Slate is no longer a magazine. It's a podcast company

Welcome! I'm Simon Owens and this is my media newsletter. If you've received it then you either subscribed or someone forwarded it to you. If you fit into the latter camp and want to subscribe, then you can click on this handy little button:

Hey everyone, I have a short newsletter for you today, but before we jump into it I wanted to start with a quick editor’s note.

So I was just perusing through my spreadsheets, and it looks like the size of my email list has increased by about 70% since around February 20th, which is when I launched the paid version of my newsletter. So that means the newsletter has grown by about as much in the last eight months as it did in the five years prior to that. That’s pretty amazing.

I attribute most of that growth to the fact that I stopped publishing my longform articles elsewhere and instead started uploading them directly to Substack. Since then, my readers have begun to share my articles with their followers and colleagues much more often.

This newsletter is about as indie as they come. Not only does it not have any institutional backing, but I don’t have a large budget set aside for purchasing ads on social media and other newsletters. I’ve also avoided the traditional “growth hacks” that a lot of other newsletters embrace.

For instance, a lot of people have suggested that I secure recommendation “swaps” with other newsletters. The way this works is that I would approach other newsletter writers, on Substack and elsewhere, and offer to recommend their newsletter to my readers if in exchange they recommend mine to theirs. You can scale up a following much more quickly using this method.

I gave this strategy a lot of thought but ultimately rejected it. I’m fiercely protective of my readership and wouldn’t want to endorse content that I’m not fully behind. Whenever I link to something in this newsletter, it’s because I actually think it’s good content and worth your time.

All of this is to say, if you’ve been enjoying this free newsletter and want to show your appreciation for the effort, could you take a few moment to recommend it to your social media followers and/or colleagues? Here, I’ll even provide you some language you can copy and paste:

I've really been enjoying @simonowens' media newsletter. If you work in the industry and aren’t subscribed, then you’re missing out.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into some industry news:

Industry news

Slate is continuing to seem more and more like a podcast company that happens to publish an online magazine rather than vice versa. [link]

YouTubers are being put in the awkward position of trying to appeal to both connected TV and mobile viewers. These two demographics seek out vastly different kinds of content. [link]

Even though the rise of streaming video services has been good for consumers, it's cutting drastically into the profit margins of traditional media companies. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing since many had insane margins. [link]

New York Times passed 6 million digital subscribers while Gannett only just reaching 1 million, which is spread out over 260 daily newspapers. There's a huge discrepancy in paid subscriptions between a handful of big national papers and everyone else. [link]

After reading this, I continue to think Quibi could have been a much more viable business if it hadn't blown so much money on overpriced A-list Hollywood stars and instead invested in much more affordable YouTube talent. [link]

"There are now podcasts in every place that traditional audio used to be, except in local news. There are good reasons for this, but one is: Nobody has tried to build it." [link]

One more thing

You’re probably aware by now that this newsletter is entirely dependent on paid subscribers to keep it running. You may also know that paying subscribers get access to case study interviews I conduct on a pretty regular basis.

To give you a taste of what these interviews look like, I’ve placed a couple in front of the paywall:

  1. This newspaper veteran launched his own Chicago-focused newsletter, and it’s thriving

  2. This site about barbecue generates 1 million views and $100k a month

  3. How to launch a thriving news cooperative in your city

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Enjoy your weekend, and celebrate responsibly.