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The New York Times Will Start Charging Readers for Some Newsletters

The New York Times has finally revealed the details of its top secret newsletter project that at one point involved Choire Sicha before he jumped ship for New York Magazine.

The main takeaway is that readers will now have to pay for some of them as a mix of around 15 new and existing news and opinion newsletters will be made available only to Times subscribers. Since they launched around two decades ago, they have been free.

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According to The Times’ own data, nearly 15 million users read a Times newsletter every week, and the portfolio has grown to 50 emails.

Alex Hardiman, chief product officer at The New York Times, said, “Now that The Times has passed 8 million subscriptions, our distinct and diverse newsletter portfolio represents the start of a larger investment in adding even more differential value to our subscriber experience.”

Authors will include Tressie McMillan Cottom, Jay Caspian Kang, Kara Swisher, Peter Coy, Jane Coaston, Tish Harrison Warren and John McWhorter. Among the new offerings, Swisher, who already hosts a podcast for The Times, will open her notebook for readers to follow along as she tracks the changing power dynamics in tech and media.

Kathleen Kingsbury, editor of The Times’ opinion section, added: “We’ve been tirelessly discerning in choosing these new writers to join our existing columnists, who are the leading voices in their coverage areas. Together, this group of talented and thoughtful journalists will offer our subscribers the deep analysis and fresh perspectives only available with The Times. And this is just the start.”

Newsletters including The Morning, DealBook and Breaking News Alerts will continue to remain free.

Like other media organizations, the Times is competing with the likes of Substack, a San Francisco-based newsletter technology platform that continues to add numerous high-profile writers to its roster, including The Verge’s Casey Newton, Vulture’s Hunter Harris, BuzzFeed’s Anne Helen Petersen and Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi.

For journalists, the main attraction is that Substack, which makes money through subscriptions as opposed to ads, allows reporters to generate income directly from their own audiences at a time when advertising is dwindling even further amid the pandemic. The newsletters are owned by the writers and in most cases Substack takes 10 percent of earnings, although some writers have been paid up-front fees.


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