Back in September, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of this newsletter’s launch, The Food Section committed to publishing one freelance contribution each month to better reflect the diversity and depth of food cultures across the American South.
Thanks to the generous financial support of paying subscribers, The Food Section has since shared stories about how the daughter of Nigerian immigrants connected with her Black American identity through Popeyes chicken, why a tradition cherished by Vietnamese communities in north Florida was wiped out by climate change, and how intergenerational trauma has a hold on food choices in south Louisiana. Just last month, Robin Caldwell wrote powerfully about a pastry chef’s grief cakes.
I’m very proud that The Food Section has grown to include more voice and perspectives. But as I wrote when I announced the freelance initiative, The Food Section was envisioned as a full-fledged media organization, invigorating rigorous and independent food journalism across the region. The big idea behind The Food Section was to support hard-hitting reporting and engaging storytelling about food and drink at the local level.
Today, The Food Section takes a giant step toward that goal by partnering with The Assembly, a digital magazine that in two years of reporting on power and place in North Carolina has driven policy discussions and shaped community conversations. I’d bet many of you are among its readers. (And if you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here.)
Together, The Food Section and The Assembly will deliver top-caliber food journalism to people across North Carolina, making good on both publications’ promise to surprise, inform, and deepen readers’ understanding of the place they call home.
Cool, you’re thinking. But how will this work?
As The Assembly prepares to open a set of bureaus, The Food Section will be an integral part of that expansion effort. We’re bringing on two full-time food reporters in Durham and Wilmington to cover those cities’ food scenes in the manner to which The Food Section’s readers have become accustomed. That means eaters in both places will soon have a new authoritative source of local food journalism, mirroring the mix of in-depth features, restaurant reviews, and investigative reports that are a fixture of this newsletter.
Starting this month, The Assembly will publish a monthly food newsletter showcasing those journalists’ work, along with other original reporting about food and drink throughout the state, all curated or created by The Food Section. In other words, no need to feel left out if you’re a North Carolinian who doesn’t live in either of the cities named above.
For argument’s sake, though, let’s say you don’t live in North Carolina. Why should folks who are based in Arkansas, Georgia, or Oregon care about all this?
One, if the joint arrangement works out as planned, The Food Section can replicate it in other states by partnering with similarly aggressive and ambitious news organizations. Lots of otherwise impressive media startups aren’t sure how to cover food, meaning it makes sense to outsource that task to a publication that’s a proven leader in the field. So, The Food Section could be coming to a town near you. (Unless you live in Oregon. Sorry.)
Two—and this is important!—The Food Section’s publication schedule and subscription rates are changing. From its inception, The Food Section has published three newsletters a week: A longform piece on Mondays, a fun column on Wednesdays, and a sales pitch or event announcement on Fridays. Paid subscribers receive the newsletter on Mondays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays; the Friday edition is all that non-paying readers ever see.
Beginning in April, to accommodate my new editing duties, The Food Section will publish on Mondays and Fridays exclusively. As before, the Monday email will be reserved for paying subscribers, but the popular travel guides and Q-and-A’s which have appeared on Wednesdays may make Monday cameos.
Regarding pricing, The Food Section’s fees aren’t calculated on a patronage basis: I don’t expect readers to pay because they like me or believe in The Food Section’s mission (although I never turn away money given for either reason.) At The Food Section, subscription fees directly fund the costs of producing journalism.
To put it another way, you shouldn’t pay the same price for fewer newsletters. The new subscription price is $5 a month, or $49 a year.
For monthly subscribers, that rate will take effect on April 1. For existing annual subscribers, the rate will be in force when you renew; in the meantime, I’m extending all annual subscribers’ subscriptions by six months.
Finally, while we’re chatting cash, if you’re new to The Food Section and interested in its previous coverage of North Carolina, all the newsletter’s North Carolina-themed stories are compiled in an e-book, available for $2.99.
And don’t worry: There’s plenty more to come.
Thank you for supporting The Food Section in its journey and buying into its vision of better food journalism across the South. Your participation has made this next chapter possible. I would of course love to express my gratitude in person.
If you haven’t yet registered for The Food Section’s subscribers’ reception tomorrow, I hope you’ll RSVP today. Kyle Villemain, founder and editor-in-chief of The Assembly, will be here to answer any questions you might have about his publication and celebrate the partnership.
So proud of this newsletter and the continued growth. As a relatively new resident of NC, the ebook was a must-purchase.
Well now, isn’t this exciting! Very cool next step and a high one at that. Congrats for the new partnership and your progress in executing your new model for food journalism.