On Friday, June 1, the day after a party celebrating its latest issue, the staff of L.A.-based GOOD magazine was gutted. It seemed like just another Friday in the media industry, with its disappointing cycle of layoffs and buyouts claiming the jobs of a few more bright young talents. But the eight departed staff members of GOOD are looking forward to what Tomorrow brings — they’re using a Kickstarter campaign to produce a single issue of a new magazine, “Tomorrow,” together for the last time.
“We liked making things together and working together, and we all loved the jobs that we did, but we loved doing them together,” said Ann Friedman, the former executive editor of GOOD (she, along with five of GOOD’s nine staffers, was laid off; two others who have joined “Tomorrow” left on their own). ”The basic idea is really sort of encapsulated in the name — looking forward to tomorrow and not dwelling on the past.”
“Tomorrow” isn’t the first magazine to take that name — a magazine with the same name was a publication for mystics and parapsychologists from 1942 to 1962.
“I’m really excited to see ‘Tomorrow’ as a snapshot of what the future of journalism could look like, at a moment in time where its greatest institutions are in decay,” Amanda Hess, GOOD’s former lifestyle editor, said via Gchat. “My hope is that in the future, it will function as a time capsule of what young journalists are doing in 2012 … maybe like the ‘Tomorrow’ magazines that came before it.”(Disclosure: Hess and I worked together on our college newspaper, and several publications since.)
The staffers announced their plans to build “Tomorrow” on Tumblr shortly after the layoffs, and they set up an online Kickstarter fundraising campaign on Monday. It was less than a day before it surpassed their goal of $15,000. Friedman says that the $15,000 covers their bare-bones needs, but that any extra money raised will be split among the editors and contributors, ensuring that the journalists, designers, producers and photographers are somewhat compensated for their time.
They’re also rewarding their Kickstarter contributors with issues of the magazine, tote bags and other thank-you gifts, and the more you donate, the more eccentric the gift. Pledge $250, and Hess, who frequently writes about sex and relationships, will help write your online dating profile (“I am dying to manage someone’s online romantic presence ... anonymous backers welcome,” she says). Pledge $500 or more, and you get porn star James Deen, who was profiled in GOOD, to record your voicemail greeting.
Though the editors are still in the process of assigning stories, the magazine will carry the theme of starting over — it’s about a fresh set of eyes, a new type of narrative and what’s ahead. They’re seeking contributors, and expect to have the magazine out in October, followed by a killer launch party. Since it’s a project, not a full-time job, magazine staff members are looking for work simultaneously.
As for their former employer, Friedman and staff wish GOOD the best in its restructuring, which involves making the site more community-oriented, with less editorial content. “Tomorrow” aims to be good, but it does not aim to be GOOD.
“A magazine is the people who make it, so given that we were all the primary contributors behind GOOD for the past few years ... in a lot of ways it will feel similar,” said Friedman, “But we’re not tied to quite the same brand identity. I think we can be a little more daring.”