The death of content curation: Is Medium turning into a sub-Substack?
So, Medium’s publications are basically dead. They paid handsomely. Not anymore.
I’ll miss publishing at OneZero and Level, but more than that, I’ll miss the business model — professional writers getting paid by publications whith a whole editorial structure. Not so much the long wait to hear back from editors as, like most good pubs, they were always overwhelmed with pitches, but definitely the quality of the edits, the exchanges, etc.
Although we don’t know yet what Medium’s planning, I’d bet they are moving towards a “substack” model, ie, they’ll select a few star writers, people already famous and capable of building a network on their own, while letting go journalists that still need traditional pubs to survive.
At least that’s what I could gather from the info we have so far and Mediu’ms idea of helping out/promoting selected journalists/writers.
It doesn’t matter how much money they’ll save from shifting the model of these pubs, the money they “share” with writers is less than pennies and I doubt this will change for the absolute majority of them (us).
And that’s bad news. For everyone (well, except for those few selected by Medium to be their stars).
What explains such a drastic change of direction?
Maybe people like to hear/read the opinion of others, generally who agree with them, more than reading good journalistic articles that might challenge their preconceived ideas? It wouldn’t be a novelty, Facebook works like that. The whole internet seems to be based on solely reading what we like and never being challenged or… “offended” - that seems to be the buzzword of the decade.
I’m not a fan of Substack, but also I have nothing against it, I believe it’s just another player with a business model of its own and that is ultimately worked. Sure, I like reading some journalists from time to time with cunning opinions that probably wouldn’t find a home anywhere else — or at least not with the same amount of freedom.
But I absolutely despise how the industry tends to copy everything that a competitor creates — see the unbearable Stories that are everywhere now and soon Clubhouse will also be copied everywhere (I hate audios) despite all the security issues around the app.
Substack works, but this doesn’t mean that everyone has to become the new Substack.
I agree that itgives a lot of freedom for journalists to publish whatever they want, whenever they want without the need of an editorial approval (or budget available). But that’s also its main weakeness as it promotes only (or mostly) those journalists who already enjoyed some success within the traditional media landscape - and also means no accountability, no oversight.
You answer to no one. You can write about absolutely anything you want and the limit is set only by your subscribers (if you care about them). That has a clear positive side, but also a negative one.
Medium, to some extent, was already some sort of hybrid, allowing people to have their own profiles and writing pretty much whatever they wanted, BUT they had also an editorial team and publications with high(er) standards, meaning that you could find a safe heaven amid all the chaos.
You could join to read a friend’s blog, to read some famous journalist’s blog or to follow countless independent publications hosted by Medium, but you could also read Medium’s own publications knowing that they had higher standards than most pubs hosted by them and several bloggers on the platform.
Now all is left seems to be the unedited chaos. I’ve always been a fan of content curation and now more than ever. We are inundated with content every day, and we have fewer and fewer gatekeepers capable of organizing the chaos. We have lost another one.
Medium is great for someone starting out, to self-publish, gather some followers and build some sort of portfolio and network (like Blogger in the past and the whole blogosphere), but for someone already in the industry, it’s just not worth it.
You’ll earn pennies for every thousand readers and most of the time it’s impossible to just write for fun/for Medium aside of all the pitches and assignments you have that actually pay for your rent and expenses.