In my years as a journalist, I have seen more disruption in the business model of the news media than my friends in finance, teaching or the arts. Clearly, the traditional business model of news has long been under severe strain, if it is not already completely broken. Unfortunately, it isn’t just the print news media that has borne the brunt of disruption but also a whole gamut of digital new media that have had their own comeuppance in recent years.

However, a new revolution is underway now that threatens to remake the news media business. High-profile journalists are leaving the newspapers and magazines they work for in droves and venturing out on their own. They are enabled by tech start-ups like the newsletter publisher Substack, which is converting journalists into instant entrepreneurs by making the publishing process easy — and profitable. Substack already has over 600,000 paying subscribers across its network. Most of them have multiple subscriptions. Though critics deride Substack as the Uber of content creation, the ongoing realignment of human capital is likely to upend the business model of news.

Why would any well-known journalist leave a paid job at a top newspaper to become an independent newsletter writer? For one thing: money. The top 10 writers at Substack make over US$15 million ($19.8 million) annually after paying a 10% fee to the platform’s management. Put it another way, top Substack writers are making on aggregate US$1.5 million a year each and they are just getting started on monetising their work. There are several dozen more who make upwards of half a million dollars a year.

To continue reading,

Sign in to access this Premium article.

Subscription entitlements:

Less than $9 per month
3 Simultaneous logins across all devices
Unlimited access to latest and premium articles
Bonus unlimited access to online articles and virtual newspaper on The Edge Malaysia (single login)

Related Stories

Stay updated with Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram | Facebook