Digital Media Products, Strategy and Innovation

By Kevin Anderson, Consulting Services Director, Kaldor/Pugpig.

Newsletter Life: The pros and cons of Substack as a platform and as a career choice PLUS Axios' publisher talks about the CMS and culture that supports 'smart brevity' via @journalismnews





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Newsletter Life: The pros and cons of Substack as a platform and as a career choice PLUS Axios' publisher talks about the CMS and culture that supports 'smart brevity' via @journalismnews
Casey Newton who left The Verge to write about the major digital platforms via a Substack newsletter writes about his second year of editorial independence. He talks about the rush of getting new subscribers, which means almost $3000 in new income for him. That’s the success story.
But then the publisher of Axios makes the case for why journalists should join his growing network of local newsletters. You can paid vacation and health insurance. It all comes down to how much you value editorial independence, and let’s be honest, how much of a profile you have or can build.
PLUS the resignation of a senior executive at NPR show the challenges of managing the shifting boundaries in media companies. And reporting from the recently completed Online News Association conference about a discussion touching on whether AI and analytics can help journalists get closer to their audience (and communities).

What I learned in my second year on Substack | Nieman Journalism Lab
Casey Newton gives his second annual rundown about life on Substack. He left The Verge with 24,000 readers and now has three times that for his newsletter, and he’s bullish about the possibilities on the newsletter platform. As a product thinker and manager, I got interested further along when he talks about the experiments that worked and those that didn’t.
Axios's book-length explanation of 'smart brevity'
You have half a minute to win over your reader - use it smartly | Media news
I think that Axios’ strategy is about respecting people’s time, and this review by also highlights that the outlet’s strategy isn’t simply about word count but also about formatting intended to make their stories more easily digestible.
INMA: Axios publisher shares importance of culture, CMS, local
An interesting interview with Axios publisher Nicholas Johnston who talks about why they invested a lot of money in building their own CMS. They have specific needs, and they feel that investment was worth it because they can do a lot of things that are consistent with their brand and editorial efforts.
He also throws some shade on Substack, or at least the journalist-creator model. If you’re doing your own thing on Substack, you can earn a lot of money, but Substack won’t pay for your health insurance (if you’re in the US) or give you paid vacation.
The Best Substack Alternatives | WIRED
There is some serious shade throwing in Substack’s direction in the intro to these services, but it’s a useful article in that it shows other services, including Revue, which I use for this newsletter for folks looking for an alternative.
ONA22: Metrics and mission don’t have to stay separate – RJI
I missed ONA this year. Well, actually, I haven’t been since 2010, but I would have liked to have sat in on this session. There is always a healthy discussion about the use of analytics in journalism. A lot of journalists are concerned that a slavish attention to numbers will force them to generate clickbait - content that isn’t honest with its audiences. RJI highlights a conversation at ONA that shows that the conversation is much more nuanced. Numbers can help you connect more closely with your audience, and I would argue with your communities.
2022 Online Journalism Awards winners include The Boston Globe, LAist, The Trace and Mission Local - Online Journalism Awards
The run down of winners of the Online Journalism Awards.
NPR chief news executive Nancy Barnes to depart as network reshapes top ranks
A shake up in the editorial leadership at NPR. Nancy Barnes is stepping down as VP of news after a new executive content position was created that was senior to her. The piece hints at the tensions at NPR amongst various leaders that lead up different initiatives such as news and podcasts - one being a content genre and the other being a format. It shows the challenges of managing boundaries are major companies, media, or otherwise.
The US Senate moved forward with a bill that takes some of its inspiration from legislation in Australia that allowed news providers to collectively bargain with the major digital platforms for compensation for their content. There have been criticisms of the Aussie bill that it benefits big players to the detriment of small community publishers and independents.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Kevin Anderson, Consulting Services Director, Kaldor/Pugpig.

Digital transformation and product development with a media focus.

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