(A Sprinkling of Things We Think You Ought to Know…)
Jetsetter: The Week’s Taegan Goddard is back from vacation in Morocco with a new post, as promised, at The Cloakroom, and he admits should’ve sent us all a postcard while he was away! “Reports of my early retirement are premature. I made the editorial decision that blogging at The Week about the political affairs of Morocco on vacation might not meet readers’ expectations,” he wrote. A worried tipster wrote in yesterday wondering what was going on with The Cloakroom, as it seemed someone had shut the door and turned out the lights over the last few months—but, Goddard says all is well. Welcome back. He’s also got that relatively new Wonkwire blog at CQ Roll Call so he’s quite the busy bee.
The suit will go on: It doesn’t seem to have gotten a whole lot of attention, but last week a federal appeals court ruled that former Agriculture Department worker Shirley Sherrod can continue with her defamation lawsuit against the late Andrew Breitbart and aide Larry O’Connor. An appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision to not dismiss the case, even though O’Connor says that the video of Sherrod that Breitbart published—which made it look like she was saying racist things when she wasn’t—was protected speech. The appeal was denied on a technicality and not the merit of the claim. As a result, it’s probably a disappointing ruling for some news organizations who’d argued in friend of the court briefs that DC’s anti-SLAPP statute (short for strategic lawsuits against public participation) should apply. The statute, though, didn’t become law until a month after Sherrod’s suit was filed.
Take a lesson, news execs: Andrew Sullivan has been on the move a lot lately. He went from The Atlantic to The Daily Beast and then, finally, to complete independence when he took his insanely popular blog The Dish and let it stand on its own, relying on readers and a metered-content and subscription payment processor to pay the bills. There are no ads. Well, this week, after six months of an independent Dish, Sullivan says he’s got almost 27,000 paying subscribers and that the site is on track to hit revenue targets for the year—targets that are almost as high as its yearly budget at The Daily Beast. And, if everyone who runs up against the paywall after clicking-through on five free articles would subscribe, that would immediately double the number of paying readers. The real test, though, is going to be when those first 27,000 are up for renewal after a year. Will they click the pay button again? What’s most interesting about this though is that Sullivan is being completely transparent about the finances, and that seems to work in his favor. He’s posted all kinds of charts, graphs and conversion rates for the first six months, stuff most news orgs guard better than they do national security secrets. We hate to say time will tell to see if this experiment will work out for Sullivan, but in this case it really will.