The New York Times is readying a big newsletter push as Substack tries to poach its top writers


Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, Assistant Managing Editor Sam Dolnick, and Executive Editor Dean Baquet.

The New York Times is readying a newsletter push as Substack comes after top journalists. Substack offered Opinion writer Liz Bruenig a $200,000 advance, double her Times salary. The Times told staffers in a Friday memo that outside paid newsletters aren’t likely to be approved. See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When tech writer Charlie Warzel told the New York Times Opinion section that he was leaving to start a newsletter on Substack, he and his editors discussed how he could remain in an outside contributor role.

A few days later, the Times came back to Warzel. That wouldn’t work, he was told, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.

For Times staffers, the episode has underscored how the paper sees Substack: as a rival. As writers across the industry think about striking out on their own, the paper is looking to offer more personality-driven newsletters written by current Times staffers or by outside hires, according to insiders at the paper.

Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor overseeing various digital projects and a member of the Sulzberger family that controls the paper, is leading the effort along with Adam Pasick, the editorial director of newsletters.

Choire Sicha, who recently left his role leading the Styles section, will help with the project “for at least the summer,” he wrote in an email to Styles staffers obtained by Insider.

With the effort underway, the Times told news and opinion staffers on Friday that managers have been fielding a number of requests from employees wishing to launch their own newsletters on platforms like Substack and Twitter’s Revue, according to a memo obtained by Insider.

“Because these sites are increasingly acting as direct competitors to the Times, such efforts will generally not be approved,” the memo said. “Times colleagues who are interested in starting a newsletter should first explore doing it on our own platform, to avoid