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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.

Updated 59 mins ago - Health

GOP Rep. Clay Higgins says he has COVID for second time

Rep. Clay Higgins during a 2019 House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) Sunday evening that he and his wife have contracted COVID-19 for a second time and "this episode is far more challenging."

Driving the news: "Becca and I had COVID before, early on, in January 2020, before the world really knew what it was," he wrote in a Facebook post, confirming his son also has the coronavirus — which he described as a "biological attack weaponized virus."

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Team USA softball defeats Japan 2-1 in preview of gold medal match

Japan's Yamato Fujita held Team USA without a hit for the first five innings. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Despite failing to get a hit for the first five innings, the U.S. women's Olympic softball team managed to tie Japan in the sixth inning and win 2-1 in the seventh, thanks to a walk-off home run from Kelsey Stewart.

Why it matters: The same two teams, which were undefeated headed into Monday's game, will meet in the gold medal match scheduled for Tuesday evening Tokyo time.