Cuts at 'passion platforms' Patreon and Substack cast shadow over creator economy
While Axios Pro rakes in millions, Reuters on hiring spree and nonprofit newsroom earning with digital ads
As I write this, I think of the large (but not necessarily deep) cuts happening at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and Google parent company Alphabet this week, 10,000, 18,000 and 12,000 employers respectively. It is an indication of how much the economy has shifted after the pandemic. But we’re also seeing it at tech firms that touch the media economy with Patreon and Substack making cuts as well, as our first item discusses.
But the economic picture for media is complicated. Reuters is going to create 100 and relaunch its paywall. Axios Pro and its pricey professional newsletters are off to a strong strait. And non-profit news organisations are earning more with digital advertising. Meanwhile, Vice is trying to sell itself again, but this time the price is dramatically less, although it is still hoping for a nine-figure deal.
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This is a good overview of the layoffs at big tech. As Laura Hazard Owen points out, it must have been a bit chilling for Jeff Bezos to show up in the Washington Post newsroom just after massive layoffs at Amazon. I was having a conversation just yesterday with an astute industry watcher who was wondering whether Bezos has lost interest in owning a newspaper.
For those journalists who launched their own newsletters or podcasts, Laura also points out - right in the headline - that times might be getting more challenging across these creator or “passion “ platforms. For a lot of journalists who have fled traditional jobs to become solopreneurs, this year will be a time that will test their business hypothesis.
Reuters’ near-term future just got a little clearer. It already had a 30-year-deal with Refinitiv, of which it was spun out of, for content distribution. The London Stock Exchange Group bought Refinitiv, and now LSEG has expanded their deal with Reuters. It’s good news for job seekers. If they are London-based, the next challenge will be to find someplace to live.
The devil is in the details on this one, but Axios’ pricey Pro newsletter product is off to a strong start. In its first year, it has generated $2m. As Digiday points out, we don’t know how many of these subs have renewed after the first year,
All you need to know is that it was shopping itself around for $5.7 bn in 2017. I wonder how the valuation of Buzzfeed is doing?
The Media Briefing highlights how some publishers are pushing their events back to later in the year in the hopes that the economy will improve. This is the second story that I’ve seen about this so I expect the events industry to be a little quieter in the first half of this year.
A good piece in Adweek looking at how nonprofit newsrooms are starting to win more digital advertising. It’s important to have diversified revenue sources. The important thing will be to track these figures as the economy moves through this cycle.
A mini-social media roundup
Twitter’s chaos seems almost designed to run it into the ground, and now we hear - not unsurprisingly - that it’s driving even less traffic to news sites. And the BBC pivots to TikTok after keeping its distance. That’s intriguing.
Why and when journalism leaders decide to go
The Reynolds Journalism Institute has an interesting piece filled with interviews with journalism leaders about why thy decided to step down when they did. You’ve got the founder of the Texas Tribune and VTDigger (a great indie news site in Vermont) as well as the former leader at ProPublica. It’s interesting and also highlights the importance of succession planning.
And we have an interesting piece of industry news with the US head of digital journalism for the BBC deciding to jump ship less than four months after he started. Did he just get an offer he couldn’t refuse or is there something else going on at the Beeb?
Trust in Journalism low, and how to improve that
Edelman’s annual trust barometer shows that journalists are amongst the least trusted people. With the constant verbal attacks that high profile leaders around the world have levelled at the profession, it’s easy to see why. And I applaud people like Nic Newman at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in calling on journalists to wrestle with how to improve trust.
I think that the Washington Post, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune offered up one way to build trust by hosting an AMA on Reddit about an investigation that they just finished into the school shooting at Uvalde in Texas last May in the US. It’s a great and human way to explain the choices that journalists make. Bravo.