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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.

  • Substack Local will launch with a $1 million initiative to help 30 independent writers build local news publications using Substack's subscription model. The writers will pocket 15% of their subscription revenue in the first year when they accept an advance payment, and 90% in the second year without any payment.
  • Facebook plans to dedicate a large part of its new newsletter publishing platform to supporting independent local journalists covering communities solo, sources tell Axios.
  • 6am city, a local newsletter company that launched in the Southeast region of the U.S., expects to be in at least 15 markets by the end of the year. Sources say the company has more than 750,000 newsletter subscribers in total with annual revenues of roughly $5 million.
  • Patch, the hyperlocal digital news company, last year launched a program called Patch Labs that lets local reporters publish their own newsletters and monetize them.
  • Axios bought the Charlotte Agenda last year as a part of a new local newsletter push. The company publishes local newsletters in five markets, including Tampa Bay, Des Moines, Charlotte, Denver and the Twin Cities. It plans to launch in NW Arkansas in the near future.

What to watch: The paid newsletter trend is a reflection of a bigger industry shift toward direct-to-consumer consumer products, often ones that are paid.

  • Most news publishers have doubled down on subscription revenues as a means of becoming less reliant on ads.
  • Reuters on Thursday announced a $34.99 monthly paywall that offers readers a deeper level of coverage and data on industry-specific news, like legal or autos.

Go deeper

Apr 14, 2021 - Economy & Business

Scoop: Media startup banks on charging for buzzy business news

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Three digital media veterans are launching a new paid subscription media company with a multi-million dollar Series A funding round led by 40 North Media, a related investment business of Standard Industries, and private equity giant TPG Growth, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: The co-founders of the new company are Joe Purzycki, co-founder of the podcast company Luminary, Jon Kelly, a former New York Times editor and founder of Vanity Fair’s "The Hive," and longtime digital media executive and early Athletic employee Max Tcheyan.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations were "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.