Dan Gilmor: Andrew Sullivan Relaunches ‘Daily Dish’ Under Subscription Model

Dan Gilmor: Andrew Sullivan Relaunches ‘Daily Dish’ Under Subscription Model

The popular blogger's has made the decision to quit the Daily Beast and make the Dish part free, part subscriber-paid.

Dan Gilmor, The Guardian
  • 3 january 2013

Powered by
This article titled “Andrew Sullivan plans to serve Daily Dish by subscription” was written by Dan Gillmor, for on Thursday 3rd January 2013 12.30 UTC

Andrew Sullivan, one of the earliest political bloggers and always one of the best, says he’s betting on his readers in moving his prominent Daily Dish blog to a “freemium” system (much free, some paid). Actually, he’s betting on himself.

To be still more accurate, he’s betting on himself and two colleagues – Patrick Appel and Chris Bodenner, who are departing the Daily Beast, the blog’s current home – to do more than create a sustainable business for themselves. If they can pull it off, they’ll help demonstrate that the broader journalistic ecosystem is evolving in sustainable ways.

Sullivan’s announcement Wednesday was a semi-shocker. Though he’d started out more than a decade ago as a solo blogger, he’d gone on to a series of partnerships with major media organizations, including Time, the Atlantic and, most recently, the Daily Beast (which acquired Newsweek and then, at the end of 2012, shuttered it). Sullivan explained that now was the time to return to independence.

The payment system is a lot like the one at the New York Times, which is really more of a suggestion wall. As Sullivan explained:

“Our particular version will be a meter that will be counted every time you hit a ‘Read on’ button to expand or contract a lengthy post. You’ll have a limited number of free read-ons a month, before we hit you up for $19.99. Everything else on the Dish will remain free. No link from another blog to us will ever be counted for the meter – so no blogger or writer need ever worry that a link to us will push their readers into a paywall. It won’t. Ever. There is no paywall. Just a freemium-based meter. We’ve tried to maximize what’s freely available, while monetizing those parts of the Dish where true Dishheads reside. The only tough love we’re offering is the answer to the View From Your Window Contest. You’ll have to become a member to find where the place is. Ha!”

The Times model, in turn, has a lot in common with National Public Radio, which thrives on two main revenue sources: big donations from corporate or philanthropic funders, and small donations from listeners. The Times, a for-profit operation, gets money from advertisers instead of large donors, but its paywall – which is: read this many stories free, then buy a subscription – is deliberately porous and simple to circumvent.

In a key decision, the new Dish says it won’t accept ads. The downside is obvious, namely leaving essential-to-survive money on the table. The potential rewards are real, however: a deeper bond with an audience that is already among the most devoted around – in part because readers have a sense that Sullivan is willing to go where the facts, as opposed to the dollars, lead him.

I would assume that Sullivan and his colleagues are looking, meanwhile, at other revenue sources. In this new ecosystem, we all have to look at and try just about everything on the business side of our journalism world, not just the content side.

Indeed, the new Dish’s business experiment includes a partner called Tinypass, a software startup that’s creating a payment platform for independent content creators. It promises both to make it easy, and not annoying, for audiences to offer their financial support, and to take a smaller cut of the proceeds than the competition. While I like the idea of Tinypass, I have no idea if it can get traction, much less scale up to support many, larger media businesses. Again, though, it’s part of an emergent media ecosystem that is growing more diverse and interesting by the day.

Sullivan is far from the first to move to a paid model, of course. Other bloggers have moved toward payments in a variety of ways, using a variety of platforms and methods. There are promising signs that it can work.

A key question is just how many individual sites people will pay for. Sullivan’s $20 a year rate is cheap for one, but non-trivial once you start subscribing to lots of people. One thing I’d bet on is alliances among bloggers where we can pay a lot less for a grab-bag of sites, on the theory that many more people will be willing to join that way, creating win-win-win situations. Again – and I can’t use this word enough – the more experimenting and innovation the better.

I’ve followed Sullivan’s blogging from the beginning, initially because he was a member of a then-small tribe of people (I counted myself among them) who were using the web to create what we considered an evolved media form. In particular, it was immediate and conversational, with the benefits and risks that such a thing entailed.

I’ve often disagreed with Sullivan’s politics, but I always respected his passion, astounding energy and willingness to engage. I’m subscribing today. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.


Digital Design Expert: Mobile First Is Dead, Think Mobile Native

Culture Today

Someone Invented A Robot Just To Serve Trays Of Beef Jerky

Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, in partnership with Chef's Cut Real Jerky, creates an automated snack delivery system

Millennials Today

Why A Social Networking Site Decided To Rebrand

Meetup, a platform that connects like-minded individuals, has taken steps to stay relevant amongst millennials


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The People-First Workplace Should Borrow From Tradition

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX underline the old-fashioned ideas that deserve a place in the Future of Work

Fashion Today

Handbags Crafted From An Old NFL Stadium

People for Urban Progress is an up-cycling program that tackles the waste problem of big demolitions

Related Expert

Steven Dean

Quantified Self

Work Today

Tech Job Site Created Just For Those Who Are Older Than 30

A new occupational job board presents a creative solution to age discrimination in the tech world

Europe Today

Architect Turns A Giant Smile Into A Public Exhibition

The structure offers visitors a new perspective of London and creates an immersive environment that integrates structure, surface, space and light

Children Today

Norwegian Kids Are Using Their Phones To Log Unsafe Street Conditions

Travel Agent is an app that gamifies the reporting of hazardous conditions to improve the safety of children's commute to school


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 27, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Travel Today

Google Wants To Help You Plan Your Next Trip

A new app curates vacation itineraries and organizes reservation emails to take the work out of planning a getaway

Technology Today

Small Handheld Analyzer Checks Oral Hygiene On The Go

The breath-detecting gadget gives people a quick and easy peek into their dental health

Asia Yesterday

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color

Health Yesterday

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Food Yesterday

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Design & Architecture Yesterday

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Yesterday

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

No search results found.