Substack’s promise to be different than a newsroom is getting messy

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By most measures, Forever Wars should have been a Substack success story. The newsletter, which documents the war on terror, began last year after Substack cut a deal with a seasoned reporter to write on the platform, build an audience, and — if everything went well — launch a reader-supported venture that made the switch from newsroom to newsletter worth the gamble. Substack’s usual promise applied: if a writer wants to leave, they can, and it will be easy to do. And, in late July, a day after the expiration of a year-long deal, that’s what Spencer Ackerman did, moving Forever Wars to the newsletter platform Ghost as seamlessly as possible.

But the switch became far messier this week when Substack barreled through its standing promise…

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