To see if this would be a feature I want, I went to Medium's "Staff Picks" page to see what they already care about. Front and center is an article about some kind of convention for twins. Also featured: a post about witches getting political and another post about design lessons learned from cats.
Not sold on Medium's ability to curate articles...
Particularly that "design lessons learned from cats" piece haha! Can't see a newsroom anywhere else in the world being impressed by that ...
Medium doesn't pay for content (at the moment) and doesn't do advertising. While people will happily click on garbage content if it's free, I don't see anyone paying for a "Membership" so they can get a stream of cat design stories and low-effort listicles.
all in all it's weird that medium intend to monetize the viewers instead of the publishers. well many newspapers do that but then readers have back news articles, not blogs and opinion pieces.
That's a good definition of a magazine and of a newspaper.
- As a SaaS company, do you allow customers to pause their account?
- Why does every employer asks about my current salary during a job interview? https://www.quora.com/Why-does-every-employer-asks-about-my-...
- What is the strangest archaeological object ever found? https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-strangest-archaeological-o...
- What is the typical revenue ramp for a venture-backed SaaS startup? https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-typical-revenue-ramp-for-a...
Their personalized curated feed is already really good. I had to stop looking at their weekly email because my clickthrough rate was too high and it was a time sink.
If I was Medium I'd hire a team (three or four) experienced newspaper editors  and use their expertise to bring back some discipline back to the story process. Do you remember newspapers? There were hundreds of competing stories but the news was carefully selected on a daily basis. This is what is lacking.
The machine is being gamed. Maybe the editorial teams' suggestions should be used to train some aspects of story and category selection? Machine learning is a tool and if Facebook with all it's propellor heads have a problem, what hope have Medium? A different approach is needed.
 Lots of newspaper people are out of work or under utilised and as such their availability is high. For example this tweet highlighting guardian journalists getting the sack: https://twitter.com/Hadas_Gold/status/844580929226072065
They're that thing my dad would buy on the weekends, read one page of, and then we'd use it for potato peels, lining the floor when painting rooms, and stuff like that.
By the time I was old enough to even consider reading newspapers, they had devolved into clickbait sensationalist garbage. Designed primarily to find whatever boogeyman would make each newspaper's audience most likely to buy the issue. For left newspapers the top story was always about a businessman doing something bad, for right newspapers the top story was about how this or that nationality is threatening our economy. Sometimes both sides had the top story as this or that natural disaster or war that happened so far away that it's irrelevant.
At least the trashy magazines were always honest about being trashy. Their top story was this or that random celebrity doing some outrageous act that nobody cares about.
Honestly, the problem is tying remuneration to readership. The other problems are emergent.
Edit: the intro of this System of a Down video sums up my thoughts excellently --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vBGOrI6yBk
Talk about generalization. The funny thing about poor catch-all statements like this is that I only need one counter example to make your argument silly. The Economist is one of the finest publications in the world (yes, it's a newspaper). WSJ and NYTimes additionally are totally great papers (although I only read the Economist regularly).
Maybe give these publications another try? It seems like you've limited your exposure to potentially great works.
I pay for NYT and some stories are amazing. I finish maybe 5% of the ones I start reading and I probably attempt less than 5% of what they publish.
But, let's see. NYT headline right now: "Terror attack kills 4 in Heart of London". WSJ: "UK parliament attacker leaves 4 dead, 40 injured". The Economist: "A Brazilian meat scandal damages the country's two global producers"
Meh, sensationalism. How is any of this pertinent to me as a 29 year old engineer in SF? Other than making me afraid of my own shadow and riling up negative emotions.
Maybe the problem is that I am fundamentally just not interested in news. That seems increasingly likely. My fav NYT stories, for instance, are the researched not-news article. The Avalanche was one of the best things I ever read.
Well, hopefully you finish more than 5% of my reply...
> Meh, sensationalism. How is any of this pertinent to me as a 29 year old engineer in SF? Other than making me afraid of my own shadow and riling up negative emotions.
Seriously? Those are the only thoughts that an article like that (it's finely written, just read it) can evoke on you?
Makes me sad to read your statements, I can only hope that you're not representative of a "29 year old engineer in SF"
I happen to be 31 years old, an engineer and also live in SF... a terrorist attack in London, does happen to be pertinent to me.
It's interesting yes. It's sad that some people died. It's inspiring that life continues, that people get on with their lives and don't let themselves get bogged down because some people have stupid ideas. All of that is great.
The article even teaches me some practical things about how terrorist attacks work. How to thwart them, how to carry them out. What happens after.
Fundamentally though, London has a 0.24% death rate per year. With 8.6 million residents that's 56 dead people per day.
I'm sure those 4 people that died were very important to their families and loved ones. And the other 50-ish that died on the same day I'm sure were just as important to their loved ones.
And what am i to do with this information? How does it affect my life? I went to work today, I'll go tomorrow. I'll kiss my girlfriend goodnight and play with my parrot. I'll waste some time online. Maybe write or make a video.
I'm just as likely to die in a terrorist attack tomorrow as I was yesterday. It is overall not something worth worrying about.
Even the people I know who live in London have all said "Meh, this affects nothing. I got shit to do"
My point is that following the news is kind of toxic. Every day they find ten things you should be upset about. Why? To what end? What's the point? When one crisis blows over, they'll find the next one.
The people I know in London (I'm about 150 miles west of there) most certainly were not saying, "Meh, this affects nothing".
For those of us old enough to have lived through the IRA bombings of the early 90s, you've gotta really step up your terrorist game if you actually want Londoners to react in a meaningful way.
Despite the public 'shock' shown in the media, most Londoners typically do just go 'meh', and get on with their day. London is a BIG city, 8+ million people in it every day. Unless tragedy affects you or someone you know, it's hard to get upset about it.
 Absolutely not condoning terrorism, just making a point.
As someone who lives in London (but no longer works by westminster) - this is my unpopular opinion. I'm pretty sure a bunch of people have been stabbed this year in random/gang violence but nobody is terrified by that.
Yes, it sucks that a guy in a car can intentionally run a bunch of people over. I'm sad for the police officer killed in the line of duty. It's a bad day. Literally nothing has changed.
I lived through IRA bombings although I can't recall much, I was near a pub that a neo-nazi nail-bombed in '99 and I was on a train one station along in '05. So I have trouble working out why I'm so not-scared.
Lets be honest, the pertinence of an attack in London is being established not because people dieing is pertinent, its that the people are dieing in a city that looks like yours and mine.
If there were a terror attack in London of a similar magnitude every Wednesday for the next 16 weeks, I imagine the headlines in July would be somewhat more muted (though of course there would then be op-ed pieces wondering what we could do to stop terror attacks happening every Wednesday, just like there are pieces in the newspaper periodically wondering what can be done to improve the situation in Iraq or Syria).
The guardian, telegraph, independent, and times are sort of exceptions. The FT is a definite exception.
Two UK newspapers were highlighted by the EU for providing such inaccurate coverage of migration they were likely leading to hate crime.
Just one example: Here's what Statins do, according to the front page of one newspaper. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C6GuXQhWUAAN5F5.jpg
It's an incoherent mess of terrible science reporting blasted across the front page.
PROOF STATINS SAVE MILLIONS
STATINS IN NEW HEALTH ALERT
STATINS REALLY DO SAVE YOUR LIFE
HEALTH CHIEF SLAMS STATINS
HIGH DOSE OF STATINS CAN BEAT DEMENTIA
DOCTORS BAN ON STATINS
TAKE STATINS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE
NEW STATINS BOMBSHELL
OFFICIAL: STATINS ARE SAFE
STATINS: NEW SAFETY CHECKS
PROOF STATINS BEAT DEMENTIA
HOW STATINS CAN CAUSE DIABETES
STATINS FIGHT CANCER
STATINS SLASH RISK OF STROKE BY 30%
STATINS INCREASE RISK OF DIABETES
STATINS ADD A MERE 3 DAYS TO LIFE
STATINS DOUBLE RISK OF DIABETES
STATINS AGE YOU FASTER
NEW STATINS SAFETY ALERT
STATINS LINKED TO 227 DEATHS
PROOF AT LAST STATINS ARE SAFE
The question was do I personally remember newspapers and the answer is no. I remember them as a thing that exists, yes, but not as a thing that provides value.
news has been about sensationalism at all cost.
Try reading magazines like The Spectator, The National Review and The American Conservative. Even if you don't agree with everything they write (or especially if you don't agree with everything they write), they're on the whole well written and present their view in a pretty well argued manner.
Maybe that is a bit extreme, but I think Economists readers (I think the publication is center right?) can pick up a center left or far left publications from time to time.
"Honestly? No. They're that thing my dad would buy on the weekends, read one page of, and then we'd use it for potato peels, lining the floor when painting rooms, and stuff like that."
I see no problem with not living in the time of centralised news. A quick history lesson. Newspapers are old forms of information dissemination, they do however offer a glimpse of a solution to some problems you describe, Not all.
News in the form of facts used to be collected by reporters, and journalists who would write up what they saw. The raw information would be passed to editors (subeditor in newspapers) to correct, then transcribe news into a house style fit for publishing. This is what we used to see in news. On the news-stand, the radio and to a lesser extent television.
The WWW removed this technical hurdle to publish news. Think about that. Some of the processes were technical requirements, others were there for accuracy. This resulted in (degrees) of quality news.
"By the time I was old enough to even consider reading newspapers, they had devolved into clickbait sensationalist garbage."
The money part is one problem. There are hints of what companies are trying.  The rivers of revenue from car sales, houses, jobs are gone. They had a monopoly and have now lost it. Journalism and news was always subsidised from these revenue streams. I don't know the answer to this.
Then there is the problem of where we get our information. The real problem now, is serious attempts to generate dis-information. Disinformation, distortion of news is not new.  At it's mildest it's the annoying advertising passed as news. What is going on in the Whitehouse is at the extreme end.  For most of us reading online we have to wade through the middle ground trying to work out what is worth reading. This is a job that could be tackled by humans trained in understanding and curating news and information, aided by smart algorythms. AI won't solve this problem (yet). It is too easy to game.
In the mean time, as Dave Winer suggests, invest carefully in your own personal news flows. 
 "Ads, he said, “[are causing] increasing amounts of misinformation…and pressure to put out more content more cheaply — depth, originality, or quality be damned. It’s unsustainable and unsatisfying for producers and consumers alike….We need a new model.”"
 "Since January I've been adding to a thread on how Bannon and Trump are building a disinformation validation network."
 If you read through the CIA reading room, search for Soviet disinformation and be surprised at the attempts to destabilise western democracy through fake news: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/soviet%2...
 "This is a thread about #RussiaGate and Paul Manafort's $10M/year contract to further the interests of Putin's government:" https://twitter.com/AndreaChalupa/status/844710804985393153
 "One of the most patriotic things you can do is to upgrade the quality and breadth of the news you read. Invest in your personal news flow." https://twitter.com/davewiner/status/844691778724859904
Today, Spotify's algorithms couldn't figure out that I might be interested in a new album released by one of my most-listened-to bands last year. I didn't know about it until seeing it on Wikipedia, of all places, since I rely (over-rely) on Spotify for discovery.
Netflix is great at telling me I might be interested in stuff I've heard of but intentionally not watched cause I'm not interested in it despite superficial similarities with stuff I do like. They seem rather useless at detecting that I like a certain type/style/"quality" (this is too pretentious, but I can't come up with a better word at the moment) of movie/show regardless of genre rather than a certain set of genre tags.
And so on.
What I wouldn't do to get most machine-learning curated recommendation engines with human-curated ones.
Think of it as the difference between reading The Wirecutter and buying based on whatever Amazon.com's homepage pops up.
Or comparing a daily digest of The New Yorker with whatever shit articles Facebook bubbles up to me.
If reading a news source isn't worth doing once a week it probably isn't worth doing once a month, once a year, or ever.
I don't think the issue is your clickthrough rate. I think the issue is that once you click through to the articles they don't contain anything of value. Your email sounds like a curated list of clickbait articles without any substance.
It sounds like they've used machine learning to curate the most clickable titles (short-term gains) while ignoring quality of content (long-term retention).
In a high-growth environment, for a startup that's less than five years old, that isn't surprising.
Sure, people may pay for good articles, but they definitely won't pay for a "new homepage" or "offline reading list," both of which should be standard in 2016.
This does not seem like a promising solution to Medium's existential revenue issues.
I feel like they would be better off just putting forward their dream and then asking for member contributions the way public broadcasting used to do with their pledge drives.
As others have pointed out here I don't see how empowering some specific group to decide is any different from a traditional publisher model, or indeed how picking a group steeped in a specific culture bubble will 'fix media'. (Though hey, I invite them to prove me wrong... Any fix would be a welcome fix these days)
Actually thought this was kind of funny at the time because a few reaction pieces were like, "they are being mysterious about their new business model."
This was clearly going to memberships. If you aren't trying to mine traffic for ad dollars, that leaves one other monetization avenue (other than like, an NPR "donate and get a tote bag" strategy).
Don't think that's a bad idea intrinsically, but not sure what content Medium provides me that I can't get elsewhere right now. Most of what I can remember reading on their platform is basically LinkedIn Influencer stuff but on a nicer interface.
"How I stood up when they made fun of my freckles in elementary school"
"7 tips for a more productive workday"
"Somebody hurt my feelings. And I'm precious, so you're gonna read 30000 words about it"
Ev is not wrong, media is broken. And the advertising system that feeds it is broken too. People reading articles generally aren't interested in 'random' advertising, trade magazines do ok because if you're interested in the trade there are vendors that supply that trade who can advertise in a very targeted way.
It would be interesting to have Medium partner up with Blendle (blendle.com) where you'd pay 0.05 to read a medium article, and the standard Blendle refund rules apply. Assuming 2 cents for Blendle, 2 cents for Medium and 1 cent for the author. An article with 80,000 'reads' would pay the author $800. It would be interesting to see if the capital outlay would provide the necessary curation to insure a quality queue of interesting things to read.
I "love" these calculations: So, you suggest it is okay that the content generator (aka author) gets 1/5th of the money readers spend, and intermediary organizations get 4/5th?
What if (in this example) Blendle and Medium somehow fail to generate the 80.000 reads - just by promoting other articles? They get their 4 cents from other content, the author of the article in the example gets nothing (or much less) - but is totally depended on Bendle and Medium promoting (and paying) him.
Why should I, as an author, support the intermediaries in this model? Wouldn't this model kill quality instead of promoting quality? As an author, I would still have to favor articles that are written fast and focus on sensationalism to make a living, not on quality, research and balanced presentation.
> but is totally depended on Bendle and Medium promoting (and paying) him.
Medium, for instance, is not valuable: it's random essays from random people, who, regrettably, often tend to be pretentious (I don't know why). I can get that from forums and subreddits, often without the pretension. I subscribe to the New Yorker: I love their longform non-fiction and their art content. The rest of it I really don't bother with, particularly their fiction. I would probably subscribe to a longform magazine focused on foreign policy / politics / governance with a strong establishment liberal bent. I would not subscribe to a "feed of essays by people of varying qualifications". Hacker News provides that. I subscribe to the NYT. I would judge media to be in a bad way - the people who are educated and interested are already finding serious content and paying for it, and the people who are uneducated and uninterested consume unserious content and often not paying for it.
 I use this in a very loose term: say, 8th grade education. Look at the literacy stats for the United States. Nothing to be excited about. But they explain a great deal.
I've suggested to Blendle that they should negotiate with these sites to put a Blendle link to the article in their Paywall pop up. Not sure if they took that idea anywhere.
Right now, Medium is a very noisy site. Noisy in a good way. Lots of energy. Lots of advocacy posts, full of swear words for emphasis. It's become a place where bold new voices periodically show up to make a statement. (Talia Jane, etc.) I try to skim it a couple times a week. Skim is the key word; the site's stories are very hit or miss. It's possible to breeze past five duds in a row so quickly that I hardly notice, and that's okay.
Nothing about current Medium feels like it has the makings of a judicious, curated concert hall of careful writing. Signing up a few famous writers won't fix this mismatch. Erratic is a big part of Medium's brand right now, and to forfeit that in a belated dash to "quality" feels dismissive of what the brand stands for.
It's really hard for me to see Medium as a place for the kind of WSJ/FT paid content that's aimed at rich high achievers who want business or lifestyle tips that the masses don't know about. It's even harder to see it succeeding as a paid online home for long, magazine-style features. Too many rivals in every genre are giving it away.
Building up a paid online audience is hard work, and it goes slowly at first. Jessica Lessin at The Information is doing it about as well as anyone, and she's defined her mission very tightly.
This latest strategy switch by Medium seems very prone to trying a lot of different formats in a hurry, without the patience to stick with one quietly for 2-3 years, waiting for the first little bits of traction to take hold.
Initially we went with a similar membership concept, except people subscribed to one writer directly, and got access to the collective. It barely worked, and we moved over to more of a crowdfunding model which was about 100x more effective.
In the end we worked with major publications and hundreds of journalists, had a million dollar matching fund program, and paid out millions of dollars to writers directly, but it still didn't work as a big business.
This makes me think Medium is pretty clueless about what they are getting into - especially after raising more than $100 million.
After moving to the crowdfunding model, what was the primary problem? Were the unit economics not conducive to retaining good writers who would attract readers, or conversely was there no way to sustain a margin for the platform?
The news market is a heavily competitive one, with hundreds of sites offering everything for free with ads. As a result, most people just don't see the need to pay for news. They can find the exact same information in a million other places, and the friction from going from 'free with ads' to 'pay for content' is fairly considerable.
It's like trying to sell a smartphone app. The pressures against it are considerable due to the race to the bottom and a large percentage of people just don't see the point in paying.
So it's a business that's hard to build trust in, requires a decent amount of marketing/awareness, will attract a far smaller audience than the free sites and ends up being a difficult one to monetise properly.
Digital subscriptions (NY Times, Washington Post) have seen a boost since the election in the U.S., but does anyone pay for multiple subscriptions? It's frustrating - even as someone who really wants to support media - that each outlet has their own barrier.
This is so different from how we consume other media (video: Amazon Prime, HBO, Netflix; music: Spotify, Apple Music) where I can get access to a library and it makes the tradeoff with finding a free version online easier to deal with.
To my knowledge, major publishers have never tried this and they instead are caught in the digital impression arbitrage game.
Admittedly, Medium doesn't have those publishers on board but I do think that's an angle the market has not tested/figured out.
Is he saying that subscription revenue is going to writers hand-picked by Medium editors and not driven by writers who have more readers? I don't get that approach. If anything, as a subscriber I'd want my subscription dollars to go to the writers of articles I've liked/recommended. Why are they demonizing those kinds of clicks?
Am I understanding this wrong?
The prospect of paying $5 a month to fill Bill Simmons, MG Siegler or Anil Dash's pockets some more doesn't really appeal.
Its a decent platform that would make some money, but not the kind of amounts it raised.
I like what YouTube did with YouTubeRed, give an option to people not have ads is the way, but keep it accessible to every one. I think that is their only solution, but now they have doubled down on no-ads. God Bless Them.
Good Intentions is a not a great business plan.
Just take my $5 and divvy it up among all the articles I hearted. Keep it simple!
I've read so much great stuff on Medium I'd hate to see it fail. But, the hand-picked articles on the front page are almost never ones I really value. Maybe I'm just not Medium's target audience.
Yep. It's not really doing or saying anything to assure readers that they know where the quality lies, just giving the same 'media sucks, let's improve it' spiel that most publications start out with, minus the commitment a publication has to cater to its readers (donating through medium essentially gives up your control as to who gets supported, as opposed to the straightforward idea of donating to the publisher/writers you like directly).
I can't see many people as opinionated as medium users lining up to give up that control for blind faith in a platform, but hey, I guess tumblr got enough people to buy into the idea of their convention to fund their ball pit, so who knows, maybe it'll work out.
I read way less than I could because I don't want to spend precious minutes every day sifting through random articles. There's way less opportunity cost compared to Hacker News or even Reddit where I can get quality reading for not a lot of effort.
Click through, and there is a vanity demo badge that says I was a "Member since March 2017" - wait, what? Scroll down - Ah, the first ever mention of money. $5 per month. Close browser window.
Something about the way they are trying to sell this doesn't sit well with me. If it is a paid subscription, then sell it from the outset as a subscription - not some sort of chic, cool membership in a secret society.
Granted Medium has some great articles, and I will still continue to publish my thoughts there, but there are too many 'listicles' and inane 'life lesson' articles for me to spend $5 per month on the platform.
Site-wide paywall won't work, since majority of writers do not want to limit access to their content and publish to get eyeballs. Metered access might solve that problem but a lot of testing is needed to figure out right amount of access limiting, so casual readers would never see a wall.
Premium section might work but big question is how to split revenue among writers and how to select writers. Share based on recommend count? Perhaps. How much would Medium have after payouts?
Premium feature(s) would work but what.
Giving existing, relatively big, publishers a monetization tool to create and manage subscriptions. Big question here is again, how much Medium would make after payouts?
Premium section seems like a lot of work but could work.
Attracting big publishers and giving them great CMS and great way to monetize might work as well but it is a very different path.
Honestly I'm not sure what I'd really get from my $5. A single page browsing experience doesn't sound amazing. If anything, they should do that for everyone because the infinite scroll tends to just get people to read more.
For some of the more popular pages, like for example war is boring is one of my favs, they seem to generate a following unto themselves, probably by finding and targeting their niche audience. Most people on medium would probably find war is boring, well, boring.
It seems like the hard part is combining "thoughtful, well researched" with "interest of the reader" without becoming an echo chamber, censor, or deemed irrelevant by the reader.
It really rubs me the wrong way that I have to ask to be notified when medium will be ready for me to pay for this service.
Or, if what you're insulted by is having to pay, how does this differ than being notified about other paid products and services e.g. the launch of the next Google Pixel phone?
It's like you go to the store, standing there with your bills in hand, and the guy just says 'please wait there, I'll get to you when I'm ready.' then proceeds to have a smoke break.
Medium's new business simply isn't ready yet. It's like the restaurant that across the street from my apartment last year and put up a "Grand Opening: March 15th" sign in February. Or Apple announcing their new iPhone before its release. Etc. Nothing wrong with that.
So let's say I get 10 article credits for my monthly subscription. I'd be glad to "pay" $0.50 an article if I knew 80% went to the writer. Each writer would have to invest in as many free teaser articles that they needed to write in order develop an audience. Medium could then still recommend articles they like but I'd rather see ones that people "like me" read and enjoyed. I'd sign up for a service like this so please take my money.
It seems clear that there is a new appetite for paying to support quality content that did not exist four months ago.
But I already pay for quality content that is curated by an editorial authority (The Washington Post, etc.).
I'm still looking for way to support good content that is too niche for mass-market consumption.
What I really want is a micropayments service that saves a record of every blog post I want to support. Then, at the end of the month, I can set my "subscription" budget and allocate it to the creator of each saved post based on the value I got from it and my desire to see the creator produce similar content.
Basically I want to:
1. support content I read
2. but not blow my monthly budget by paying a fixed price per piece
3. and not support clickbait junk just because I was linked to it and read it
I think Flattr is supposed to work to be a little like this, but I couldn't even get it to accept my (American) credit card. Patreon is intended for larger recurring payments to creators. So as far as I know this doesn't already exists. But I really wish it did.
Isn't this just clickbait all over again? If you were actually willing to pay for good writing, a simple email address or paypal link would be enough. But you aren't, so it's not, and online writers have to do all sorts of strange things to pay the bills.
Instead of a feed of stories (recommended by people you follow) you get them in a grid layout.
Worth $5? Hell no. If I was paying for design, I'd pay it to the folks at theoutline.com (nicest media site by miles and miles). However, there are great writers on Medium and they deserve to be supported. Take my money.
Also, as an aside, they really should let people change the look of the posts beyond the header image. Content tends to look too much alike and while Medium's design is pretty nice, I'm sure there are content creators that would like to change how their posts look beyond the basic controls.
I like the platform and how dynamic it is in a multimedia sense, yet the 'anchor' is still the written word.
This is a new time for media enterprises. Even the NYT is getting a refresh - according to Taibbi at Rolling Stone, 132,000 subscriptions in the first 18 days following the election.
There is a craving for better signal-to-noise voices. The pendulum has swung - obviously - in an extremist direction, and it will take someone of incredible merit and stature to rise above and simply, deftly, and beautifully dispatch with such rhetoric on a daily basis.
I'm pretty optimistic in Medium's chances to cultivate a new arena. Heck, even BuzzFeed is getting into the serious journalism arena.
The advertising part of the model may have been removed, but I think there's still value in enabling publishers with tools to sell their content directly to readers.
I'd like for Medium's plan to succeed, but I don't feel any similar urgency about the content they host, so I'm not sure how they will get people like me to open our wallets.
On the one hand, having superstar writers/journalists might be an inducement. On the other, some of the best reads from Medium have been deeply intimate pieces from non-writers.
The publications concept in Medium has sometimes been great. I really like "Backchannel" and "Bullshitist." But these publications have a tendency to die out (eg "Matter", and some I can't remember).
It would take an amazing "federation" of thought-leaders curating phenomenal articles to convince me to fork-over a monthly fee in addition to what I pay for the NYTimes.
If it's based on portion of page views, we're back to encouraging clickbait--but now we're paying for it!
I'd pay the $5/month if they could convince me they've solved this problem. But to me it sounds like they'll have some "staff curation"--which other commenters have pointed out is questionable--and otherwise just be hoping the non-advertiser revenue magically changes things.
I'm not convinced this will work.
I'm not sure this is the right man to lead the "curation" of opinions. Or at least, if he does, he needs to be upfront about his own political leanings.
Social justice warfare and anti-Trumpism may make the world a better place.
But fighting democratic trends by censoring / controlling the opinions of a significant proportion of the population may also inflame rightwing opinions and give Trump semi-legitimacy.
-asking as someone who publishes on Medium for a national sports outlet. This really worries me for that reason, and for the reason that I already find Medium's curation, or the things they tell me I'd be interested in to be extremely boring and not at all worth reading.
"the big difference is that it’s not an endless feed. Instead, it’s a finite digest of stories, organized into sections, and updated three times a day.
Topics are different from tags because they’re curated by experts in their fields and they bring the top stories directly to your homepage."
"We will be routing 100% of the revenue from founding members (those who sign up in the first few months) to writers and independent publishers who have important work to do."
How much of the revenue will be paid out to writers and publishers in time?
I assume Medium wants to make money from this venture so I'll hazard a guess that the $5 will become $10, and Medium will take 30%.
I got tapped to be Medium's first external editor. I'm going to run a section on personal development: productivity, health, life hacking, maybe some gadgets, plus a few more crazy topics.
Medium's execution idea is to take a subject-matter expert (I run Coach.me) and give that expert a modest editorial budget and a lot of freedom. Literally, Ev's directions were:
"I'm interested in any topic you're interested in that you think matters to smart people."
I think that model of smart, subject matter experts filling editorial roles can actually work really well to produce high-quality media. The heyday of O'Reilly books (when all programmers had O'Reilly books on their desks) mostly ran this way. The main editors were also great coders. The O'Reilly conferences still run this way.
In my case, having a budget has been an amazing switch from the editorial I had been doing. It took me about three days to start sending out hyperbolic statements like:
"There hasn’t been a personal development publication that mattered since Gina Trapani left Life Hacker in 2009. This could be the next one."
Experiencing the switch really highlighted for me what's wrong with the status quo.
In personal development, blogging has been completely corrupted by content marketing. Literally a content marketing company, Buffer, came in and owned productivity blogging for awhile. Look at the top productivity stories on Medium and you'll find most of the authors are marketers rather than academics or coaches.
So what you see in personal development content is articles that have been fully optimized for virality. The headline is everything. I run a Medium publication that is a group blog for our coaches (Better Humans) and we saw a 5X change in traffic after we asked writers to run their headline through an online headline scoring tool.
But... having content dominated by content marketers feels like empty calories pretty quickly. Not to be too prickly--but a content marketer doesn't have any experience with how the reader is going to implement the advice. That makes for functionally weak articles. Either the reader attempts nothing or attempts something and gives up in frustration.
A personal development article that works is actually really hard to write. Tim Ferriss does this exceptionally well. And if you deconstruct one of his posts you'll find a lot of parts to it. You can't write a short article if you actually care about changing people's lives. I've been on the receiving end of a Tim Ferriss article and those users come in hyped up to the point where they spike retention.
Maybe the current crop of content marketers don't care about impact. Or they just see themselves as the front of the funnel.
Well, here's the switch with content in a membership model. Our content is the end of the funnel. Medium already has the reader's money. So we're going to write completely different articles than anyone else because our article is the product. It's supposed to change your life on its own.
These high quality articles take time to write. The people who know how to write them are busy. In other words, I think really great content for this particular niche really can't exist in any other format. Not sure I completely made the case for that, but it's definitely what I'm feeling after a few days.
I haven't thought too hard about what other niches get transformed in a good way if you put them behind membership. I know people are mentioning news. That experience seems lame to me too. But I do pay for ESPN's Insider. That's just because I'm a basketball junkie. I used to have a subscription for Rails tutorials. I would pay for insider-y stuff--if I love your book and you have a paywall for your daily blog then I'll pay. Mostly, I think this just comes down to any other pay product: if the content is the type of content I love and is trustworthy and is higher quality than I can get anywhere... of course I'd pay for that.
This "pivot" is just about Medium being a better magazine editor than the current magazines.
Wondering if the click bait type articles this might promote was a reason to not pursue this direction.
>Media is broken. And we need to fix it.
Medium is broken and needs fixing.
Medium has no journalism and no good writing. It only has content. Content Marketing. Either for companies or for individuals.
Subscriptions are a way of fixing this - but get off your high horse first and get introspective. Medium is worse than BuzzFeed and Business Insider as it stands.
A lot of the content I read is written for the benefit of being top-of-the-sales-funnel. There are thought leaders that I'd pay a reasonable amount (maybe $50-100 a year - thats what I think I paid for flowingdata.com access) to read high quality resources from as I can't access conferences or afford their training, and most importantly I'm not interested in their products as most of these products don't sit with me as the person in charge of the budget. Interesting there isn't a "patron for professionals", or even for people who want quality content from thought leaders (i.e. makeup, photography...)
This is wrong. https://theringer.com/, for example, is hosted on Medium.
Sure Grantland had a lot of silly pop culture stuff, but it had good journalism and writing, too.
It's really sad that Bill Simmons seems to truly believe people only want the short, superficial shit that's on The Ringer.
This is wrong.
"The TV Shows You Need to Watch Right Now" - The Ringer