autobiography of the Lower Midwest

THE NEW TERRITORY

It started with love. In 2016, throughout the Lower Midwest, editors, writers, artists and deep thinkers—all of particularly optimistic stripes—started collecting their work in The New Territory.

The book’s collaboration has grown and spread slowly and carefully over the seasons, finding its right place in the hills, plains, and bookshelves of Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas. When it feels right, we color outside those border lines.

Some things have never changed.

We know there’s something alive in this landscape that we share.

We explore it with tenderness. We ask it question after question to try and understand its many faces. We want and expect the best for its future.

We try to capture the region’s essence even though we know it can’t be contained. Not by words, not by pictures. Not even by stories, into which we put so much faith. Nevertheless, we keep collecting. We keep printing.

And twice a year, when a new issue comes out, we feel incredibly honored to add to the body of regional literary journalism, fiction, poetry, art, humor and imagination. Readers tell us they think differently about places they’ve lived their whole lives. You can subscribe here and see if that holds up.

We’ve posted our founding principles below. They guided us well in the past five years. Whether you’re learning about The New Territory for the first time or have been with us from the beginning, please know we are so glad you’ve found us. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring.

FOUNDING PRINCIPLES

01. THE LOWER MIDWEST IS F—ING AWESOME

Our place-based work is forward-thinking and realistically optimistic. The states of and around Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska have plenty of problems to solve, stories to tell, and possibilities for making our part of the world even better.

02. READERS COME FIRST.

We earn readers through work that honors their intelligence, curiosity and variety of interests and backgrounds. We’re mindful of readers’ desire to unplug, so we design clean pages without advertising or noisy clutter. Reading in print is an intimate experience. We’re proud to bring The New Territory to readers’ backpacks, living rooms and beyond.

03. WE ARE RADICALLY SLOW. 

Hey, we have to fit at least one Midwestern stereotype. The New Territory’s journalism prioritizes accuracy, depth, understanding and inspiration — work that takes time to develop (read more about the Slow Journalism Revolution). That’s also why we curate great regional literature and art for every issue.

04. LOCAL CONTRIBUTORS ARE OUR STRONGEST ASSET. 

Our contributors’ insight and ideas are fresh and meaningful. Because they understand their place intimately, are trusted and have access to sources that outsiders simply don’t have, their perspectives are insightful and authentic. They are also devastatingly talented. As such, they deserve to get paid respectfully.

05. BUSINESS SUPPORTS A CREATIVE ECONOMY. 

We believe good work is worth paying for, and we use our subscriber-supported business model to educate people on the value of creative work. We are proud to work with sponsors who believe in the power of journalism, literature and art to improve society.

06. “LOWER MIDWEST” IDENTITY BREEDS COMPASSION AND CONSERVATION.

Humans are wired to protect their self-interest. When we encounter narratives, our sense of “self” expands out to the environments and societies to which people are linked. Stories in The New Territory foster a culture of caring.

07. OUR MISSION NEEDS BOTH STABILITY AND CHANGE.

Part of our mission relies on consistent regional coverage, and the predictable format and frequency of a magazine fosters trust and confidence for both contributors and subscribers. But to engage with audiences outside of cities and college towns, The New Territory must invent new ways to make connections. We’ll make mistakes, but it will be in a good direction.

08. LIKE THE MIDWEST ITSELF, WE’RE A PLATFORM FOR DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES.

We feel that representing diverse points of view is simply a part of what we do and the world we live in—never just an extra sidebar or box to check. We know we will make mistakes in this or let voices fall through the cracks, and we want to get better. Always feel welcome to drop us a line for suggestions on how to represent the region more fully.

We rely on funds from readers to pay writers and move our mission forward.

OUR TEAM

Our volunteer team members pour their hearts into finding Midwestern voices, editing each piece, and sharing the stories with you in print and online. Click here to meet the team.