In the ongoing campaign for our attention, content providers have had to reinvent themselves and how they deliver information to their users. As a result, a new generation of news gathering and delivery tools have emerged. Traditional news sources are less than effective. New distribution tools allow creative and thoughtful people to better share their diverse perspectives. Here is a look at the latest innovations offered by the news and information industry.
Following Great Thinkers via Newsletters
The rise of the Substack newsletter has been a wonderful development for the creator economy. Intelligent, motivated and entrepreneurial writers are now developing six and even seven-figure businesses from the content of their Substack newsletters. Ben Thompson’s Stratechery was the first to crack into this model. His newsletter is a must-read. It costs $12/mo, more than a standard subscription to the NYTimes.
Brian Morrisey, president of Digiday Media, wrote a detailed example of how entrepreneurs can create a million-dollar business from their newsletters through ads and paid subscriptions. Despite struggling newspapers, it turns out that selling ads is still a great business for content creators.
Packy McComick writes the newsletter Not Boring where he provides lengthy analysis and nuanced views on current trends. Another example is Nathan Tankus, profiled in this Bloomberg article: Subscribers to Nathan Tankus’s newsletter, Notes on the Crises, aren’t bothered by his lack of diplomas. Nathan’s gift is researching and writing about global central bank policy. There are very few job openings for someone with that skill set who does not have advanced degrees. Nathan’s newsletter is actively followed by top policy makers and Wall St executives.
Bill Gates has a blog called GatesNotes.com. Ray Dalio writes his own blog on LinkedIn and has published a series of books that are freely available on his website. Famous value investor Howard Marks publishes his memos for free, which he has done for a long time.
There are niche newsletters available for almost every specialty topic today, like this one on the nuances of the semiconductor market. The ability to monetize a newsletter will continue to draw intelligent and creative writers to share their unique expertise with the world. This trend benefits us all and it’s up to us to find these new authors.
Seeking Alpha is an investment blogging platform where investors will post their analysis on various investment topics. However, it’s very important to verify the author before reading a Seeking Alpha post. Short sellers and market manipulators actively flood the internet with fake or misleading investment information and that often ends up on sites like Seeking Alpha. This practice is known as astroturfing and it’s a well documented phenomenon. For this reason, we prefer to follow individuals directly when they are incentivized to produce consistent and thoughtful quality content.
We discovered Axios in 2019. The original goal behind the company was to create a blend between The Economist and Twitter with more bullet points than essays. They seem to have a consistent ability to keep their finger on the pulse. Everyone I’ve shared it with has enjoyed the content as it’s much less reactive than CNN, NYTimes or CNBC. The topics range from @Work, Future, Science, Trends, Media, Space, etc. You can browse their news and sign up for their various daily/weekly subscriptions here: https://www.axios.com/newsletters/
Better AI-Enabled News Is Coming
TikTok is a great example of AI-enabled content distribution. If you haven’t used it yet, I recommend giving it a try. It’s important to note that it is designed to augment your consumption habits, good or bad. If you find yourself spending more time on silly videos, then the algorithm will feed you more silly videos. However, the more time you spend engaging with scientific, political, and innovative content, the more that content will to float to the top. Remember that personalized algorithms create a unique experience for each user. More AI-enabled news and information tools will be coming shortly.
Twitter and Clubhouse
For the longest time people have used Twitter to broadcast their thoughts and opinions to a wide audience. Twitter is an excellent tool to gather news and information. Clubhouse is a new app that functions as a real-time audio-only broadcasting tool. The underlying technology is powered by a company called Agora ($API) which is highly innovative, high growth and developer-friendly. If you’re interested in this company as an investment, please reach out to discuss in further detail.
The real power behind Clubhouse is the opportunity for users to choose the source of their audio commentary. If you’re watching election results or the Oscars, you can now replace the announcers with your own favorite talkers, columnists, entrepreneurs, authors, etc. When this tool matures, it will be great for the consumer and not so great for the big networks.
The Path Forward
The rise of the professional newsletter and emergent news organizations like Axios are invaluable in a world with constant information overload. As far as traditional news organizations, we prefer the Financial Times for their balanced reporting. When all else fails and you’re looking for a voice of reason, it’s helpful to curate and read what thoughtful and consistent individual writers have to say. Let us know what your favorite newsletters are and we’ll be sure to add them to our list.
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