Meet Matter Studios
Mark Lotto

So Many Matters

I want to say a few more words about how we got here. But where do I even start?

Like I said, Matter’s always been a radical experiment, out beyond the received wisdom and conventions of digital journalism.

It was an experiment back in 2012, when Bobbie Johnson and Jim Giles launched a Kickstarter project devoted to “top-tier long-form journalism about big issues in technology and science.” This was during the ascendent moment of click bait, and yet they promised: “No cheap reviews, no snarky opinion pieces, no top ten lists. Just one unmissable story.”

It was an experiment in 2013, when they joined forces with a then-barely-out-of-beta Medium. Together, they set about trying to turn this platform into a place of high-quality content and substantive ideas and thoughtful conversation. (It worked!)

It was an experiment in 2014, when I had the chance to bring together a brilliant team of editors and designers to relaunch Matter as the platform’s flagship publication. I wanted to expand our coverage, reach, and frequency, and I wanted to push hard on the boundaries of what Medium could do, but I had more of a feeling than a plan. “Honestly, what we’re doing is hard to explain,” I wrote in my first editor’s note, “Mostly, Matter is going to try stuff.”

We tried a lot of stuff: We published acclaimed narrative non fiction on non-offending pedophiles, the Syrian civil war, sex work, and the sham of Mars One. We created extremely NSFW illustrations on sexting and puppet shows about ebola and crowd-sourced a sprawling investigation into the refugee crisis. Stories of raw, provocative feeling; filled with novel thinking and deep reporting; told through participatory formats and arresting visuals; covering topics of consequence. It was the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.

That had a lot to do with the other people who were a part of it over the years, each of whom made Matter more special and more unique: rigorous, inventive, trouble-making editors like Bobbie and Jim, Michael Benoist, Leah Beckmann, and Madison Kahn; a platform-pushing art team led by the visionary and wildly influential Erich Nagler, that included Devin Washburn, Noah Rabinowitz, and Marion Durand; unclassifiably talented and deeply fascinating staff writers like Alana Hope Levinson and Lauren Smiley, not to mention the extraordinary journalists, essayists, artists, and photographers who shared their extraordinary stories in extraordinary ways. This post isn’t thank you enough to all of them.

(For those wondering, the editorial team is sticking around at Medium to help amplify the most interesting voices and stories on the platform, and to help make other people as awesome at Medium as they are. But I’ll let them tell you all about the cool shit they’re gonna do.)

Anyway, the night Matter became the first-ever digital publication win a National Magazine Award for Reporting, I tweeted:

Bigger, crazier, weirder, nervier, more honest, more beautiful. That’s always been the idea. Always will be.

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