Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"Rage drives clicks. Quality drives subscriptions"

An acquaintance once accused me of being a political partisan. I explained that although I usually voted for candidates of one political party it was because my principles were conservative, not because of the party label. Political partisanship is dumb. Choosing to vote for the candidate who is most likely to support (or least likely to oppose) the right policies makes sense. In the Trump era choices have become harder for people like me. I've always been a Reagan/National Review/Wall Street Journal editorial page kind of conservative. I've subscribed to National Review since high school and still appreciate the magazine. More recently I've become rather enthusiastic about The Dispatch, an online publication that is edited by Steve Hayes and publishes a whole lot of writers I respect including David French, Chris Stirewalt, and Jonah Goldberg. I go to their site just about every day and get several of their emailed newsletters. Yesterday another writer I like, Kevin Williamson, became a "national correspondent" there. Williamson explained what attracted him to The Dispatch:
I’ve sat in on a few long Dispatch meetings, and what was not talked about was this or that former or future presidential candidate, how to position ourselves for the midterms or 2024, how to influence this or that aspect or this or that party’s internal factional politics, or anything like that. The Dispatch is here to do journalism—not politics. I have nothing but the most narrowly limited and partial respect for people who do political speechwriting or run campaigns, but that isn’t what we are here to do.

We did talk in those meetings about the tensions inherent in building a reporting-based publication in an opinion-forward environment in a business currently anchored by a few famous opinion writers. The Dispatch is operating on the theory that our readers aren’t stupid. What that means as a practical matter is that we can do good reporting and good opinion journalism at the same time, as long as we do them both intelligently and with a high degree of integrity. Readers know that publications have points of view: There is a reason so many old U.S. newspapers have Republican or Democrat in the name. Having a point of view isn’t the same thing as distorting the facts—or ignoring them or making stuff up!—to support a political agenda.

Rage drives clicks. Quality drives subscriptions. And our business model is based on subscriptions, not clicks.

And that is why I am here. ....
The Dispatch can be found online here. There are always many free articles, but to read everything a subscription is required ($10 a month, or $100 for a year). I subscribe.

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