Miles away from Lonely Planet, NatGeo and Fodor's, you'll find Compass Cultura, a new digital approach to travel journalism. The ad-free, subscription-based project aims to elevate the genre by celebrating creative, thought-provoking writing above all else. "The industry is watered-down and noisy. It's too hard to find great story reporting," explains co-founder and Creative Director Jeff Campagna on the inspiration behind the project. "We hold storytelling and readability above all else." And this is what sets Compass Cultura apart. There are no sponsored stories, click-bait headlines or fad-heavy round-ups here—just authentic articles written because their stories begged to be told.
Compass Cultura publishes monthly with three carefully selected articles landing between 3,000 and 6,000 words (projected read time is presented atop each one as a service to time-restricted readers). At launch, stories will be culled from a range writers and indie publications with which Campagna has established relationships with during his own career as a freelance journalist. Revenue generated from the modest subscription price ($2 per month, $20 per year) will eventually allow more freelancers to come on board, which will increase the number of stories published per month, as well as affect the breadth of content.
Once a nest egg is established, Campagna looks forward to fielding pitches. "We don't plan on dictating locations or insisting on any distinct editorial voice. We'll just sift through the story pitches that come in from freelancers all over the world—freelancers like me—and pick what fits best with our vision of dynamic, thought-provoking long-form journalism." For the debut issue, one such story explores the Salton Sea, California's tropical destination turned toxic wasteland. In the exposé, author Erik Gauger digs into the past and present of the sad scene, while exploring the surrounding area—including Leonard Knight's infamous Salvation Mountain at Slab City—as well. It reads faster than one would think from the size of it—perhaps a sign of compelling writing.
As it stands, the "sub-compact publication" manages to exist entirely ad-free and sans investors, bootstrapped by Campagna and his wife. The lack of advertizing combined with Campagna's design skills makes for one well-designed, easy-to-consume publication. Thanks to this, Compass Cultura is easily accessed online and on mobile platforms as well. Visit the forward-thinking publication online today to celebrate its official launch and get involved from day one.
Images courtesy of Compass Cultura