As one of the 12 recipients of that Substack Local grant 12 months ago, I can probably shed a little light on how we're all going now...

As you would have seen, we're a mixed group, with about half based in the US and half elsewhere (including me in Australia). My publication, Murray Bridge News, was about a year old when the grant came in, but most of the other Substack Local participants used the funding to launch new newsletters. And most of them are doing amazing work, like David Hundeyin's reporting on corruption in Nigeria and George Chidi's powerful and knowledgable writing about violence in Atlanta.

A few of us have published updates on how our publications are going, including:

- Murray Bridge News: https://www.murraybridge.news/p/after-two-years-a-new-chapter-begins

- The Food Section: https://thefoodsection.substack.com/p/the-state-of-the-food-section

- Arizona Agenda: https://arizonaagenda.substack.com/p/time-flies-when-youre-having-fun

I can only speak to my publication, but in my experience the key to success on Substack has been realising that it's not a silver bullet. Yes, as Substack promises, you can start a publication with almost zero overheads and start making some income, as I did after I was stood down from my old job in 2020. But those of us in the Substack Local program who are most clearly on the path to sustainability are, I would posit, the ones who have put the greatest focus on the business side as well as the editorial side. I'm lucky enough to live in a community where the cost of living is low. I draw a modest wage for the hours I've put in, and have invested in winning secondary funding, marketing, opening an office and employing a part-time journalist. Whether I'll be able to sustain all those things in 12 months, as I bring sponsorships back into my revenue mix, is an open question! But I'm optimistic. I know some of the other Substack Local recipients are not quite as optimistic, despite the high quality of the work they're producing.

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This is the future of local news.

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I rounded up some recent news about the Arizona Agenda folks and how they’re faring: https://coloradomedia.substack.com/p/-rocky-mountain-media-review-8f4

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