A Note To Our Readers, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2015 @ 11:20am

It’s been a highly emotional and tough week for the Dish team, especially given the outpouring of love from the in-tray. We’re so grateful and not a little moved by your insistence that the Dish somehow go on, post-Sully.

But the truth is: we’ve been grappling with that question now for months, and this is not as sudden a decision as it may appear from the outside. Since last summer, we’ve been thinking through whether a transition to a Sully-free Dish could work, and what it would take to re-launch the Dish as simply an aggregation/curation news and opinion site, who would run it, who would write for it, etc. We’ve talked to potential investors; we’ve discussed how it would work editorially; we’ve gone through the numbers; we’ve assessed exactly how heavy a lift it might be. And we concluded it would be a very, very heavy lift. The tipping point was my health, which made a core decision for me (and us) last month, as our auto-renewals loomed. We’re all only human. At some point, the marathon has to end.

We revisited all of this again in the wake of your emails. You deserved that. But the simple truth is: all three co-owners of the site, me, Patrick Appel and Chris Bodenner, have come to the conclusion that the practical, financial and editorial challenges of continuing on are howler beaglesimply too great for us to bear as we are, let alone without me. We’re a tiny team, already stretched beyond any sane life/work balance, with no financial backer, and a work ethic that might be alternately described as manic or masochistic. I’m not the only one exhausted and drained after years and years of intense, always-on-deadline work – not just editorially, but also these past two years in running a small business. We’re a very tight ship as we are, with a drained crew. The seas ahead would be extremely rough, and the danger of sinking without a captain quite high. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved, which is why, in some ways, we’d rather end it while it’s still thriving than run the risk of seeing it all slowly fall apart. We owe that to the Dish itself, to ourselves and to you.

I know this is a brutal decision and I can tell you in all candor how deeply painful it has been for us. Each of us has given our all to this adventure; it has dominated our lives for years; it has been a source of enormous joy and satisfaction as well as profound strain and anxiety. We are as addicted to it as you are, and withdrawal will be really tough. But we’ve made the call that there is a time for everything, and that the Dish will and should live on as a pioneering fifteen-year experiment at the dawn of the new media age. We feel we’ve left behind a model of what an online community can truly be, what a site uncontaminated with p.r. can achieve, and how it’s possible for less than ten people to corral a million people a month and 30,000 paying subscribers into a conversation without end.

And yes, the conversation will continue – just not in this form and not in this place. The Dish, after all, is a very new media invention. It’s less an institution than an organism – a living breathing creature that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s you and me and life and the Dish team all living and thinking and writing together in real time through the twists and eddies of history. It’s not a physical object, or an institution. We’ve never had an office. And we’ve tended to it like a living organism, listening to its intimations, letting it take us where it wants us to go, always innovating but also retaining core elements that never change. Once you start dismantling bits of it, or removing parts of its DNA, or reconstituting it without me, you risk an unraveling. The Dish’s legacy deserves better.

As for you and us, we will stay in touch. We have 30,000 email addresses – and we’ll reach out to you as the team goes on to new projects and as I figure out my own future. I know that Friday, our last day of Dishing, will be deeply emotional. But better to end something cleanly and clearly than drag it out.

And for the next few days, let’s celebrate. Let’s remember the highs and lows, the insanity and the wisdom, the humor and the deadly seriousness of what the Dish has created and spawned these past several years. Let’s remember what we created together and be glad. For we have something wonderful to be glad about.