The sub-stack has just reached a major milestone. Can the mainstream media react?

Substack announced Monday that there are over a million paid subscription subscriptions on its platform – or, as the company says, “a million reasons to believe this opportunity is bigger than anyone else. would not have imagined “. According to NiemanLab, Substack now has twice as many subscriptions than it claimed 10 months ago and four times that of December 2020. “These are subscriptions that did not exist before, they are not diverted from traditional media. or redistributed from other platforms, ”Substack wrote in an article. “They represent a rush of new money into the media ecosystem, with the vast majority going directly to writers.”

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The newsletter platform, which has top writers like Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Matt yglesias, touted the accomplishment as the assertion that “people are willing to pay for writers they trust ”and“ new types of publications serving previously overlooked communities can succeed. ”The 10 Best Newsletters Collectively Raise Over $ 20 Million Per Year, Co-Founder Hamish McKenzie Noted. Nieman points out that a million subscriptions does not mean a million subscribers. “Paid subscribers represent a fraction – around 5-10% – of Substack’s total readership,” the outlet reports, with more than 500,000 people “out of millions of active readers” paying for at least one Substack.

Almost a year ago my colleague Joe pompeo wrote that “for all the visionary and harsh talk of Substack, it is difficult to imagine a mass exodus – at least voluntary – from the big media organizations“, given that “a regular salary is always a regular salary, and it always counts as something to tell a source you call from a post like the New York Times, the Atlantic, or Politics. While reporters at major media companies certainly haven’t rushed outings, there has been a lot of churn in the industry since then. Charlie warzel, for one, jumped from the Time under stack at Atlantic, which is one of the mainstream media that has launched paid newsletter programs in response to the Substack boom. In a recent article announcing that he would be leaving Substack, Warzel said he had amassed over 1,400 paying subscribers in seven months on the platform and acknowledged that the move was less lucrative than he had hoped. . Carrying its newsletter to Atlantic, he noted that he will once again be able to “collaborate within an organization while having my own little notepad where I can do my thing.”

Such an option, that of Axios Sara fischer and Nicolas johnston writing, was very rare on mainstream platforms before the somewhat recent exodus to Substack, a trend that “was exaggerated by the threat to newsrooms” but which “ultimately drove newsrooms to create programs that give writers more power. remuneration, autonomy and flexibility ”. In the face of the changing digital media landscape, traditional publishers seem resilient: Time earlier this year launched a handful of subscriber-only newsletters, some of which are written by non-Time employees; the Forbes paid newsletter platform launched in January allows writers to share subscription revenue for their newsletters 50/50 with the publisher; the Atlanticthe newsletter program of, who counts Molly jong-fast and Nicole chung among its nine writers, will offer entrepreneurs “the opportunity to earn extra money if they meet certain subscription goals,” according to Vox; and information just revealed a network of newsletters.

As traditional publishers adapt to the newsletter trend, new players are seemingly taking note of the emerging hybrid options that have brought reporters like Warzel back into the newsroom. “The newsletter boom will spawn new platforms for creators looking for a balance between newsroom support and independence,” write Fischer and Johnston, citing nascent companies Lede and Workweek as recent examples.

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