Substack has announced “Substack Local," a $1 million program to help “independent writers build local news publications based on the subscription model.”
If you've followed media issues – in relation to local news and to Substack – you're aware of context to this announcement. In this context, I anticipate a wide range of reactions to Substack Local. (My reaction depends on how cynical or optimistic I'm feeling at the moment!)
What’s your opinion about Substack Local?
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"(My reaction depends on how cynical or optimistic I'm feeling at the moment!)"
Yup. On the one hand, one of the many odd-but-true things brought to light by the pandemic is just how necessary local news is: hospital capacity, preventative measures, and vaccine availability are of paramount interest to the communities we actually live in and therefore, having and maintaining, good, boots-on-the-ground resources to provide information, context, and direction is also paramount.
Buuuuut...I don't know that Substack is the right vehicle or model to provide the funding for such necessary infrastructure. Aside from the recently-discussed issues of whether the platform can truly be neutral, they're adding the question of whether they can refrain from interjecting any editorial policies onto the creators. Finally, the missing word in all of this is organization. Local newspapers, even tiny ones, have domain experts, editorial voice, and local responsibility/authority. Individuals have opinions. And we've seen what happens when those opinions don't get fact-checked...