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Key links:
Primary website:
https://medium.com
Primary Twitter:
@Medium

Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

Medium is a public blogging platform designed by Twitter founder Evan Williams and Obvious to encourage reader-writer collaboration. Medium users can write, comment, and contribute to posts, organize collections of content, or simply read what others have posted. The site is designed to be complementary to Twitter, and only those with a Twitter account can join.

The beta version of Medium debuted in August 2012, and its most striking feature is its simplicity. It purposely elides plug-ins and sidebars, and as Williams’ introductory note states, “there is nothing to set up or customize.” With ample white space, a curated home page of the best — not the most recent — content, and a built-in pre-publish collaboration tool, the goal of Medium is to reinvent how prose is composed and experienced online. Observers have questioned the purpose of Medium, debating whether it’s intended to be similar to a curated magazine, a more open blogging platform or something in between. Williams has described Medium as both a platform for individuals to publish and a publisher itself.

The Medium team is composed of alumni from past Obvious ventures, including Twitter, Odeo, and Blogger. It has mostly been self-funded, but raised its first outside capital – $25 million – in 2014. On occasion, its editorial team commissions posts and pays authors for contributing, and they also accept pitches from experienced journalists for investigative pieces. It has been criticized by some writers for its pay-per-click policy. In 2013, Medium opened access to everyone.

Medium bought the science journalism startup Matter in 2013 and relaunched it in 2014 as an online magazine. It hired tech writer Steven Levy from Wired in 2014. It also planned to launch a music magazine later that year.

Obvious has also partnered with Branch, a content-sharing venture designed by Josh Miller, Cemre Güngöre, and Hursh Agrawal that came out of beta in August 2012. Originally called Roundtable, Branch aims to incubate “high quality public discourse” by allowing users to “host” discussions that they can invite their friends to join. Branch is also behind Potluck, a link-sharing platform. Both were bought by Facebook in 2014.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Twitter, Wordpress, Tumblr, Instapaper, Quora
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
March 22, 2017 / Laura Hazard Owen
“Media is broken,” so Medium’s launching a $5/month member program that offers small upgrades — In an attempt to find a new business model for publishing after its previous one failed to make money, Medium is rolling out a membership program that will cost $5 a month (for now) and sounds like a little bit Spotify, ...
Jan. 24, 2017 / Laura Hazard Owen
The Internet sets writers free…to get new audiences, and also to “dive into a giant flaming garbage pile” — “So here’s the thing about the Internet setting you free, right? The Internet can set you free, but it can also set free those who may want to exploit you for your work.” Manjula Martin has been thinkin...
Jan. 5, 2017 / Laura Hazard Owen
Medium lays off dozens as it tries to find a publishing business model that may not actually exist yet — Last March, Ev Williams described his publishing platform, Medium, as a superior alternative to the rest of the web. “It’s a simplistic view to say go where the people are,” Williams said. “You need t...
July 21, 2016 / Ricardo Bilton
The Washington Post is adapting some of its stories for Medium (but leaving the straight news behind) — Here’s a simple tip for publishers looking looking to attract readers on Medium: Start with what already works on the platform (first-person stories), and avoid what doesn’t (straight news). Obvious advice, p...
July 5, 2016 / Laura Hazard Owen
A Boston journalism nonprofit is among the first publishers to sell subscriptions on Medium — Most of the publishers using Medium would describe themselves as small, or small-ish. But sites like The Ringer and The Awl are huge compared to the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, which also began monetizing ...

Recently around the web, from Mediagazer:

Primary author: Linda Kinstler. Main text last updated: August 21, 2014.
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The Seattle PostGlobe was a nonprofit online news organization that focused on journalism about social justice. The PostGlobe was founded in 2009 by former Seattle Post-Intelligencer journalists after the newspaper went online-only in March 2009. It announced its closing in July 2011. The site’s staff worked primarily as volunteers, though the site was funded largely by…

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