The in-brief news publisher Axios has been talking about launching a paid tier for a couple of years now. In November 2016, CEO Jim VanderHei told a conference such a tier could cost $10,000.
Fast-forward to 2019, and VanderHei says a subscription scheme is still being tested, and could be coming soon.
“We’re beta testing a high end subscription product that we hope to roll out either late this year or early next year,” says VandeHei in this video interview with Beet.TV.
For Axios, a subscription scheme would help diversify the revenue stream, which is led by advertising, supported by sponsored events.
“It’s all right now from advertising and we call it ‘short form native’ – basically, all of our ads fit on one screen,” VandeHei adds. “We work with corporations to tell people really efficiently ‘what do they do that’s important?’ and ‘what do they do that’s big for the economy, big for technology?'”
Axios’ secret sauce is in publishing brief summary articles, laden with bullet points, bold keywords and succinct writing – hallmarks of writing for the web for two decades, but which many writers still don’t adhere to.
But Axios is about more than presentation. Many of its staff now have access and topic mastery which makes them a compelling read.
But VanderHei worries that, in the age of “fake news” and partisanship, every news story may be contestable.
“At the end of the day, we have to figure out a way to get people to understand that sometimes a fact’s a fact, a situation’s a situation,” he says. “If we can’t even look at things that are really not debatable and not debate those, then it’s problematic I think for capitalism, problematic for democracy and certainly problematic for media.”