Minding The Store

by Patrick Appel

As always, it a pleasure to step in while Andrew gets some much needed rest. Guest-blogging is not all that different than my day-to-day activities on the Dish – 24 of the 50 posts currently on the front page were written by me. All the substantive posts are Andrew’s work, but it’s my and Chris’s job to read through the blogosphere and pick out the choicest bits. Andrew edits, approves, and spins what we find, but the illusion of an all-reading blogger is maintained by employing two extra sets of eyes.

I’ll be checking Andrew’s general e-mail account this week (andrew@theatlantic.com). We typically get around 450 e-mails a day, but correspondence drops significantly during Andrew’s absences. If you want to see an e-mail of yours posted to the Dish, you have a much better chance of not being overlooked if you write this week. 

Andrew will return December 21st.

Blogs vs Talk Radio

A reader writes:

I read the dissent of the day about a reader's fatigue with the Palin soap opera. I agree with the reader on the subject of Palin obsession, but disagree with his threat to stop reading. The Dish covers a whole host of subjects and if I find one that doesn't interest me, like Palin drama, I skip it. We are not obligated as readers to read every post, are we? Of course not.

That's why I prefer the blogsophere to talk radio. If a talk show host goes off on a subject that I have no interest in, I'm stuck. Sure I can put on some music but my political fix is left unfulfilled. With blogs, especially this one, there is plenty to sink your mind into – at your own pace.

That is part of what we've been trying to do here. Since coming to the Atlantic, I've had the chance to get the input of interns to bring their generation's perspective to the Dish. Two of them have gone on to become under-bloggers who, with the active insistence of readers, have helped expand dramatically the number of posts and the variety of subjects. The Dish, I think, is now very different than the one-man blog it started out as.

It's a clearing house for views and ideas and videos and art and argument and anecdote and reporting that create a community of discourse. It's as much your blog now as mine. The posts from readers are just as informative and often more enlightening than my own. Yes, I'm still writing or editing or approving almost every post, but the flow of conversation increasingly leads me, rather than my directing it. As I've noted before, I'm more of a DJ now than a traditional writer. The Dish is always sampling, re-mixing and generating its own music in the interaction with others.

I don't think about this much as I do it because I just follow my nose and pursue the intimations of this medium. But every now and again, one looks up and realizes how different the landscape is and how evolved the Dish has become. I am now just one voice among many here – a voice around which others can gather and contribute, but no more than that.

And that's much more exciting than anything one blogger can pontificate about in a vacuum.

“Sullivan Group Think”

Scott Payne understands what the Dish is trying to do, and I’m grateful for his kind words. But I should say I regret nothing about my blogging about Sarah Palin last year and would do it again – with feeling – if such a duplicitous farce of an apparatchik were to be advanced as a possible leader for the US in the future. None of the crucial factual evidence for her constant fabulisms was ever provided and the MSM, as uninterested in the truth as they are eager for their own reputations, curled up into a little ball of deference. As for my use of the term Christianist, here’s my defense of the word, from 2006:

… let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism. The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque. Not all Islamists are violent. Only a tiny few are terrorists. And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

This noxious corruption of religion is still at large. Gingrich, for example, sees it as a lynchpin for the future of the Republican coalition. And it has clearly helped delegitimize Christianity in the eyes of many who might otherwise be tempted to look at the Gospels in a more open-minded fashion. The damage these fanatics and reactionaries have done to actual faith – let alone a rational politics – is incalculable, and I’m damned if I will allow them to use the word "Christian" to describe their agenda. It isn’t.

Is The Dish Recession Proof?

Maybe:

This week eMarketer, a market-research firm, predicted that online-advertising spending in America, which makes up about half the global total, will increase by 8.9% in 2009, rather than the 14.5% it had forecast in August. The firm thinks search advertising will grow by 14.9% and rich-media ads by 7.5%, whereas display ads will grow by 6.6%. In short, online advertising will continue to expand in the recession—just not as quickly as previously expected.

The Dish Gets Botoxed

And we get a fab new design to go with the new issue of the magazine (but they wouldn’t pay for a new cartoon, so you’re stuck with me and the beagles and the red-haired mystery for a while yet). This will be the last post before the new design goes up. Refresh your cache if the page seems old.

For the record, I hate redesigns, as we all do. But this redesign is one of the coolest you’ll see: a return to the style of the 1950s with a very 21st Century edge. The new issue also has a stunner of a piece by Hanna Rosin, Jeffrey Goldberg’s advice column, Fallows at his best and my first attempt to write a long-form essay about the meaning of blogging as a medium and message. The Great Michael Hirschorn too!

THE DISH RE-LOADED

I’m glad to say that in the near future, this blog will have a new home. We’re moving to Time.com’s home-page and will be hosted by their server. My invaluable business partner, Robert, who has managed all the technical and financial aspects of running a blog for over five years will be able to focus on other things; and I will continue to be able to concentrate on the writing. The blog has gotten far bigger than I originally believed possible – and much bigger than I want to handle on my own. Time.com, with all sorts of internet links, technical support and a huge potential audience, will, I hope, make this blog more accessible to more people, bring more advertizing and marketing to the site, and take the blog to a new level of exposure. We have plans to add new features to make the site more interactive and more easily read and searched. As for my new home, I’ve been a contributor to Time for a while and think the world of their editors. As for the deal, I can simply assure you that I have retained exactly the same editorial control as I have had since the beginning. This is a blog. I won’t be running posts before any editors before they appear. I will continue to write simply what I believe or think, however misguided I may be. I will continue to correct any errors in the full light of day and change my mind if new events demand it or new facts compel it. I will try and air counter-arguments as often as possible. In other words: the essence of the blog won’t change. You will still like it for the same reasons or hate it for the same reasons; or, as many of you keep telling me, both.

THE DISH AND THE MSM: As for you, you don’t have to change a thing either. If you’ve bookmarked this page, it will automatically redirect into the new page after a certain date. (Because of technical issues yet to be worked out, I don’t know the precise date yet, but I’ll keep you posted). If you haven’t bookmarked it, and want to make sure you’ll transition smoothly, just bookmark it now. This kind of deal has happened before, of course – when Mickey Kaus’s blog, kausfiles, went to Slate. He didn’t change; I won’t either. The only difference is that the blogosphere is a lot bigger now; and the distinction between the mainstream media and the blogosphere is diminishing a little. I won’t be a Time staffer; I will retain ownership of my URL – http://www.andrewsullivan.com. This is a lease, not a sale. It’s possible that at some point in the future, the blog could move again (although I certainly hope to stay at Time indefinitely). Others will perhaps be better able to describe what this kind of deal means, if anything. I like to think of it as a moment when the blogosphere and the MSM made touchdown. We’re distinct but more connected. Maybe others will follow; others still may stay where they are. Good for them. May a thousand bloggy flowers bloom. But this one will now get a real gardener to nurture it.