website focused on the American South. We're dedicated to real stories, good ideas, and the hard work of building a freer and more just future for our region. 

Four times a year, we’ll publish a beautiful print magazine filled with top-notch writing: long-form journalism, incisive commentary, and personal stories. In between issues, we’ll publish more great content online and host events to continue these conversations in person. We’ll examine and celebrate Southern ways of living together—personal and political. And unlike many publications, we won’t shy away from hard truths and controversy. 

We’re printing our first issue at the end of this month, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. We had reporters on the front lines of protests in Atlanta, overturning archives to uncover the legacy of Jim Crow in North Carolina, and tracking down an elusive folk artist in New Orleans. Our contributors have collectively written a dozen books, and have been published everywhere from academic journals to The New York Times and The Atlantic

Your Kickstarter pledge will get Scalawag going, and help us run the magazine for this full year: four issues, online content, and soon events in communities around the South. We won’t stop there. Right now, we need your backing to get going.

Where we’re coming from

The fact is, there’s a shortage of good journalism in the South. Local newspapers are drying up, and Northern media can’t fill the gap. We're also short on thoughtful commentary, and on forthright civic conversation. These shortages couldn’t come at a worse time. There’s been a lot of hard news down South lately: too many children going hungry, too many folks out of a job, too many sick and too many in need. But there’s also hope and excitement. People across the across the region are doing incredible work to shape the futures of their communities.  

Amidst all of this, we need a way to know what’s going on, and a community in which to discuss it. That’s why we’re building Scalawag.

Scalawag will publish the South’s most necessary journalism, its very best ideas, and its most important stories. We’ll talk about the South without resorting to stereotypes. We’ll export good writing and sometimes import foreign perspectives. We’ll look for new ways of understanding the South in the fullness of its diversity and complexity. And we'll search for a full sense of what it is to be Southern in the twenty-first century. 

A draft of a spread from our first issue
A draft of a spread from our first issue

We're laying out our first issue now, and already have pieces lined up for our second (and for the website). Our contributors are already working on all kinds of important stories – about lives of homeless men in a fast-growing city, good ideas on immigration in Mississippi, and queer communities across the rural South. We' want to approach the familiar and the new with an open heart as we listen and share the stories that are shaping the South.

Who we are

Our team
Our team

We’re a team of young Southerners – from Virginia down to the Mississippi Delta – with a carpetbagger thrown in for good measure. Among us we’ve got important experience: teaching writing and journalism, leading state-wide field operations for the Obama campaign, consulting for the United Nations and top CEOs—even winning a Rhodes Scholarship.

We know we have a lot left to learn. That’s why we’re so glad to have a community of advisors at our back. At the center of this community is our Board of Advisors, full of experienced writers and journalists, like Alec MacGillis, Taylor Branch, Anne Fadiman, and Bill Chafe. They’ve won a stunning number of awards—including two Pulitzer prizes.

Of course lots of folks can recite nice resumes. So what’s more important is that our team shares a commitment to the future of the South, and to the conversations and communities that will shape that future. We care about the folks who share our homes here. And we’re genuinely curious about the questions Scalawag will ask and answer. 

Why we’re Kickstarting

The money you pledge on Kickstarter will jump start Scalawag’s first year. It’ll take Scalawag from a project in our kitchens to something real—it’ll let us pay our writers fairly, print our magazine, build out our website, and cover the costs of serious journalism. More than all that, your pledge will also be an investment in the magazine’s future. Scalawag may be a non-profit, but we don’t intend to rely on outside help forever. So we’ve built a real business model, and we intend to become sustainable within three years. Like y’all, Scalawag will be in this for the long haul.

What you’ll get

We’re most excited to (finally) be offering subscriptions to Scalawag’s first and second years. But pick your fancy: You can also get our signature cocktail recipe, a mason jar for drinking it, a limited-edition print of our first cover, or even a lifetime subscription.

Something else you want to know? 

Email us at editors@scalawagmag.org! We'd be happy to hear from you.

Risks and challenges

We don’t want to pretend this will all be easy. Here’re three of the biggest challenges we face, and what we’re doing about them.

• We’re piloting an unconventional model in an uncertain time. The market for media is undergoing a generational shift. So we’ve focused on developing a real path to sustainability: keeping our operating costs low, and building a base of committed subscribers. Moreover, our 501c(3) status means we’ll never have to compromise our mission to stay in print.

• We need to build awareness to succeed. Scalawag has to reach readers, and these days people’s attention can be hard to come by. So we’ve been pushing to spread our message, testing the idea with hundreds of influential Southerners, and developing a comprehensive marketing plan.

• We need to attract top-notch contributors. Real journalism takes real talent. That’s why we're working nonstop to source pieces from some of the best journalists in the country. Our success to date gives us confidence we can succeed.

Above all, we’re committed to this project for the long haul. We know the path forward isn't simple. But we'll continue to ask the questions the South most needs discussed. We can get only get started with your backing.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $9 or more About $9

    A video recipe for our signature Scalawag cocktail.

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    Pledge $24 or more About $24

    A copy of the first issue of Scalawag (and the cocktail recipe).

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    92 backers
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    Pledge $39 or more About $39

    Early bird gift: A subscription to the first year of Scalawag, your name printed in our second issue and a custom Scalawag jar for your drinks, and the cocktail recipe.

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    Reward no longer available 20 backers
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    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    A subscription to the first year of Scalawag, your name printed in our second issue and a custom Scalawag jar for your drinks, and the cocktail recipe.

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    133 backers
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    Pledge $79 or more About $79

    A two year subscription to Scalawag plus all the above.

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    Pledge $124 or more About $124

    Early bird gift: An elegant printed poster of our first cover plus all the above.

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    Reward no longer available 15 backers
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    Pledge $149 or more About $149

    An elegant printed poster of our first cover plus all the above.

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    13 backers
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    Pledge $249 or more About $249

    Three copies of the first issue of Scalawag to give to friends and two tickets to any future Scalawag event plus all the above.

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    5 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $499 or more About $499

    A lifetime subscription to Scalawag. And you'll forever be in our hearts a "Founding Scalawag." (Plus all the above.)

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    8 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $999 or more About $999

    Chose one of three:
    1) Come to a Durham Bulls game with us.
    2) Join us for a guided backpacking trip in the North Carolina mountains.
    3) Get the Scalawag Southern Culture Pack--our pick of the best literature, music, cookbooks, and more from the region, shipped to your door.

    (Plus all the above.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)