Reviews | We haven’t reached the ‘Peak Newsletter.’ Not by a Long Shot.

It wasn’t that long ago that being relegated to a newsletter was considered journalistic demotion. But today, like places like the Atlantic and the New York Times have loosened their belts and the stars of Substack are earning more than $ 1 million one year, writing a newsletter has become a sort of prestige rhythm, closer to being a columnist than compiling online scores for the sports section. With each new entry in the newsletter field, and they keep arriving, it becomes more and more possible for readers to create personalized news feeds of their liking that are delivered to their inboxes.

The journalism industry has never been among the most creative of companies, but one thing they’ve always been willing to do is go where the audience is. When radio first started in the 1920s, newspapers launched radio stations then started TV stations. When the web arrived, the established media took the plunge. After briefly denigrating the blogs as self-indulgent copies written by nerds in pajamas, the media took to form. Universal subscription to newsletters is therefore less a major media reversal than a continuation of its habit of cooptation.

Although the Atlantic the authors of the newsletters are numerous, Sara Fischer from Axios reports that they will be kept on a leash To Atlantic editors, indicating that these new hires may not have the kind of editorial autonomy that sub-stackers enjoy. Will this turn out to be a smart idea, make newsletters sound more like regulars? Atlantic copy, or a big mistake because it will soften the ups and downs of some of the best newsletters? It is difficult to imagine that the AtlanticNewsletters will not become captive to the magazine’s voice, making the project more focused on expanding the magazine’s existing footprint than exploring new journalistic territories. But it is understandable why accomplished writers might choose to write from within the Atlantic‘s wide and secure port. Like Warzel, who defected from the New York Times under stack before landing at Atlantic, writing, his work found an audience at Substack but it didn’t really catch fire. Some writers benefit from being associated with a top media brand.

Email was once a place where you had conversations, but as conversations moved to text and DMs, it’s increasingly a place where you store receipts, set up appointments. you, collect announcements and now receive newsletters. Like my POLITICO colleague Marty Kady tell me, a newsletter is more like your daily newspaper – personally delivered to you for your direct consumption by your paper carrier – and less like a publication that you have to make a special trip to the newsstand to purchase. The stories you come across in a newsletter are there because you asked for them, not because a Page One editor at New York Times decided that this is the way you should start your day. The day you decide you’ve had enough of Taibbi, Punchbowl, or McWhorter, you can throw them away with the click of a mouse. Try to do this with the stories on the first page that you want to avoid.

So newsletters are good for cash-strapped writers and finicky readers, but don’t think for a minute that newsletters aren’t good for profit-hungry publishers, either. The newsletter form gives publishers what advertisers need: a targeted audience. When you subscribe to a newsletter, you are revealing that part of your identity that is defined by your interests and that is valuable. Advertisers prefer to reach the good 50,000 readers than 5,000,000 randos, and they particularly target audiences to whom they can repeatedly offer targeted content. Instead of letting all those precious eyeballs disappear into Substack’s editor’s room, editors have discovered that they can provide a lot of space for newsletter editors to roam – and potentially waste advertising money – on the go. inside their vast digital domains. It’s also an inexpensive way to expand a title’s visibility and give existing customers an additional reason to subscribe.

The newsletter form is not for all writers. If you’re a “name” writer with 100,000 followers on Twitter, you can get started on Substack if you can be interesting three times a week. Otherwise, you might be better off with a regular journalism job or a newsletter gig with an established brand that signals authority in your field. But if you’ve ever dreamed of being in the spotlight, this might be the best time to polish your star and pitch for a newsletter. At present, the bulletin scene is 1976 at CBGB in Lower Manhattan, where pretty much every band that plays there got a recording deal because the labels know something big is going on, but not enough to know which band is going to make a splash and which band is destined for. unsuccessful wonder. So what band are you, the Ramones or Tuff darts?


Department of Coincidences: It was the big media Atlantic Records (no relation to the Atlantic magazine) who published Live at CBGB in 1976. Send your band’s demo to [email protected]. Subscription to my email alerts it’s like subscribing to a newsletter. My Twitter feed wants a job on the sports section editing the agate. My RSS feed is the enemy of all podcasts.

About Karren Campbell

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