acebook is building its own newsletter tools, according to The New York Times. The social network is reportedly working on the initiative to offer more services to independent writers and journalists as part of the Facebook Journalism Project. It’s still in its very early stages, but NYT’s sources said the tools could have features similar to what other newsletter services have. That means they could include features writers could use to curate emails, to manage paid subscriptions and to help them grow their followers on Facebook.
The news comes as interest in newsletters is booming. Newsletter service Substack boasted over 250,000 paying subscribers across its service as of September last year, and just this week Twitter acquired newsletter rival Revue. A number of high-profile journalists have left traditional publications to start up independent newsletters, lured by the promise of complete editorial control over their work and the ability to profit more directly from the subscription revenue it brings in.
Facebook has been attempting to better highlight news sources on its platform. Its News Tab is a section of the service featuring content from partnering media organizations, some of which are paid for the inclusion of their articles. While the News Tab has seen Facebook improve its relationship with traditional publishers, the newsletter tools are thought to be an attempt to court individual writers.
The New York Times’s report says Mark Zuckerberg noticed the growing trend of journalists going solo and monetizing their work through newsletters, prompting him to urge the team to make the project a priority. That said, the tools don’t have a release date yet, though execs are apparently hoping to have them out this summer. Campbell Brown, vice president for global news partnerships at Facebook, told the publication:
“We want to do more to support the independent journalists and experts who are building businesses and audiences online. We’re exploring ways to help them benefit from the news products we’ve built, like Facebook News and subscriptions, while also building new tools to complement what journalists already find useful.”