Substack: From bad to worse

Jemma Kaley writes:

The Silicon Valley-based firm’s new feature is called “Sections”, and it allows writers to set up and manage multiple newsletters or podcasts within one main publication. So while you would subscribe to the publication as a whole, you can select which sections of it you want to be sent to your inbox.

One of the criticisms often levelled at Substack is that star journalists, who have built up followings at mainstream news outlets, are now leveraging the reputations old media helped them build. Absent the resources and support of a newsroom these star names, however, can’t do the quality of reporting they once could. This is bad for journalism, some argue, and it’s a fair point.

The “traditional media outlet” is now fearing the rise of the digital upstart and rightly so. More than the revenue loss, it is the loss of “perception” and “loss of opinion-makers”. Any academic publishing craves for the “reputation” and as an influencer. The same holds true for the old media houses.

Coming back to Substack. It has morphed from a newsletter business to a “new-age” media house. I have strong rallied against the idea – in the current scenario, they are keeping the platform share fees “low”, especially for the paid subscribers. One doesn’t realise that incremental costs of delivery of digital medium are next to zero. The costs are involved in “maintaining” it – which requires engineers and support staff. Howsoever, they might want to polish it, a newsletter views for attention like any other email that divides your attention span. I prefer to consume the “newsletters” through a dedicated RSS feed – I don’t feel guilty if I gloss over it. Paid subscriptions are a pain. I wont be surprised if Substack wants to raise it’s share in the future, because that’s how they monetise their platform. Having a VC back up and investments leverages the same old school media houses that they wish to co-exist.

I remain a strong votary of blog with open RSS feed. As I have mentioned several times before – this is a place where I put out my thoughts; track news and try to understand the impact of health technologies.

I don’t have any patreon/funding page. Feel free to share/delete/move on or follow the link source. Substack represents a locked platform, and pretty soon, everyone will regret it.