Medium: When Posting Replaces Pitching


Famed American playwright Arthur Miller once mused: “a good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” Ours is a nation talking to itself, but increasingly without newspapers.

From ink-and-print to 1s-and-0s, the newspaper industry has seen much of its business, and many of its readers, disappear – and head online. Traditional publications have created digital presences to slow the erosion of readership, but they’re competing with more than just other papers. They’re competing with varied online platforms where authors and audiences can directly connect.

POLITICO recently reported on Medium, one such platform that hopes to take a piece of the newspaper businesses, the op-ed, for itself.

The op-ed is an opinion piece that runs in a newspaper “opposite the editorials.”  Authored by leading voices for a region, industry, or on a specific topic, the op-ed can also be a major part of an effective communications plan. But rather than the traditional pitching and placing, Medium wants these voices to be posting – on Medium.

In fact, Medium “wants to be the default place for people to go when they have ideas of consequence, for storytelling, for conversations that matter.” What Twitter did for breaking news, Medium wants to do for op-eds.

Medium doesn’t carry the cachet – or the readership – of the Washington Post or the New York Times. But instead, “you get many of the benefits of placing an op-ed without any of the hassles.”

Benefits like controlling how and when your story’s told. On Medium, you pick the word count; you pick the title; you pick the posting time. And maybe most importantly: you don’t have to pick up the phone to pitch the editor to place the piece. Additionally, Medium’s neutrality gives reporters the freedom to cover posts as news without worrying about promoting a rival paper or a partisan outlet. (Though in some ways, Medium is already competing with the mainstream press.) Finally, promotion and distribution are built in. Your Twitter followers automatically receive your Medium posts.

There are persuasive reasons to post on Medium. But does anyone?

Oh yes. USA Today reported “the site is used by up to 17 million people a month.” POLITICO even listed a few familiar names. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline on Medium. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner expressed eager anticipation for the Pope’s visit on Medium. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney declined to run for president in 2016 on Medium. And before he delivered his final State of the Union address, President Obama published his remarks on, you guessed it, Medium.

The New Republic even took to Medium to share news that it’s up for sale. If you can’t beat ‘em…

With established brands and existing readers, the mainstream press has a head start. So traditional op-eds aren’t going anywhere – for now. But many of our national conversations are no longer happening in print. They’re happening online. So a company that forgoes digital outlets like Medium, even while publishing pieces in “good newspapers,” may soon be talking to itself.

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