Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fundraiser Day Five: In Which Andrew Sullivan Insists That You Send Me Money

Well obviously not me specifically because as a Liberal I am merely a fitful figment of the collective Conservative imagination. Probably just an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. In fact I'll bet there's more of pastrami-on-rye than of writer about me, whatever I am!

But Mr. Sullivan does exhort people to shower dollars on hard-working writers such as Mr. Sullivan because it's hard out there for a writer:
It’s Hard Out There For A Writer 
OCT 31 2013 @ 1:40PM

... I’m pinioned between these two conflicting forces. Magazine writers were coddled in luxurious greenhouses for years and in some ways, the new desert we are struggling in is a tonic against some of the mediocre crap that used to be run at endless length in what were effectively gilded guilds. And yet, the new landscape is also more of a desert than a plain. There’s almost nothing to eat unless you do something other than writing as well. Some new media patrons seem to be filling in the gaps – in nonfiction, we have Bezos and Omidyar and Hughes coming to the rescue. Others may follow. But that would be – yes, I will retire this metaphor in this sentence – a bunch of precious, gilded oases, in a still-vast wasteland, rather than a viable, renewable ecology.

What interests me is finding a way to pay writers with money that comes from readers. It’s that simple really. The end of paper and print as the delivery system should make that feasible in principle. After all, what the old media barons used to have on their side was their unique ability to pay for all that industrial-sized printing and mailing. Now, all those costs have disappeared. So where are the new journals and magazines and blogazines, founded by writers and aimed at readers? There are many online, and at the Dish we do all we can to find and promote them. But there is as yet no viable, sustained model for them to stand on their own two feet.
Banner ads can also be useful – but it’s hard (and ethically tenuous) for a lone writer to both do her job and also persuade companies to sponsor her. Remnant advertizing – breakthroughs in testosterone! – can work too. Put some or all of this together and you have a model that might provide more writers with a way to make a living as writers.

In other words, what makes my own job so exhilarating – and nerve-wracking – is the chance not just to create and constantly evolve an online blogazine, but to pioneer a bit of this new writing economy. Dish subscribers already pay six full-time writers and researchers (including interns) and give everyone health insurance; in the future, we’d really like to start using this still-new model to commission and pay good money for long-form journalism. We won’t be able to help book-writers (except for promoting, examining and talking about), but we hope to be able to help nonfiction writers more generally – and not just with eyeballs. That’s why subscribing to the Dish is not just about the Dish. It’s about trying to create a new economy for writing...
Mr. Sullivan sells his pitch with this punch directly to my heart:
Harlan Ellison has a great, if somewhat excessive, rant on this:
So while I obviously agree strongly with "Pay The Effing Writer" I also retain vivid memories of the last couple of "New!Digital!Economy!" schemes which ended with a few people getting very rich and everyone else wondering what the hell had happened to the revolution that was supposed to be just around the corner.

Either way, I strongly endorse Andrew Sullivan's idea that you should send me money, because even if you think after eight years that I am undeserving or talentless or too sweary or just a fragment of underdone potato, remember, you're not sending me money just for my sake.  Oh heavens no!  You are a pioneer, goddamn it!  Pioneering your pioneer heart out to create an even newer, new economy

for the world's oldest profession!

So commence to pioneering!


Hef said...

How was this not titled: "The Stupidest Shit Andrew Sullivan Said"? There's no way that "somewhat excessive" Harlan Ellison rant is a coincidence. You've been ripped off by Sully. At least you know he reads your stuff. If you play your cards right, who knows? You could be one of those interns with health insurance!

Anonymous said...

I read Sully. Namely for the silly videos and odd discussions on things like your cat being a mass murderer. But all his political ramblings are pretty much the same thing everyone I run into daily repeats regardless of their political affiliation... being in the beltway probably has a lot to do with that.

But I won't pay for his stuff, and I've read less of him since he put up that pay wall, even though it's laughably easy to get around.

So... I've given you more money than I've given him.

Anonymous said...

Sully gives a plentiful range of stuff, most of it interesting (except for the Sunday crap.) I don't feel any need to embrace his views to justify my subscription. An one who offers the same intellectual feeding station will get my support.

Anonymous said...

Of course he reads you. Why does he act like there isn't a record of everything he's done wrong online?


marindenver said...

I give you money for the same reason that I give Colorado Public Radio money - I value the content and I think it should be paid for. My life would be lesser without it. Thank you DG!

John E. Williams said...

Just how the fuck is Harlan's rant even "somewhat" excessive? At one point should Harlan have reined it in? How can you have any awareness of Harlan Ellison and not expect some level of (usually immensely entertaining) overdoing? And why should anyone care what the fuck Sully thinks?