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Facebook winds down its newsletter service

Facebook, which is now part of the parent company Meta, has contacted writers within the program to tell them that the Bulletin platform will be wound down early next year.

Gladwell, pictured here, was one of the writers for Bulletin, which will close next year.Writer Malcolm Gladwell at his office in Hudson, New York, on June 24, 2021. Facebook is shuttering its Bulletin subscription service, ending its attempt to compete with Substack and other newsletter services; Gladwell was one of the writers for Bulletin, which will close next year. (Landon Speers/The New York Times)

Written by Katie Robertson

Facebook is shuttering its Bulletin subscription service, ending its attempt to compete with Substack and other newsletter services.

Facebook, which is now part of the parent company Meta, has contacted writers within the program to tell them that the Bulletin platform will be wound down early next year.

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“Bulletin has allowed us to learn about the relationship between creators and their audiences and how to better support them in building their community on Facebook,” the company confirmed in a statement Tuesday. “While this off-platform product itself is ending, we remain committed to supporting these and other creators’ success and growth on our platform.”

The program began in June last year, aiming to attract independent writers when more were looking to leave publications and have a direct relationship with their readers and take home all of their own revenue. It was looking to mimic the success that Substack, another newsletter platform, had with enticing writers to build their own newsletter brands.

A note at the time from executives said Bulletin would support writers with a suite of publishing and subscription tools, as well as services like legal resources and design.

“Our unique ability to help talented people find and connect with the audiences and markets they need to flourish gives independent journalism a greater opportunity to thrive,” wrote Campbell Brown, vice president of news partnerships, and Anthea Watson Strong, product manager for news.

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Bulletin began with a group of established writers and high-profile names, including Malcolm Gladwell, James Hamblin and Erin Andrews, as well as up-and-coming writers. It also offered support to local news writers through a $5 million commitment.

Some of the deals were in the six figures. The contracts, some of which were for two years and go into 2024, will be paid in full, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. The writers are able to take their content and subscriber lists with them.

Meta had previously specified that it would not take a cut of subscription revenue “until at least 2023.”

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There were signs in July that the program would not last much longer. Facebook executives told employees that month that the company was shifting resources away from its news offering and Bulletin and toward projects that focused on the creator economy, as first reported in The Wall Street Journal.

Other newsletter projects have also suffered in recent months. Substack laid off 14% of its staff in June. It had discussed raising more funding last year, but shelved the plan.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

First published on: 05-10-2022 at 11:05:02 am
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