Issue #59 — Substack gets $15.3 million in VC funding

This weeks curation of the most important news in publishing includes funding announcements from Substack, more evidence that micro-payments aren’t working out, and some thoughtful articles about trust and diversity. Enjoy!

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💯 Top picks

Email newsletter platform Substack nabs $15.3 million in funding (and vows it won’t go the way of other VC-funded media companies)

“The email newsletter platform Substack, which has become home to an increasing number of personal and professional newsletters as creators phase out their use of TinyLetter, announced Tuesday that it’s raised $15.3 million in Series A funding.”

💸 Business models

New European drops micro-paywall charging readers small amounts for premium articles

More proof that micro-payments for journalism didn’t work out as planned, as The European, who previously used the Axate paywall to ask readers to put £3 into a wallet, charging up to 50p per week for access to their articles, has taken it down. They’ve decided that their readers would prefer to support them in a more direct way, similar to The Guardian!

The BBC could trade in their licence system for a subscription service

“The BBC could switch away from the licence fee to a Netflix-style voluntary subscription model, the director-general acknowledged yesterday. The compulsory licence fee system is guaranteed until 2027, after which the broadcaster will have to negotiate a new funding arrangement with the government.”

✍️ Modern journalism

Whose stories get told? Why media diversity matters

“There are still too many media gatekeepers who clearly don’t get it.”David Morgan discusses the struggle for better representation in the media, and how the trend toward greater diversity will not continue on its own.

The Guardian's Chief Revenue Officer Hamish Nicklin on sustainable journalism and fair advertising [Podcast]

Hamish Nicklin appears on the Media Voices podcast to discuss the newspaper’s journey to profit, including how they leverage membership, contributions and advertising.

Governments making “fake news” a crime risk stifling real journalism — accidentally or intentionally

It’s common knowledge that the spread of fake news is an issue in modern media. But what happens if a country makes it a crime to deliberately spread false information? Alana Schetzer argues that this isn’t necessarily the best route, after Singapore became the latest country to pass such laws!

👩‍💻 Technology

Social media giants are restricting research vital to journalism

Twitter and Facebook imposing tighter restrictions on their data is making it difficult for ethical researchers to gather important data that acts as sources for journalists. CJR explain how the “simple python applications” they built to collect messages posted by election candidates in 2014 quickly became ineffective – and now they’re finding it hard to gather reliable data.

Google is redesigning the news tab, prioritising context and publisher names

News articles that appear in the search engine under the News tab will now display publishers’ names more prominently, with article cards in a carousel.

Podcasters need listening data, so Nielsen is going to call people’s homes to ask for it

“Nielsen, a company best known for tracking TV shows’ popularity, is getting into the podcast data collection business.”

The new tech principles for FT.com

The Financial Times product and technology department shared their new tech principles, including a few favourites like: “make small changes often” and “treat unblocking others as your priority”.

Netflix insists it won’t move into selling advertising

“Netflix wants you to know: It doesn’t have any plans now or in the future to start running commercials on its streaming service.”

🤷 WTF?

We’re at peak newsletter, and I feel fine

An article celebrating the personal-newsletter, which also happens to be full of great recommendations of personal-newsletters you might want to read.