Independent New Zealand newsmedia publisher Stuff is joining email newsletter platform Substack in an experimental project to boost local news coverage.
Some of a US1 million (A$1.29 million) fund to accelerate the launch and success of local news publications on the platform will back two Stuff newsletters.
Stuff editorial director Mark Stevens says the programme will augments deep reporting of local issues on the Kiwi website and through its newspapers, until last year part of Fairfax Media.
The Substack Local programme awards US$1 million funding for local news writers around the world, with Stuff receiving a share to launch two newsletters.
“We see this as a great opportunity to learn about the rising popularity of paid newsletters, the type of newsletter content people in New Zealand are willing to pay for, and new revenue models that we might be able to tap into in the future,” says Stevens.
He said it was clear Stuff and Substack have a common interest in helping local journalism flourish. “We look forward to sharing more details of the experiment as they are confirmed.”
Substack says a panel of independent judges will help select up to 30 local news writers to participate, with each writer provided with mentorship from experienced journalists, business support – “such as subsidised access to health insurance, expert advice, and design services” – and a cash advance designed to reduce start-up risk.
Optimism about the potential of the Substack model for local news has been encouraged by the success of emerging publications such The Mill (Manchester, UK), The Rover (Montreal), the Charlotte Ledger, and City Hall Watcher (Toronto). “We’re excited to accelerate this progress by supporting a new era for local news publishing,” it says.