Archives For: Dish Year 2


Feb 28 2014 @ 9:00pm

[Re-posted and updated from earlier today]

We passed that milestone in subscriptions a few minutes ago, marking a great end to a great February here athowler beagle the Dish. Revenue for February is up 25 percent over last year; and traffic hit a post-independence peak of 2.2 million unique visitors and 6.6 million pageviews this month, fueled in large part by interest in the anti-gay religious liberty bills in Kansas and Arizona.

Thanks for making this experiment in subscriber-supported online journalism possible. And if you are still procrastinating on subscribing, it couldn’t be quicker or easier. Subscribe here and help forge a web with fewer ads, ads masquerading as articles and countless distractions.

Update from a “nutty Kansas Democrat” and Founding Member of the Dish:

I renewed last night for $4.48 a month. Given what the 48th state (Arizona) did on Wednesday just seemed right. It’s amazing how fast this is changing isn’t it?  (Wasn’t it just 10 years ago that Bush had a primetime speech pushing for marriage protection?)  I think what you’re doing is worth a cup of coffee a month.  Keep up the good work.

Now make me some Dish swag!

We’re on it. Another Dish supporter:

I know you have probably receive a billion letters from subscribers and I’m a bit late to the party, but I’ve been really busy recently, which I’ll explain below. I’m a “founding member” subscriber and have been following your blog since the white-font-on-purple days, a somewhat liberal Democrat who found your approach to conservative thought refreshing and eye opening.  What caught me most at the time was your push for marriage equality, which as a gay man I yearned for.

I still remember coming out of the closet in 1986, a twenty-year-old college student who realized he couldn’t ignore who he was or would risk being alone his entire life.  The only grief I felt during those first exhilarating and challenging steps of coming out was the knowledge I would never be able to marry the man I loved, no matter who that man would turn out to be.

I met the love of my life on Valentine’s Day in 2006. In November of 2012 we drove from our home state of Arizona to Iowa and were married in the city of Clinton.  We drove because my husband-to-be is a Mexican national who let his visa expire years ago so we could remain together here in the States, so attempting to fly there was too big a risk.  We didn’t know what the future would have in store for us, but we knew we wanted to spend our lives together and marriage was important to both of us.

Read On

Email Of The Day

Feb 20 2014 @ 8:47pm

[Re-posted from earlier today]

A reader writes:

Just a quick note. I have read your blog for many years now.  I was an initial subscriber and also re-subscribed (for $40) for the new year.

howler beagleI’m getting spoiled by the no ads. In fact, since I’m so used to no ads, it is getting annoying to read other online content with ads. I regularly (at least used to) visit the Huffington Post. It is getting ridiculous how slow their site is becoming with all the extra crap. It’s getting to the point I don’t visit as much. I have a very fast machine with very fast Internet. It doesn’t help. It will sometimes take 30 seconds before all the content loads and I can actually scroll down and read the story.

In short, thanks for keeping your site clean. It is SO worth the subscription.

We feel the same way. Because so many other sites do not have any actual subscription revenue, and because revenue from ads keeps declining, the prevalence of sponsored content and ads and sponsored links will, I’m pretty sure, continue to proliferate. We started with the luxury of a very loyal readership, which enabled us to head off in the opposite direction to the herd when we went independent. That was a high-risk decision at the time; it’s been a high-reward move a year later.

As for an update, the revenue renewal rate is pretty steady at 105 percent over 2013. February’s revenue is now higher than last year – and we have a week to go. And our traffic in February – just under 2 million unique visitors so far – is currently the highest since we went independent. The potential for creating a space for vibrant, accessible, online journalism that is not overwhelmed by advertizing or pseudo-advertizing is real. Subscribe here – and help us maintain one of the highest signal-to-noise ratios on the web.

Update from a reader:

I’m rather red-faced that it’s taken this long, but I finally renewed my subscription. In honor of the age I’ll reach in three months, I renewed at $60. Why did it take so long? Who knows. Laziness, an attitude of I’ll-do-it-later, maybe a naïve assumption I didn’t click on READ ON all that much. Well, let me tell you something – these past few weeks have reminded me I click READ ON all the time. I was going through withdrawal not being able to read the full text of just about everything in The Dish. Being part-Ukrainian, and trying to devour your news about the protests in Maidan, I had to act. Withdrawal symptoms are lessening now.


Feb 5 2014 @ 2:10pm

That’s the number of auto-renewing subscriptions the Dish now has. I know we’ve been pestering you through this renewal process, but I hope you understand it’s because we needed to create a solid base to build and grow this community and conversation. We’ve now got the dustysnowyay.jpgfoundations for long-term survival as an independent site. We took the hardest route to get to the most solid ground. We are not in a daily desperate search for page-views and ad dollars, like so many other sites. We are incentivized entirely to make sure readers want to renew their subscriptions each year and don’t want to cancel.

I don’t know of another news and opinion site online that has close to 25,000 subscribers. I don’t know of another that has no ads. So I just wanted to thank you for this unique achievement. And to pledge to you we will use every penny to make the Dish the best single source for news and opinion on the web. We cannot begin to express the gratitude we now feel, and the excitement for what we are about to build.

Last Call For Renewals!

Feb 4 2014 @ 9:22pm

[Re-posted from earlier today]

Today is the Dish’s first anniversary of going independent on our own site with our own company. We launched for real on February 4, 2013. And that’s when I, along with a large swathe of you, started my subscription. Today it expires, and sooner or later, if you haven’t yet renewed, you’ll have the irritating prospect of being blocked by our meter system. We always promised transparency so here’s the state-of-play of the last thirteen months as of this lunchtime:

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.11.50 PM

As you can see, we matched January 2013′s total in January 2014. Actually, we beat it by a smidgen last Friday night. That’s a pretty extraordinary result and an amazing start for the year. But it’s not enough to sustain us for the year ahead with even last year’s budget and February remains a critical month for us, as you can see from the graph above. More to the point, we know there are many of you out there who subscribed last January and February and who’ve understandably been putting off renewing until you absolutely have to. I get that, because it’s the kind of procrastination I’m pretty good at myself. But the moment when you actually have to renew in order to avoid any future interruptions is now here. Today is the last day you can simply renew your subscription and never get your reading intercepted by our meter. After today, you can still subscribe, of course, but you’ll have to start again as a new subscriber.

So if you’ve been procrastinating on this but always intended to renew – and we totally understand why – howler beaglecount this as a friendly nudge to get it over with. It’s a truly simple and quick process, and you can get it done in a couple of minutes tops. Take a moment to ask yourself what the Dish is actually worth to you over the year – and plug it into the renewal box. It’s still only a minimum of $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year – but many renewing subscribers have picked price points more tailored to them. It could be the double chai option of $3.60 a month; or a pledge to support our coverage of the marijuana legalization debate at $4.20 a month; or a decision to back this new model for online journalism by upping your subscription to $100 a year (541 hardcore Dishheads have so far); or just a simple renewal at the same minimum price as last year. Our most popular price point right now is $25 a year; but the $50 a year is our fifth most popular, and our average price this year is still around $37.

We’ll leave it to you to create a price point tailored to you. And we’re thrilled to have you along for the ride at whatever price point you can afford. But today is the last day you can simply renew and avoid any future hassles or interruptions.

So renew here! Renew now! And make sure your Dish reading experience is never interrupted again. If you run into any problems renewing, please email us at

Update from a new subscriber, who throws another price-point in the mix:

Following in the new tradition of adding a tip to the bill, I paid 31.41 – because I’m a nerd.

Another reader’s formula:

I renewed my subscription at $32.99 because the Dish it is the first thing I check every morning and several times throughout the day. I think it is probably worth $40.00 a year, but I deducted $7.00 for the God stuff and a penny for the dogs. I hate dogs.

One more reader:

Yes, I was a straggler. Part of it was procrastination. Part of it was just wanting to push you to the edge (sorry!). Part of it was money struggles. But today I put fifty bucks into your till because, frankly, you’re irritatingly worth it. And I really don’t want to miss Deep Dish.

Keep up the good (yet sometimes infuriating) work. Thanks to you, Andrew, and the entire team. You help keep me sane.

Beard Of The Week

Feb 4 2014 @ 5:14pm

photo (37)

A subscriber, by sending the above photo, panders successfully:

I just renewed and bumped up the price to $25 for now, and likely more to come later. I’ve been a reader for a solid decade, and for a busy person with limited reading time, the Dish offers an incredible value with a great balance of breadth and depth. We’re all richer for it.


Holy shit. It’s taken me this long to figure out that the Dish and my firstborn have the same exact date of birth (one year ago today). I’ve been procrastinating on the renewal, but obviously the universe wants me to knock it off. Anyway: I renewed for $23.273 (which I rounded up to $23.28), which is how you spell “beard” on a standard keypad.

A Conversation With John Heilemann

Feb 4 2014 @ 11:40am

The State Funeral Of Former South African President Nelson Mandela

In the craziness of our first renewal push, we put projects for Deep Dish on hold – in part because the workload was already overwhelming and in part because we did not know if we would have the revenue to keep it going this year. The good news is: we are confident enough that we can begin to add content again to our long-form, subscribers-only essays and podcasts. We still don’t have the budget to plan ahead much – help us get there by renewing here or subscribing here for just $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year – but we can definitely start creating content deep-dish-buttonfor it again.

We’ve made one change: we’re not going to create Deep Dish every month in one big content-dump. I realized I’d adopted a classic magazine model for long-form – because that was what I had been used to in legacy journalism. But on the web, we don’t need to have one monthly deadline, and you don’t need to read or listen to the essays and podcasts in one intimidating lump.

So we’re adding Deep Dish items as we go along in more digestible portions. First up: some crack for all you political junkies. It’s a chat with my old friend John Heilemann, New York magazine writer, co-author of two of the best campaign books out there, Game Change and Double Down, and one of the sharpest political minds out there. We cover the gamut of topics, from weed to steroids to the 2012 race and the web. One major focus is the Hillary Clinton campaign – someone John has covered for many years. Here’s a short clip from our discussion of the Clinton juggernaut now rumbling down the track toward us:


And here’s a snippet from our discussion of Obama’s potential legacy as president:


It’s not a TV interview; it’s not a book-plug. It’s just a conversation you’d never be able to have on radio or TV.

Check it out on Deep Dish here. If you’re a Founding Member, and haven’t gotten around to renewing yet, this is, for many of you, the last day you’ll have access to Deep Dish (subscriptions that began February 4, 2013, expire today). So take this as an opportunity – okay, another nudge – for renewing and ensuring you are never shut out of content you’ve already helped to finance.

Renew here! Renew now! Or subscribe here if it’s your first time. It takes just two minutes and can give you full and complete access to the Dish, including Deep Dish, from here on out.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Dishheads Around The Globe

Feb 3 2014 @ 12:00pm

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 4.38.50 AM

A reader writes:

I have read you pretty religiously since the 2008 campaign. I actually first checked out your blog back in 2004, but as a teenager in Darwin, Australia it didn’t make much sense. But by now I’ve basically stopped reading anything else and rely on the Dish and NYT headlines. I was a founding subscriber last year and just re-upped for $25 (I’m a grad student, so I might pay more when it’s not going straight on my student loan.)

This Christmas I also bought a gift subscription for each of my little brothers. I’ve taken their education seriously and have previously done things like get the Guardian Weekly delivered to us in Oz, or sign them up for Foreign Affairs and The New Yorker. This year we are all going to be on different continents outside Oz for the first time. I wanted them to have something that was relevant to their lives as global citizens and would give us common reading experiences to discuss. I’m hoping the Dish will be more than just a news source, but help bring us closer together while we are apart.

Australia is just one of the top 30 countries seen in the above screenshot of the Dish’s back-end, displaying the number of page-views we have accrued in the past 30 days. That list continues far down the page and ends up encompassing nearly every nation on earth, down to Rwanda (37 page-views), Nepal (30), Paraguay (25), Mongolia (13), and Uzbekistan (1). A Kiwi writes:

It’s summer down here in New Zealand, and I’m just back from some serious doing nothing on a beach. And the first bit of actual something I’ve done (okay, except for putting the laundry on), is to renew my subscription. Because I like what you’re doing for journalism. And I get that this intimate media model means that I’m allowed to make suggestions for improving things. So here it is in two words: MORE RUGBY.

(Did I mention that I’m from New Zealand, home of all the rugby world titles? Except, to our shame, one: the Bingham Cup. See here for a story on the New Zealand Falcons who are going to Sydney this year to rectify that gap.)

Keep up the good work – and more rugby, please.

My dad has a big wide grin as he reads this. Update from a reader who tries to widen it with this video:

Read On

So Close

Jan 31 2014 @ 8:45pm

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 11.34.01 AM

[Re-posted from earlier today]

We just passed $505,000 in revenue in January, and there are now only hours to go before the month ends. Last year, we had $516,000 in the same month. Can we actually make it over the top?  [Update at 8.30 pm: $512,000 - almost there! Update at 10.30 pm: $515,000! Update at 12 am: We made it, right on the nose!] Renew here! Renew now! Or subscribe here if it’s your first time. Update from a reader who did just that:

Ok, you got me! After years of faithful reading, I finally decided to pony up and help get you over the 516K bump. Hopefully you make it.

Why did I stand on the sidelines for a year? I don’t know … I check your blog multiple times a day (with the exception of Sunday), I silently empathized when you lost your beagle (as I had lost mine just a few months prior) and I consider the time you linked to my blog a few years ago as the highpoint of my online life. Perhaps I needed a year to see if this new model would change the Dish in ways I wouldn’t like. If so, I clearly need not have worried. You all continue to do excellent work. Here’s to many more successful years!

Another gets novel:

Instead of renewing at a higher amount, I gave three gift subscriptions to my siblings. Seedlings!

Another creates another price-point to add to $4.20/month and double chai ($36):

I started to enter double the required annual price ($19.99), then decided to honor our current president with $44.

The Dish, Year 2: Update

Jan 30 2014 @ 2:57pm

David Carr has a column on various models for the future of online journalism and the Dish reader-backed concept is one of the more promising. Here’s why:

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 1.50.16 PM

In a little over two weeks, we’ve raised as much new revenue as we did in all of last January. We’re now at $499,000, compared with $516,000 in 2013. And many of you have yet to get around to renewing, since your subscriptions only actually expire for the first Founding Members starting February 4. The reason we’re doing better in money terms despite fewer subscribers is that the average price for a sub has gone up from around $31 to close to $38. If that trend continues with future renewals, we can really start shaking things up.

We had our weekly meeting last night at our regular diner. Here’s what we were talking about: how to develop and innovate and expand Deep Dish, if the resources emerge to do so. After all, our budget last year did not include Deep Dish, which had to remain in prototype for lack of staff, money and simply time. If this year’s budget increases in line with your subscriptions, it opens up far more territory for commissioning and publishing original journalism from the best writers out there. Right now, putting out this blog every day is a full-time task for an editorial staff of six (with three interns). But for the first time, we see glimmers of the revenue that could actually make Deep Dish a part of the rejuvenation of quality journalism on the web.

So help us get there. We’ve got just a day and half to reach last January’s total: a day and a half to add $17,000. If you’ve always intended to subscribe and have never gotten around to it, subscribe for the first time here (for just $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year). If you are already a rampart of this new model: Renew here! Renew now! We’ve already begun to make a difference. If we keep going, we can do much more.

Update from a reader just now:

Perhaps you can remind us how we can purchase gift subscriptions too? I have some extra-cranky Tea Partying in-laws who could use some Dishness in their lives. Or, at the very least, I can sling some more money your way!

The gift subscription link is here.

The Dish, Year 2: Update

Jan 29 2014 @ 9:30pm

[Re-posted from earlier today]

The latest numbers on renewals:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.19.04 PM

There are two and a half days left in January – and revenue is almost equal to last year’s first month. In two weeks this January, we’ve gotten $490,000 in revenue. In all of last January, new subscription revenue was $516,000. Can we match it? I think this is now a real Rubicon for reader-supported content online. If we can prove that subscribers won’t just pay for content, but that they’ll pay consistently over time, we’ll be helping to prove that the web doesn’t have to be a blizzard of ads, gimmicks, slide-shows, sponsored content, and Upworthy headlines. It can actually have a much higher signal-to-noise ratio; it can be visually uncluttered; it can be intelligent and not crammed with flaming comments; it can begin to generate a business model that can invest in quality journalism, as we hope to do by expanding Deep Dish.

You’ve made this happen. And many of you still can. Renew here! Renew now! Or if you’ve always intended to subscribe and have never gotten around to it, subscribe for the first time here (for just $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year) and help us change the future of online journalism. Update from a reader, who adds a new price point to ones such as $4.20 and double chai:

So far the Dish is as significant in my Internet diet as Facebook, and I am kind of addicted to Facebook, so you can see I am milking every cent of my first year $19.99 subscription. This year I was planning to increase my subscription to $25, but I took the Euler number as an inspiration. This number is 2.718 … but I had a short circuit in my brain so I invested $23.18 (instead of my planned $27.18, I guess I’ll upgrade to $217.8 the day I have a real salary, but right now I am a graduate student, sigh).

Anyway, I googled 23.18 and I found the following Bible verse: Proverbs 23,18 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Nearly There For January

Jan 27 2014 @ 9:30pm

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 3.28.26 PM

[Re-posted and updated from earlier today]

The above graph is the state of play in our renewals drive so far in January. That towering peak on the far left is the amount of revenue we raised for the entire month of January of last year – beginning on January 2. The peak on the right is the amount of revenue we have raised so far in renewals and new subs since January 13 this year. The revenue last year was $516,500 for all of January. The revenue in January 2014 – with five days to go until February – is, as of this posting [at 3.40 pm], $471,000 [currently $475,000]. We still have to match February 2013′s $105,000 and most of March 2013′s $35,000 in the coming two months, but January was the huge mountain we had to climb first.

And the summit is in sight -  we have five days to make that graph above exactly symmetrical. And what a statement that would make about the viability of reader-supported online journalism.

So if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, and still intend to renew, take a second to do it now. It’s real easy – only a couple of minutes of your time for a year’s worth of full Dish and Deep Dish access. And if you have howler beagleput off subscribing in the first place, now would be the perfect time to help push us over the top. Subscribe for the first time here – and help us make it.

To say we’re grateful for this vote of confidence and support would be an understatement. But apart from gratitude, the other thing we’re feeling is excitement: that this simple, basic business model is beginning to prove it can work. And if it can, then the possibilities of rebuilding intelligent journalism online just began to expand a little.

Can you get us to match last January by February 1 – and blaze a trail for new reader-supported online journalism? We’ll keep you posted with the progress, as we have so far, and will do as long as we are around.

Renew here! Renew now! And help change the future of online journalism.

Update from a reader, who isn’t so sure:

Thank you for validating my decision not to subscribe today. As I have written previously (and you have published at least once), I will not subscribe to an online publication that allows an editor to decide which reader opinions are worthy of being aired and which can be safely ignored. We had that model with print newspapers and it’s one of the reasons I was an early adopter of online news sources.

You wrote today that “victimology … began on the hard left, of course, in the 1990s” without a single citation or example. You wrote it as something that is self-evident. If you allowed comments I would have called you out on that on your own website, and I assume other readers would have to. You would, of course, still have had the option of addressing us or ignoring us, but it would all be transparent. Until you allow that transparency I won’t be subscribing to the Dish.

P.S. I’m sure you’ve thought of it already, but there is probably money to be made from enhanced “subscription plus” model that allows the subscriber to comment for a higher price.

As long-time readers know, the Dish has run multiple polls asking readers if they want to see an unmoderated comments section, and each time they have voted it down. As far as the reader’s “P.S.”, the Dish will never be pay-to-play. The only speech here is free. Another reader:

I just re-upped for another year with a $10 a month subscription. We get at least that much use of the site as a marital aid. Let me explain …

Read On

Beard Of The Week

Jan 27 2014 @ 3:02pm


A reader sends the above photo:

I just renewed for $50, which I consider a bargain. I’ve been reading this blog almost cover to cover since about the time you moved to the Atlantic; and while I’m not into religion or poetry, I read those posts too. They are always thoughtful and worth my time. With all the blowhards out there, it’s refreshing to hear a voice that’s passionate about a wide variety of worthwhile things without being mind-numbingly monomaniacal and bonkers. Bon chance.

And as long as you’re posting silly pictures of Dishheads, feel free to use this one. Every boy should have a rhinoceros.

Quote For The Day II

Jan 27 2014 @ 10:29am

“Last year, Andrew took a leap of faith, leaving behind the downward spiral of ad-supported mainstream media and branching out on his own with The Dish – my favorite site, offering the web’s smartest cultural commentary, and a ray of hope for intelligent, ad-free journalism howler beagledriven by passion and integrity rather than commercial greed.

This, in fact, is the purpose of this modest PSA: Similarly to Brain Pickings, what makes The Dish possible are reader subscriptions. They keep the lights on for Andrew and his small team, not only allowing them to continue doing what they do so brilliantly but also offering a broader proof-of-concept for the potential of such brave, paradigm-redefining models for new media and integrity-driven journalism. So I urge you to consider becoming a Dish subscriber, or if you’re already one, renewing your subscription at the start of this critical second year. We shape this world with our decisions about what to give our support and attention to, and The Dish is the kind of thing that makes our world, quite simply, better,” – Maria Popova, in her weekly newsletter for Brain Pickings.

Subscribing On Sunday

Jan 26 2014 @ 10:04pm

[Re-posted from earlier today]

Quite a while back, I wanted to create at the Dish a real online conversation about the last things and the first things – as well as the present things. In due time, the Dish’s weekend has emerged, from my original ramblings and readings and now curated and edited by the Dish team, led by Jessie Roberts, elevated by Alice Quinn, and deepened by Matt Sitman. We’ve created, I hope, a very rare place online that takes Saturday_Poemsome time in the week to gather and air the best ideas, arguments, insights in online writing about literature, love, death, philosophy, faith, art, atheism, and sexuality.

In one of our reader surveys, we discovered that 50 percent of Dish readers are believers and 50 percent are non-believers. Where else do you find that kind of mix online or in the culture at large? I know it drives a lot of readers nuts that we actually take religious faith and experience seriously at the Dish – but I also know that many others of you really appreciate what we do here each weekend, and, even when you disagree strongly with stuff I write or we link to, see the importance of a civil space for this vital conversation.

My own belief is that you cannot understand politics today without also understanding religion – whatever your beliefs may be. And, while I am obviously a believing Christian, I hope the Dish is a place where a passionate atheist can also read views and arguments consonant with her own. It’s the conversation that counts. Or rather: the civil conversation.

kcpoem2So forgive me for interrupting this Sunday’s coverage by asking those of you who value its unique mix to renew your expiring subscription here, if you haven’t yet, or to subscribe for the first time here, if you never have. Just ask yourself how much this coverage is worth to you over a year and pay your own price. If you’ve read something that made you think, or spurred your imagination, or provoked a memory, or generated a prayer, or cemented your atheism, ask yourself how much that experience is worth, compared with everything else you pay for.

I know things are tight, which is why we aren’t changing our basic subscription of $1.99 a month and $19.99 a year, but if you can give more, we will plow those resources into this part of the weekend and into consolidating Deep Dish’s coverage of these questions as well – see The Untier Of Knots, my essay on Pope Francis as a prototype of how we hope at some point to start commissioning  and publishing essays as well as curating and commenting on them.

And thanks for being here each week. I’ve learned so much and hope to learn so much more in the years to come.

Renew now! Renew here! Or subscribe for the first time here!

A reader quotes another who isn’t a big fan of Sunday Dish:

Read On

20,050 20,352 21,000!

Jan 26 2014 @ 8:14pm


[Updated and re-posted from yesterday]

Thursday night I wondered if we could make it to 20,000 auto-renewing subscribers (out of 35,000 total subscribers) by the end of the week. You did it overnight. It confirms a new trend. The average subscription price is much higher than last year – try the “double chai” option increasingly popular with readers -  and revenue in our second week this year is now twice what it was last year.  (Here’s a Washington Post piece on our progress.)

Could we get to 21,000 by Saturday night? We inched ever closer – but just passed the 21,000 milestone three minutes ago. Thanks – and keep the momentum going. Renew now! Renew here!

It’s really easy, as a reader just emailed to say:

Read On