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Numerous journalists, from sports writers to tech reporters, have recently launched their own, independent publications, mostly via email newsletters.

Why it matters: The rise of independent journalism has breathed new life into niche content, with tools like Substack helping subject matter experts carve out their own corner of the internet.

The state of play: Newsletters occupy critical inbox real estate, but while some are general and others broadly cover an industry, others dive deeper still, writing for a small but dedicated audience.

Take Matt Brown's Extra Points newsletter, which focuses on the business of college sports. While ESPN covers the action on the field for millions of fans, Brown covers things like athletic department budgets for a few thousand.

  • "I'm interested in UConn's schedule. I'm interested in the finances at South Dakota. And there are people who care about that, but not 200,000 people," says Brown, who used to oversee SB Nation's college team sites.
  • "The beauty of Substack is you don't need 200,000 people to be interested in what you're doing — you need 3,000 who will pay for it."

Between the lines: When the pandemic shut down college sports this spring and led to the cutting of hundreds of programs, there was increased interest in the topics Brown covers, like how college sports are funded.

  • Meanwhile, layoffs at Gannett — whose newspapers would have been covering their local universities — created a void that Brown helped fill.
  • "Most college football fans just want to look at rankings and watch games," says Brown. "As soon as that came under threat, they shifted their attention to, 'Who is deciding when and how this all comes back?'"

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Technology

Twitter acquiring newsletter publishing company Revue

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twitter on Tuesday said it has acquired Revue, a newsletter platform for writers and publishers.

Why it matters: The deal marks Twitter's first step into building out long-form content experiences on Twitter, and its first foray into subscription revenue.

Scoop: Ex-CNN executive starts media venture for communities of color

S. Mitra Kalita (L) and Sara Lomax-Reese. Photo: Courtesy of S. Mitra Kalita

Former CNN executive S. Mitra Kalita and Philadelphia radio executive Sara Lomax-Reese have launched a newsletter seeking to expand local news on Black and brown communities to national audiences.

Why it matters: Some ethnic newspapers and local news sites focusing on people of color have suffered in recent years. The URL Media newsletter wants to bring their unique content together to attract big advertisers and facilitate underreported news.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.