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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Medium's abrupt change of course announced Tuesday came as a surprise to editorial employees; many of whom now need to decide in upcoming days whether to take a buyout offer or a different job at the company.

Why it matters: This isn't the first time Medium has abruptly cut in-house editorial operations after heavily investing in and hiring journalists and editors, though it's given a different reason each time.

  • "Everyone at the meeting was surprised," said a Medium source in a Tuesday meeting with CEO Ev Williams and editorial employees.
  • Some senior staff were briefed before the announcement, another source told Axios.

By the numbers: The company currently has around 725,000 paid subscribers. According to one source, the company had roughly 400,000 in 2019.

  • Digiday reported in 2019 that Medium was hoping to attract at least a million subscribers by 2020.
  • Williams on Tuesday announced buyouts for all editorial staff and suggested the future of the company's editorial ambitions be built around individual voices rather than editorial franchises.

The big picture Medium has spent the last two years investing heavily in bringing on highly-experienced editors and writers to launch high-end digital publications.

  • In a blog post, Williams said that "in aggregate" the publication did not produce enough blockbuster stories to make the economics work.
  • "We have published many stellar stories that found a wide audience and more than paid for themselves. But our hit rate has been low, and we’re not near where we need to be to make it work economically," he wrote.
  • One of the problems with the current model was that Medium struggled to attract wider audiences for stories that they could then use to funnel into subscriptions, a source said.
  • The changes come less than a month after a failed unionization effort by the editorial employees.

What's next: Editorial staffers have to decide in upcoming days whether to take the buyout, which includes five months severance and six months of paid healthcare.

  • Buyout decisions are somewhat tricky because sources say there's no clear understanding of what's next for Medium's editorial ambitions, other than focusing more on "individuals."

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi appoints GOP Rep. Kinzinger to Jan. 6 committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Sunday that she has appointed Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to serve on the House select committee investigating the Jan 6. Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Pelosi's announcement comes after she rejected two of the five Republican appointments offered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

USCP chief: Officers testifying before Jan. 6 committee "need to be heard"

Thomas Manger, the new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

New Capitol Police chief Tom Manger said officers testifying before the Jan. 6 select committee this week "need to be heard."

Driving the news: The select committee's first hearing is set to take place on Tuesday and will feature testimony from law enforcement officers who were subject to some of the worst of violence during the insurrection.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

America's "Friendscape" crisis

New research shows Americans have fewer friends than in the past, and are less likely to have a best friend.

  • Why it matters: At a time of excruciating mental and societal stress, this is another sign we're breaking apart. And the friendship drought could get worse with more people working remotely or hybrid-ly.