Dish Renewal: Your Thoughts

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[Re-posted from earlier today]

The emails that have come into the in-tray in the last day or so have moved all of us here:

I’ve been waiting for this moment to renew since this whole experiment began – this opportunity to double down, to show solidarity. Because the Dish is what I wish every intellectual conversation to be: a frank exchange of competing ideas in the pursuit of truth and common understanding, with forgiveness for offenses given and taken, with generosity of spirit, and with gratitude that comes from the realization that no matter the outcome of the argument, each side will walk away smarter and more enriched than before. That’s what I get from the Dish every day. I would give more if I could.

Another is less psyched:

When I read your pro-Iraq war pieces, I was so appalled that I thought I might not resubscribe to andrew-sullivan-i-was-wrong-coverthe Dish. But I have softened in that stance and will go ahead and pledge a hundred dollars to your cause. One thing though: while I realize it’s an hour-by-hour blog, and you can write what you will, I remember the last time Hillary Clinton ran for president, you twice wrote that she was “Dick Cheney in a pants suit.”

That is not political commentary, I think, but rather Ann Coulter hysteria. Also, I did not find your most recent column on the Clintons convincing, in all its faux evenhandedness. And while I do not expect this sentence to bring about any change in your writing, I do want you to know that if you fall back into your old bad ways, and start the Dick Cheney shit (or anything even close), you will close the door forever on my yearly hundred bucks, and likely many others’ money as well.

I’m grateful for the subscription. I will, however, continue to write what I believe in. I don’t know any other way to write. I will at some point piss you off, possibly mightily. That’s a promise. But what makes Dish readers different, in my experience, is their ability to handle this. Whenever I bump into a Dish reader, he or she almost always says something along these lines: “I love the Dish. I don’t always agree with what you have to say though …” In fact, I haven’t yet met a Dishhead who does agree with me even most of the time. And that, as you well know, includes me sometimes, after a bit of reflection.

And what I hope we’ve been able to do these past few years – and it was prompted by my Iraq fiasco – is to ensure I am fully accountable for my errors of judgment (hence the “I Was Wrong” e-Book or routine clarifications and corrections like this one from earlier this week); and also, critically, to air opposing views in their strongest and best formulation and give the best dissents a thorough airing. The Dish team has that as one of their tasks – to push back against me, my biases and my flaws. So I hope that even if I drive you nuts at times, you’ll see that the Dish is now far more than me; it’s a community’s conversation with itself, with me as a biased facilitator and occasional provocateur (although I promise no more NSFW scrota). One reason we really hope you renew your subscription is that this model of public discourse is very rare in the often-polarized cacophony online. If you care about re-building a more civil, yet always lively, public conversation, it’s worth supporting.

Another renewed subscriber:

I just got your lovely email to founding members. What a privilege it is to be part of this amazing, vibrant community! Last year, I joined immediately at $50; it’s what I could afford at the time, as I was only employed part time. I’ve been back at full-time employment for awhile now, and I just renewed at $200. It feels so great to be able to support all of the Dish’s hard work. You all RULE!

We’re still processing the data and will report back with a couple days’ numbers tonight, as we promised. But we can report one thing: many readers have substantially increased their subscription rate this year over last (like the reader above). I asked if you could add $5 if you have the means. And you delivered. We just ran the numbers. In the first 36 hours of our launch last January, the average subscription price was roughly $31; after 30 hours this year in renewals, it’s $37.80. When you realize that no one has to pay more than $19.99 for full access, you begin to see the devotion of many readers to their favorite site. We’re just immensely grateful. If you keep this average up, it will be one hell of a leap forward. But if $19.99 is all you can afford in your budget, we’re delighted to have you stay as a fully equal part of the Dish community. Another reader writes:

I have been a regular reader of your work since 2004.  In a journalistic world marred by undisclosed advertorial, Murdoch propaganda and the confected “balance” of mainstream editorial policy, your site is an absolute necessity.  You were the clearest voice on torture and marriage equality. You remain the most incisive voice on the sickness in “conservative” politics.  You and your team introduced me to Twitter, TNC, Walt Whitman, Michael Oakeshott and Nate Silver.

I believe that in order to engage in genuine debate, one must be prepared to fully and honestly disclose and examine both the reasoning and factual foundation of opinions held.  You do that.  I hope that the Internet – with its search, verification and referencing capability – can banish the bare assertion from intelligent debate.  You are part of that. I hope that your founding subscribers will give you the support you need.  That is why, instead of simply renewing, I have “doubled down” and auto-renewed for $40 a year.

Another went with the monthly option:

I’ve been reading the Dish for the past three years or so, and because I read posts through an RSS feed, I managed to spend the past year freeloading. I don’t always agree with Andrew’s opinions – sometimes, I want to scream at him outright – but I’ve found myself being more careful, considerate and understanding in my own professional interactions, mirroring what I’ve seen through the dialogue you hold with your readers. You’ve built up a real community here, and I’ve been an all-too-silent (and cheap) observer. So I’m giving you $10 a month. It’s not the world – more like the price of two beers – but I’m certain that at some point, when my debts have shrunk, I’ll give you more. For now, let’s consider this the $2 monthly minimum, a $2 monthly atonement and $6 for three others who haven’t gotten around to subscribing yet.

Another got creative with the gifting option:

Happy anniversary and congratulations to you and your talented team. I have been an admirer of your writing for quite a few years – dinerLove Undetectable and Virtually Normal are on my short list of favorite books. I started subscribing in the middle of last year, and I will be delighted to renew now, in advance of the renewal date. Your encouragement to renew at a voluntary, higher rate caught my attention.  I seriously considered doing so – the educational and entertainment value far exceeds the subscription price.  But rather than double or triple my subscription price, I have decided to give a one-year subscription to one or two friends who I believe will appreciate the Dish.  This will increase your revenue and hopefully broaden your subscriber base.

We’re so grateful. A new subscriber writes:

I’ve been a regular reader for years, and I’ve been gaming the meter for a year with multiple devices, iPad, iPhone, multiple computers.  I finally decided it was time to [tinypass_offer text=”sign up for real”]. I obviously don’t agree with you about everything, but the Dish has been the most interesting and eclectic blog on the web for years.  Thanks for doing what you do. For $1.99 a month, it’s a steal.

One more reader:

Glad to see you altered your position on the poor woman in Texas. Your ability to consider other view points and change, or at least moderate, your position is one of the things that I value about very-gradual-changethe Dish. There are times when I profoundly disagree with your positions (and the poor woman in Texas is an example – and yes we can all agree that it’s a tragedy for everyone concerned), times when I’m just irritated by stupidity (some of the religious stuff – well actually most of it). But I truly value the insights you folks provide, the social commentary and the stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise find for myself.

I’ll definitely be renewing, and am happy to put the renewal on autopilot. I wish all of you the very best for the second year of this interesting experiment.

So a plea: renew now and help us stabilize and continue this adventure. Renew here. And thanks for everything. Drop us a note if you end up renewing; we love to hear from readers. One of the best emails we got today:

I wanted to let you know that I’ve been looking forward to renewing for some time. I’ve been reading the Dish religiously since 2000, including during my time in Army basic training. My mom would copy and paste several days of postings onto computer paper and mail them to me because we weren’t allowed to read newspapers or magazines, but we could receive letters.

(Top photos of Dish subscribers used with their permission)