Meet Byliner.com, The Pandora Of Long Form Journalism

Sarah Palin

On Tuesday, Byliner.com opened the full force of its archives, allowing readers to peruse through more than 32,000 longform stories. The effort is the latest attempt to highlight and organise the world of ambitious reporting, excellent essays, and other impressive works of journalism.

The “discovery engine” is “designed to help readers discover and discuss great stories, and become fans of great writers,” Byliner CEO John Tayman told Poynter.org.

(Brilliantly, the Byliner folks listed 15 stories about launching a business in honour of their debut.)

The site focuses on writers, with complex pages designed to highlight all the work of the journalist in question.

The archive is impressive, but the real potential game-changer is the Byliner originals.

The site also launched two new ones, “I Hope Like Heck,” 50 poems from Sarah Palin‘s emails, and “Planet Killers,” a Tad Friend work about planetary defence, on Tuesday. The stories follow on the heels of John Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit,” William T. Vollman’s “Into the Forbidden Zone,” and a few other offerings.

Byliner pays an assignment fee for the stories and splits revenue derived from sales 50/50 with the author.

“These stories needed more room than a magazine, but they didn’t require the time commitment of a book,” Tayman told Poynter of the 10,000- to 35,000-word pieces.

The goal is to create long works with a quick turnaround time. Vollman was in Japan almost immediately after the earthquakes and the Palin emails just came out last week.

Byliner gives writers the opportunity to pursue these ambitious efforts. Whether the financial model works remains to be seen, but it’s great to see that someone is trying.

 

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