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Reserve the word “subscribers” for people who actually pay: The Media Roundup

What's New in Publishing 25 Nov 2021 07:45

Please make it clear to your readers what a “subscriber” is

Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton is railing against publishing’s misue of the term subscriber, and not for the first time. He previously wrote about it in response to the Ozy media debacle. This time it’s Punchbowl that has raised his ire: the newsletter company is claiming 100,000 subscribers, but reporting revenues from just 3,000 paying readers.

Jacob Donnelly picked out this perfect paragraph on Twitter:

“In what world is it useful to lump together ‘people who pay $400 a year’ and ‘email addresses in a Mailchimp list’ … ‘That new French restaurant downtown serves 8,300 people every night! About 40 order the $200 prix fixe tasting menu, while 8,260 enjoy a glimpse of the front door as they stroll past its storefront’.”

Joshua’s advice for both publishers reporting their own numbers or reporters covering their progress: Reserve the word “subscribers” for people who actually pay a media company money.

Why US publishers look enviously across the Atlantic

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Nieman LabJoshua Benton
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