The (Paltry) Wages of Wokeness
I've been amused to see the ongoing dustup over Substack. As our new woke overlords manage to drive out anybody who has ever expressed an unorthodox thought from the mainstream media, a funny thing has happened. All of the legacy media outlets have become boring echo chambers of woke scolds. No surprise, this has led quite a few people to look for other opinions. And it seems that a good number of the unorthodox thinkers have ended up at Substack, where they appear to be making quite good coin. Matt Yglesias, who had the temerity to sign a letter opposing cancel culture, and was pushed out of Vox for that sin, was offered a quarter of a million to write for Substack, and stands to make quite a bit more.
Apparently the deal is that you can set a certain monthly subscriber fee--typically between $5 and $10. Substack has offered writers either a straight commission (90% of their subscriber fees) or a fixed amount plus a lower commission. As it happens Yglesias would have made quite a bit more--well over $500,000--had he taken the straight commission.
Well, you can imagine the reaction from the woke mob. Here they had routed the evil man from their midst and he landed a job where he's presumably making quite a bit more than he was toiling for Vox. And he's not alone. Many writers who ran afoul of one PC rule or the other have gone over there. Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, John McWhorter and Jessie Singal among many others have set up their own newsletters. And Substack is, to be honest, about the only website worth reading these days because of those people.
Of course, the folks who managed to shut down Parler have turned their ire on Substack. Some have called for the site itself to be deplatformed. Others have tried the concern troll tactic: Did Substack really want to be associated with this bad person?
Now you might be wondering why the wokerati are not flocking to Substack themselves--here's a site where you can get paid directly by the people who like to read your work, cutting out the middleman (the publisher) and getting rich in the process. Ah, but there's the rub; it turns out that quite a few social justice warriors have tried it and have not been quite as successful as the iconoclasts listed above. You can see the problem; who's going to pay to read the same stuff they can read in every newspaper and magazine online already? Especially when that stuff comes from people who sneer at you and your opinions.
And meanwhile the layoffs continue, although now they're not just hitting the legacy media outlets, but the "new media" sites like the Huffington Post.
Update: And as if on cue, Medium announces that it will be switching to a Substack-style model. Note the important hall monitoring, err, journalism that we'll be missing out on:
Those publications have published high-impact work over the years: An investigation by tech publication OneZero into a surveillance tech executive’s attendance at KKK meetings led to his firing, for example.