The Rise of Independent Journalism and the Intimacy of Twitter: Exploring the Power of Connection


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Sep 09, 2023

4 min read


The Rise of Independent Journalism and the Intimacy of Twitter: Exploring the Power of Connection


In recent years, we have witnessed a significant shift in the world of journalism, with more journalists embracing independent platforms and newsletters. This trend has been particularly noticeable among white men covering topics like technology, business, or politics, where they can combine analysis with original reporting. While this independent model may not be suitable for beat coverage or investigative reporting, it has empowered many journalists and non-journalists to pursue stories outside the confines of traditional newsrooms. One platform that has played a crucial role in this shift is Substack, which provides writers with institutional support and allows them to maintain ownership of their subscriber lists and payment accounts. However, as the newsletter phenomenon continues to grow, the industry must address the potential issues of newsletter overload and fatigue.

The Power of Independent Journalism:

The rise of independent journalism has offered writers the freedom to explore stories they couldn't tackle in traditional newsrooms. By launching their own newsletters, journalists have found a way to blend punditry, analysis, and original reporting, catering to niche audiences interested in specific topics. However, building an audience remains one of the biggest challenges for these independent writers. Judd Legum, a prominent journalist, acknowledges that gaining the first thousand subscribers can be tricky, but starting from scratch is possible. Platforms like Substack have recognized this challenge and have piloted programs to provide writers with more support, including advance payments.

The Role of Substack:

Substack has emerged as a leading platform for independent journalists, offering them the tools and resources needed to build a successful newsletter. Unlike traditional newsrooms, Substack allows writers to retain ownership of their subscriber lists and payment accounts, creating a direct business relationship with their readers. This not only gives writers more control over their content but also enables them to easily transition to other platforms if they desire. However, the risk for platforms like Substack lies in retaining their top talent and preventing them from moving to competing platforms.

Navigating the Intimacy and Vulnerability of Twitter:

While independent journalism offers a sense of freedom, Twitter provides a unique space for intimate connections and shared experiences. Twitter's design encourages vulnerability and rewards high-context speech that requires shared background knowledge to fully appreciate. The platform's short format allows users to craft tweets that tap into pre-existing strings, drawing on shared history or personal experiences. The reward comes in the form of likes and the sudden, sharp, intimate connection with others. However, the retweet feature, which was intended to amplify content, can also lead to the destruction of context. When a tweet is retweeted without the necessary background knowledge, it can be radically misunderstood, causing alienation and misinterpretation.


As the world of journalism evolves, independent writers are finding new avenues to share their stories and connect with audiences. Platforms like Substack provide the infrastructure and support necessary for these writers to flourish. However, the industry must be mindful of the potential challenges of newsletter overload and fatigue. Meanwhile, Twitter continues to offer a unique space for intimate connections, but users must navigate the vulnerability that comes with sharing content that can be easily decontextualized. The power of connection, whether through independent journalism or Twitter, remains a driving force in the evolving landscape of media.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. For aspiring independent journalists, consider starting with a niche topic that you are passionate about and for which there is a demand. Building an audience may take time, but with perseverance and quality content, success is possible.
  • 2. When using Twitter, be mindful of the context in which you share content. While the platform rewards high-context speech, it also carries the risk of decontextualization. Craft your tweets with care, understanding that they may reach a wider audience with varying levels of shared background knowledge.
  • 3. Embrace the power of connection in both independent journalism and social media. Engage with your audience, foster meaningful relationships, and be open to feedback. Building a loyal readership or following is not just about delivering content but also about creating a sense of community.

In the ever-changing landscape of media and journalism, the power of independent voices and the intimacy of social media platforms are reshaping the way we consume news and connect with others. By embracing these shifts and navigating the challenges that come with them, journalists and readers alike can forge new paths for storytelling and engagement.

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