A reader writes:
In 19 years of heavy Internet use, I have never – not once – paid money for original written online content. Until now.
My partner always jokes that we don't pay for anything except food and our mortgage because I pirate everything else – movies, magazines, music, e-books. But you hooked me this time. I subscribed and did so happily.
Another isn't onboard:
I'm a reader since 2003 who won't be paying. I realize 20 dollars a year is not much. To me it's the principle. For better or worse I like my Internet free. Friends come and go. I'll miss you but with so many other free sites available that void shall be filled elsewhere. Best of luck.
A reminder to our reader and others that the vast majority of Dish content will remain free to non-members. Another is less torn:
So, wait … Andrew moves to New York City, complains about both the cost and the environment for weeks and now wants to charge readers to subsidize him and his staff living in Manhattan? Surely the same talent could be had in DC?
I probably will join, though. I do think it’s a shame that information and good public discussion is shifting into a "pay-to-play" operation. When I was in college, most news outlets were completely free and I got such a great variety of different perspectives, helping me form a worldview. With individual accounts to pay for each of these voices, it’s going to price a lot of people out of the market.
Another tough sell:
I've been thinking about whether or not I want to subscribe all day, and, right now, I have to say that it's a no. Your blog is compelling, but there are many compelling blogs out there. I don't feel that you ever truly atoned for Betsy McCaughey, and that's pretty hard to ignore.
People can make decisions about this based on whatever they like. But I hope the criterion is not some sin I have committed in the past or some outrageously dumb thing I will inevitably say in the future. Those can either not be undone or are integral to this blog. Another:
I was pissed when I first saw that you would charge for content. I'm 100% sure there's a way around it – I've gotten around pretty much every paywall on the Internet. So why treat your future one differently? Well, firstly, I knew an intern of yours from last year and I knew that he was treated fantastically well. This seemed encouraging. But more importantly, I've been a Dish-head for years. I'm probably to the far-left of most readers, and I'm constantly telling my Republican family that if they want to make intelligent right-of-center arguments, to read your blog. I don't particularly like a lot of your politics, but I respect the hell out of them, 98% of the time anyway.
Next, I've had letters put on the blog twice. It was really cool to feel like a part of the team, if only for a fleeting second. A highlight of my week, both times. But lastly, the real conundrum, if not for very long, is the cost. I'm working for a year, in the middle of law school, so I can pay for my last year of law school. I'll graduate with $180K in student loans. I've pretty much maxed out my credit, came up $8000 short for this year, and am literally saving every penny I can, because damnit, I'm going to be an awesome lawyer.
But even as I say 'no' every time friends or coworkers ask me to go out for drinks or dinner or a movie, I go home and read The Dish. I read many of the linked articles, too. I watch the videos. It's most of my entertainment and intellectual life right now. I spend WAY more than that average 17 minutes on the website every day. So what's it worth to me? A lot more than $20. But that's what I gave (sorry, I promise for more when I get a fancy career somewhere!) and I hope my little portion helps keep the blog afloat.
I just purchased your $19.99 pass. What I'm most excited about is your decision not to rely on advertising to supplement the subscription income.
I might have bought a pass anyways, since I'm a regular reader and want to support both your work and the decentralization of media, but to me the decision to eschew advertising is the really exciting idea. The standard line about this is that if you're not paying for the product, then you are the product. I know that's simplistic, but I think that being forced to cater to advertisers has all sorts of pernicious effects on privacy, framing, content, and even choices about coverage, and I am eager to see if moving away from that model has some unexpected positive side effects.
Congrats on the new model, I'm here to help. I signed up for $20.13 this year. Next year it will be $20.14, $20.15 in 2015, etc. That way, your income will rise with inflation, assuming of course inflation is only around 0.05%. Good luck.
Before I signing up, how much side boob will be featured on the new Dish?
Sorry, only side beard here. Another:
I laughed when I read the poll question, "Have you gotten your parents to start reading The Dish?" Not long after you began blogging, I got my then-13-year-old daughter to start reading The Dish. (She’s 24 now, and still a fan.) I also make it a point to mention your blog to my 50something peers; when I find a fellow Dishhead, it’s a real treat.
I was delighted to read your news, I've sent in my subscription (plus a little extra for all the wonderful hours of reading you’ve given me), and wish you many more years of mind-expanding, sometimes exasperating but always interesting (except for the beards), blogging.
Thank you for not making it $0.99 for the first four weeks and then some hard-to-find amount automatically billed thereafter. I rewarded you a bonus $5.01 just for that. If only the NY Times would treat me so well.
I have a deeply personal connection to the Dish. This past year I went through a painful divorce that involved sorting out custody for our two kids, setting up a new home, and upending the life I’ve built over the last 14 years. Hands down the worst year of my life. Throughout the year, one of the few daily constants has been the Dish. It’s something I turn to every morning when I wake up alone. I feel like I’m part of a community in a way I don’t as a reader of the NYT or New Yorker – even though I’m a silent reader who has never solved a VFYW content. Thank you and the entire Dish staff for everything. I look forward to many, many more years.
I'll be subscribing tonight on the home computer (I'm still "old fashioned" that way). The early rabid passion of Dish-heads will likely lead to many purchases above the $19.99 price, but it's important to note that this isn't a sustainable model. In fact, early comments you've posted indicate that people are paying up for ten years when they've received the Dish for free. Well, that won't apply next year.
Here's a thought: the photo of you and the staff celebrating your independence featured you all in the great Dish t-shirts. Take a page from NPR – for a subscription of $50 (you pick the level), you get a Dish t-shirt as well. You can also think about this along the lines of rock music – many musicians look to break even on the concert tickets, and make their money on merchandise. Certainly you could think of other level-based incentives once the initial first year rush to support the subscription model fades.