You make many good points.
I have been published in a number of the “quality” publications you mention. Here is my experience.
You send them a poem (poems). If you are lucky, you will get a response in six months (I’ve had them take up to a year). You are rejected, you’ve only wasted six months. If you are accepted, the waiting begins again. It may take another six months before the poem sees print, virtual or paper. When it is finally published, because of the tiny readerships you mention, almost no one sees it. Oh, and almost none of them pay, you’ve done your long dance for free.
That’s why I stopped submitting. It’s a thrill to see your work “in print” the first time, even if you don’t get paid, but quickly, as BB King said: the thrill is gone.
As I’m not going to be paid in any case for poetry, I’d rather publish in Medium publications, where more people see my work and can respond directly.
Jumping through hoops in time to satisfy some editor whose brain has been damaged by his MFA does not seem worth it to me.
Cutting out the middleman is always a good thing.
Excellent article. I hope many folks read it.