If you read much about the journalism and the people crossing their fingers tight in hopes of it having any kind of future, you’ve probably noticed lots of articles recently on how subscriber-funded newsletters are the wave of the future, with popular writers like Heather Cox Richardson and Matt Yglesias raking in big bucks by signing up thousands of subscribers at $5 a month a pop. You may also have noticed a spate of response articles, warning that requiring journalists to behave like influencers to earn a living maybe does not make for the best journalism, or the best lives for journalists.
I’ve thought several times about either turning FoS into a paid newsletter or adding a separate newsletter in addition to the website, and always rejected it for a bunch of reasons: it’s important to me that the information here continue to be a free resource to everyone from journalists to elected officials to casual sports fans, not be trapped behind a paywall for paid subscribers only; it serves FoS readers better if I write about events as they happen, not send out a text dump once a week; for every Matt Yglesias there are dozens of lesser-known Substackers churning out newsletter after newsletter without making a living wage. This site works well for me as it is, and I hope for you as well, and it seems silly to fix what ain’t broke in search of some payday that may or may not come.
To keep it working, though, I depend on an even weirder business model than paid email newsletters, which can best be summed up as you sending me money for no reason other than you like my work here. Sure, you can get some rewards as well — I still have a nice stock of the new series of refrigerator magnets to send out to anyone who donates even $25 a year, plus funders at the $50 for six months or $100 per year level get to place a rotating ad for absolutely anything they like in the site’s right-hand sidebar. But I’m continually surprised and gratified at how many readers turn down those goodies, saying they just want to support the work that this site has been doing for (gulp) almost 23 years.
So, if you can spare a small slice of your stimulus check, please consider becoming an FoS Supporter (or renewing your supportership) at one of the available levels. I’ve even freshly broken it down for you by cost per month, so you don’t have to do math! Such is the level of customer service I provide here for you, and which I will continue to do until the sun goes dark, doing this becomes financially unsustainable, or sports team owners stop trying to build fancier and fancier playgrounds to boost their own profits by sending the bills to taxpayers. (Not holding my breath for that last one, but we can always hope!)
Thanks, everyone, for your past and future support, and here’s hoping for a better 2021, or at least one with even more absurd vaportecture.