Journalism is not going away. Yes, the evolution of its delivery options has been accelerated as outdated methods clear the way for new digital alternatives. Journalism’s revenue stream is also going through an evolution.
Axios, the digital media outlet which invests in quality journalism, is a good example of the changes that have manifested in the industry. It coined the term, “Smart Brevity” in response to consumer demand for mobile, efficient information delivery. Axios’ co-founder, Roy Schwartz, has been quoted saying that a healthy media company has multiple ways of monetizing its brand and content.
Indeed. Its e-newsletter model allows for brief articles and industry-specific newsletters which are sponsored and subscribed for. It allows for videos, events and other monetizing opportunities. Newsletters are just one example of a trend that is changing the landscape for journalism and information distribution.
The big beneficiary in this digital media revolution may be journalists themselves. Substack, which was founded in 2017 as a way for writers to send and monetize digital newsletters, has created a new way for journalists to make a living. Many of its prominent users are journalists creating their own subscription newsletters and an independent source of income. Substack has been so successful that the company recently announced a $65 million investment in its subscription newsletter platform.
Some familiar social media players are jumping onto the scene as well. Facebook recently announced a new platform to empower journalists to self-publicize their own work and make money while doing it, starting with subscriptions. Twitter launched a new platform Super Follows, allowing individual users and publishers to earn money from subscriptions. Twitter’s recent acquisition of Revue, a newsletter and monetization company, will further help publishers earn revenue from their newsletters, stories and following.
The subscription newsletter model means journalists with specific expertise or “beats” can reach a more targeted interested audience, whether it be for car reviews, politics, or the microbrewery scene, and get paid for it.
Like most disruptive industry changes, it has been a painful time for media and journalists as they learn to adapt and monetize. But ultimately the behavior has not changed, people still want information. The technology facilitating the behavior, however, has changed. In response, readers want mobile, brief news that is relevant to their interests. What we are seeing will provide that, as well as path for journalists to thrive in what has been traditionally a financially challenging profession.