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About

Substack is a blogging platform and email newsletter service which allows writers to publish work and cultivate an audience. It provides a payment system, platform, and analytics to writers. It is home to a variety of influential newsletters and writers.

History

Substack was founded in 2017 by Chris Best and Hamish McKenzie. The platform sought to offer writers all of the tools necessary to market, produce and make money on their content independently of a larger publication.[1] As of November 2021, Substack had over a million paid subscriptions for newsletters hosted on the site.[2]

Originally text-based, Substack made moves in 2019 to introduce podcasts and discussion threads into its mix of content, offering the technical support content creators need to start their own products.[3] In 2022, Substack started making forays into video.[4]

The platform has disrupted the journalism industry, and received considerable attention from reporters and writers considering the future of their careers. According to a New York Times piece from November, 2021, Substack had β€œcaptivated an anxious industry because it embodies larger forces and contradictions.”[5]

Features

The main interface of Substack is a WordPress-eseque blogging platform, on which readers can choose to follow free blogs and subscribe to paid blogs. Many blogs feature some content that is free and other pieces of content that are locked and must be paid for.

A variety of writers and public figures are on Substack. Some of the most prominent include Glenn Greenwald[6], Matthew Iglesias[7] and Heather Cox Richardson.[8]

The platform has been criticized for taking a hard stance on free speech, and benefiting from the business and attention brought by writers forced to leave other platforms due to stricter content moderation. Grace Lavery, one of the writers profiled in the November 2021 New York Times piece that brought considerable attention to the platform, left it in 2022 because the platform did not do enough to counter misinformation.[9]

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