Welcome to issue 52, marking a full year since we launched this newsletter – a curation of the most important news, stories and ideas in digital publishing.It’s been a fascinating year, with many publishers moving away from failing revenue streams and towards emerging business models: subscriptions, memberships and paywalls. It’s been widespread, from the world’s largest news organisations to independent publishing businesses and creators.
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💯 Top picks
“I am one of the most-followed authors on Medium, with 158,000 followers. And yet Medium barely shows my articles to anyone anymore.”Quincy Larson shares the news that freeCodeCamp moved more than 5,000 of their articles away from Medium, in order to take control of their publication and give their writers and contributors a bigger audience - with no more popups or sign-in prompts.
💸 Business models
Now that membership models are becoming the norm, publishers are hunting for staff who can sit somewhere between product, marketing and editorial, to support the growth of their membership products.Publishers like Quartz and The Atlantic already have people in this role, while others such HuffPost and BuzzFeed News just started hiring.
“Fortune magazine is raising its cover price, launching a digital paywall and boosting its conference business, in its first decisive steps as an independent publisher.”
After restructuring and cutting staff globally earlier this year, BuzzFeed UK has a plan for sustainable growth by creating local video content and commerce advertising partnerships.
✍️ Modern journalism
"More than a dozen EU countries haven’t issued a single GDPR fine yet, and the those that have have generally been small. (Unless your name is Google.)”
“Is it enough to be skeptical? Or is there an ethical case to be made that media companies, and the journalists who work for them, should sever their ties to Facebook completely?”
The venture-backed media company targeted at millennials is set to raise further funding to fuel international expansion and events.
Twitter users started noticing a sudden influx of ads in their feeds, and it turned out that the platform has been running some tests on how many promoted tweets they show. Naturally, people weren’t too happy, and there have been several complaints about clickbait and malicious campaigns.
Instagram only lets users put one link on their profiles which makes it hard to send traffic back to your website. But the rise of “link-in-bio” products are helping people to improve referral traffic from the platform by up to 15%.
Everyone is talking about a new machine learning tool being used by The Times to improve audience engagement. Their technology is called JAMES, which stands for “Journey Automated Messaging for Higher Engagement”. In normal language, it means content will be delivered to the right people at the right time. So far the results are pretty impressive, with a reported 49% reduction in subscriber churn!
Most peer-to-peer file sharing platforms and torrenting websites have been shut down over the years. Meanwhile, the Pirate Bay continues to host torrents that have survived for over a decade, thanks to an anonymous group of piracy advocates who ensure the site never goes down.