What reason do you, I or anyone else have to pay to read yet another online periodical … which is what Medium is at the end of the day, functionally speaking — sure, from the business perspective it’s a publishing house, but what you and I would each be paying for would be the equivalent of the handful of magazines that we used to pay to read in hardcopy … so, for us, it’s just another periodical … or ten — when there are myriad others we can read for free thanks to their ad driven revenue stream?
Unfortunately, there is only one way to survive as a purely online business: monopoly — you can’t open ever more branches in ever more locations. So either you are the player in your space — Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al — or you are out of business; the only difference being that the businesses that go bust don’t leave boarded-up storefronts to bring down property values and turn the area into a ghost-town in a self-fullfilling death-spiral prophecy — the embodiment of the aftermath of Douglas Adams’ Shoe Event Horizon.
So, unless you can overcome people’s reluctance to pay per view, the only way to survive long enough to become that player is advertising — because not enough people want to pay enough to support online businesses on a pay per view basis.
Until the World decides upon an alternative to ‘free market’ Capitalism as its organising principle, the web will be ad and/or charity funded.
So, yeah, from the non-charity funded perspective, you are right in your assessment of the problem and solution.
But then we’re back to my original question: why should … why would … any of us pay to read it in an already overcrowded market full of quality, free material?
Of course, there is an alternative: to bite the bullet and deliver ads.
And ad-blocking can be ethical too: https://adnauseam.io/