The Best Of The Dish This Weekend

Aug 18 2013 @ 9:00pm

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Five must-reads: Isaac Asimov, proving our almost instinct is almost true; Francis Spufford’s guide to how to pray to the God who loves; George Orwell’s quotidian and sometimes funny private life; A.O. Scott’s definition of “strained pulp“; and the Burka-clad super-heroine!

Quote for the day: “Every angel is terror.”

The most popular posts since we went independent are “The Saddest Map In America” and “Two Popes, One Secretary” with “The GOP Calls Its Own Fiscal Bluff” and “Noonan Just Loses It,” coming up from behind. Our three biggest referrers were Google, Twitter and Facebook in that order. Over the same seven months, we sent the most Dish traffic to The Atlantic, Slate, and TPM.

I’m starting my annual fortnight August vacation tomorrow, going off-grid for a week, and then off-off-grid. I leave you in the extremely capable hands of the Dish editorial team: Patrick, Chris, Jessie, Matt, Alice, Chas, Tracy and Brendan. It’s easily the best team we’ve ever assembled in this spot – and they have more than carried this blogazine to places and topics and debates and photos and tweets and videos no single person could ever reach on his own. I’m so grateful to them, and so much better a blogger because of them.

Which means, of course, a debt of gratitude to you too, Dish readers and subscribers. This summer, for the first time, I’m taking a vacation from, er, myself and my two partners in Dish Publishing LLC, Chris and Patrick. It was by no means a sure thing. Since last August, we didn’t just produce the Dish every day, we also moved the Dish from the Beast to our new, independent platform, financed entirely by howler beaglereaders. Figuring that business model out, finding Tinypass, our meter-partner, designing a new page, with a new search function, figuring out taxes and legal stuff and health insurance and payroll … it’s been quite a learning curve for us. And easily the most exhausting as well as exhilarating year in the Dish’s life.

But looking back, it may well have been one of our best years ever. Jessie’s return has paid massive dividends every day; Alice’s poetry selection is the best on the web; Matt’s coverage of religious and cultural debates has brought the weekends new sophistication; Chas has been integral to every new technological challenge and, with Brendan, a master of Twitter. Tracy may be the best single intern we’ve ever had. Our new general manager, Brian Senecal, has been a godsend for dealing with the myriad practical things we need to get done and organized. Patrick and Chris remain, of course, the prime movers behind all of this. I couldn’t begin to name their contributions because they are so legion. Let’s just say that running a business while also producing up to 50 posts a day and dealing with me is not something for the fainthearted. But they did it – with aplomb.

The Dish now has close to 30,000 subscribers. We’ve raised revenue of $743,000 toward our year-end goal of $900,000 by next February.

None of this would have been possible without your subscriptions and support and countless communications with us every minute of the day and night. We know that our core strength is our readership – the single best readership online, IMHO. And so, before I hand over the sandbox, I just wanted to say personal thanks to all of you who placed your faith in us and subscribed. We hope to add some features this Dusty in ivyfall to enhance your subscriber experience some more. And on a personal note, the emails about Dusty were overwhelming in their tenderness and empathy. People say the web is for haters. Not here. Not in the Dish community.

And for the 11,000 of you who have used up all your meter allowances and still haven’t subscribed, please do. If you were all to subscribe, we would have no worries for the future and could plan confidently for Year Two. The price is only $1.99 a month/$19.99 a year – or more if you want. So take a minute to ask yourselves if the work we all do each day is worth that to you. If it is, please take two minutes to get off the fence and subscribe. If you want online, truly independent journalism to survive, we need your help. Eschewing advertisers for now gives us a much higher signal-to-noise ratio and makes us much more independent of corporate pressure than much of online media – and enables us to push the envelope on topics most big advertisers would run from. But we cannot keep this up unless we get more new subscribers.

So help out and subscribe! And see you in a couple of weeks.