Once upon a time, in a land where algorithms didn’t exist, adverts were adverts and people paid for the writing they enjoyed, I knew where to go to find honest, well-written stories. Magazines, newspapers, newspaper supplements….great, writing, unencumbered by the whims of advertisers and the demands of social media existed everywhere.

But things have changed. I know this because I was a journalist. It’s what I did for twenty-two years. I was also an editor at the exact moment the digital revolution slam dunked into the paper press and writing suddenly got rechristened content.

I was editing a magazine called Women’s Health when this happened. I remember going home one evening and thinking about the fact we were charging £5 for a magazine whilst giving away a bunch of equally good stuff for free on our website.

Of course, if you were a reader it seemed like Christmas, 365 days of the year. All this free content! With no price tag at all! A-MAZING! Except of course, there was a price tag. And that price tag was the reader’s mind and the writer’s back pocket. 

You see digital ‘content’ relied on advertising. And digital advertising relied on ‘eyeballs’ not minds. It is why listicles and hot takes became so popular and why at any one time, the entire world seems to be writing about the Kardashians. It’s also why writing from extreme positioning has become ever more popular - these things get eyeballs (as well as dull brains and ignite emotions) and eyeballs make money in advertising.

Which brings me to why I’m here, and frankly why I quit a 22-year career in journalism to be here. I struggle to find nuance. I find it near impossible to find writing that isn’t in some way carefully disguised sponsored content. I also think the media is becoming ever more narrow - literally and metaphorically. Paper costs are rising, so the magazines and papers we once loved are getting increasingly thinner. That means there’s simply not the room anymore for the interesting stuff.

So here’s what I’m proposing: I will write and commission that stuff here. And nothing, I mean nothing, will be dumbed down. Or obfuscated for the purposes of advertisers. That’s because this Substack is supported by you and only you.  I also want to make this a real community where your voice is as valid and as heard as mine. 

There’s also an entire writing group that comes with this Substack. That’s because I believe pretty much anyone can become a writer with the right guidance, practice and care. I hope you’ll consider joining us. It’s part of the paid side of this Substack, but I’ve tried to keep tings as cheap as I can possibly can. A year’s subscription is £70, which works out at £1.45 a week. For the price of a black coffee you can learn how to become a better writer.

I hope it will be fun, and exciting, and above all that it will contain lots of things worth knowing.

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The secret thoughts, conversations and lives that women keep...by the ex-editor of ELLE and Cosmopolitan. (Plus, access to my invite-only writing group)


Farrah Storr 

I’m Farrah, Head of Writer Partnerships for Substack UK and editor of Substack Reads. In another life I edited Elle & Cosmo. Now my writing lives on my Substack-Things Worth Knowing. Come say hi!