Medium expands its reading subscription to any author or publisher

Now we can all compete for claps.

Last March, publishing platform Medium introduced its Partner Program, a Netflix-style subscription model that gave members exclusive pieces of writing, access to features before anyone else, an offline reading list and an ad-free experience. The program left beta in August, and it expanded to more media partners like The New York Times, Bloomberg and Rolling Stone last month. Now, though, CEO Ev Williams has announced that Medium will allow any publisher or author to join the partner program, essentially democratizing its paywall and merit-based rewards system.

With the motto, "Words Matter," publishing platform Medium has positioned itself as a place where thoughtful content trumps merely attention-getting content. It had to find a way to pay contributors, however, and monetize its own business. Williams says that his company wants to subvert the typical "Attention = Money" paradigm of most online sites and create a system that rewards "conscious choice" rather than reactive rubbernecking.

"By eschewing ads," he wrote, referring to the ad-free subscription service, "we remove conflicts between serving our readers and serving those paying the bills." It's a pretty big idea, and whether it's a naive take on internet publishing or self-centered virtue signaling, opening up to anyone who wants to publish on the service and get paid for it (if they can manage to get the right number of "claps") could be the start of a new way to fund thoughtful, interesting content.