The business model for niche business journalism
Benner writes, “Jim Grant, the founder of Wall Street newsletter Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, and Fred Hickey, the founder of tech investing newsletter High-Tech Strategist, say subscription was really the only business model when they started their publications decades ago. There was no Internet advertising, or even an Internet as we know it today.
“Both men tell me that not having advertisers gives them the freedom to publish independent viewpoints on stocks, the markets and corporations. They’re both contrarian thinkers who are quick to cry bubble. Calling a market top is not the kind of thinking that endears one to big financial advertisers like Schwab and Fidelity.
“Grant’s subscriber base is relatively small, though his readers have outsized importance in their industry. A subscription starts at $1,175 a year for 24 issues and his subscribers include hedge-fund managers, Wall Street executives and other finance mavens. His twice-annual conferences are graced by the likes of Vanguard founder John Bogle, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman and the well-regarded short seller David Einhorn.
“Grant, a former Barron’s writer, says he once dreamed of reaching a broader audience, but couldn’t make it work. ‘We strove for the mass market but settled for an elite one,’ he says. ‘It’s a great way to get to practice the craft, or the racket, of journalism.'”
Read more here.