I agree, running a publication is a lot of work for no direct financial reward. Although there is the benefit of community. If a publication is run well, the administrator will get to know a lot great writers. And writers will get to know each other through the publication. It’s also likely writers of the publication will follow the admin. And if the publication is successful it will create a large built-in audience for your writing.
I personally like the idea of writers getting paid for stories in publications. And I also like the idea of Publications getting a cut of the Partner Program stories published on their publication. It seems reasonable and fair. And far less work for the publication admins than having publications pay their writers.
Perhaps this just step 1. I imagine splitting payments would require a system upgrade.
You never know what Medium will do next. That’s the trade off for tapping into their publishing empire. They make the rules. All we can do is let our opinions be known and hope for the best.
I will adhere to whatever the publications I submit to decide to do. If they want to stay MPP free I will respect that and submit unlocked stories.