Newsletter publishing platform Substack has introduced publication sections for its newsletters, which will allow writers “to create and manage multiple newsletters or podcasts within a single main publication,” the company announced Thursday.
“As your publication grows, you might start to expand what you offer to readers,” Substack explained in a blog post. “For example, you may want to add a separate section for a podcast series, for regional or topical content, or for posts in other languages.”
Subscribers can opt in or out of receiving emails for each section. “We’re excited to build more tools that give writers the flexibility to grow their media empire and give readers more agency over what they read,” the blog post states.
Substack CEO Hamish McKenzie described to the Financial Times what the new sections might look like: “Maybe you have something on politics for example, and something on sports, and something on religion within the same publication.”
Sections aren’t quite a new concept in publishing; many news sites (including The Verge) are usually divided into sections, like tech, science, entertainment, and so on. And before online news sites had sections, newspapers were divided by topic into sections like sports, business, and local news.
For those who may not have been following the news business as closely as those who are working in it have, online news sites (and the internet in general) are blamed for killing newspapers, and there’s been much handwringing over concerns that email newsletters will kill online news sites. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons newspapers are in decline, but Substack re-creating what is essentially the format of a newspaper is kind of a journalism ouroboros.
And Substack, backed by prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, has been on a tear of late, enticing numerous prominent journalists with generous bonuses and the promise of greater control over what they write and how they connect with audiences. And Andreessen Horowitz led a $65 million funding round for Substack last month, valuing the company at about $650 million.
But newsletters that focus on individual creators like Substack and Revue are just one part of the push to get into people’s inboxes; they’re also a big part of how traditional publishers reach their 21st century audiences. Their long-term impact on the news business is still to be determined.