Substack Offered NYT Reporter Taylor Lorenz $300,000: Report

 

Newsletter platform Substack has offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to big-name New York Times writers, including Taylor Lorenz and Elizabeth Bruenig, but the Times is fighting back with a plan to increase its offerings of “personality-driven newsletters written by current Times staffers or by outside hires,” Business Insider reports.

Substack offered Bruenig, a Times opinion writer, a $200,000 advance, and Lorenz, a reporter covering tech, a $300,000 advance, according to reporter Steven Perlberg.

Times media columnist Ben Smith previously revealed that Substack reached out to him, and that he declined an offer of an advance “well above” his Times salary, “in part because of the editing and the platform The Times gives me, and in part because I didn’t think I’d make it back — media types often overvalue media writers.”

In response to Substack’s efforts, Perlberg reported, the Times is preparing to up its newsletter game.

“For Times staffers, the episode has underscored how the paper sees Substack: as a rival,” Perlberg wrote. “As writers across the industry think about striking out on their own, the paper is looking to offer more personality-driven newsletters written by current Times staffers or by outside hires, according to insiders at the paper.”

A Times assistant managing editor, Sam Dolnick, is leading the newsletter expansion effort, along with Adam Pasick, the editorial director of newsletters, with help from former Styles section editor Choire Sicha.

The Times is also reportedly encouraging its own writers to launch newsletters, and “insiders are also speculating that the Times will look to big-name hires, perhaps even from the pool of writers on Substack,” Perlberg wrote.

Times managers have been fielding requests from employees looking to launch their own newsletters on Substack and other platforms, such as Twitter’s Revue, Perlberg reported. Management told the newsroom that such requests “will generally not be approved,” according to the report, and encouraged staffers to look to first publish a newsletter through the Times.

Substack, which recently announced a haul of $65 million in its latest round of fundraising, maintains a “hands-off” approach to content moderation, and has attracted some accomplished, well-known writers, many of whom complained about a lack of editorial freedom at their prior media homes.

The Times isn’t the only traditional media outlet looking to compete with Substack and other newsletter platforms. In January, Forbes announced its own paid newsletter platform, aimed at attracting writers who already have a sizeable following.

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