A Note To Our Readers, Ctd

One of countless readers asks:

OK, no more begging for site to continue, EXCEPT can you please leave the site up for those of us who want to go back to read past weekend posts? These don’t have an expiration date. My weekends are so busy that I often don’t get a chance to explore all the excellent reads. I could probably spend a year going back and reading so much of what I missed. Also, how will we know where to go next if you don’t leave the site up for us to explore the “Blog Love” list? And some of the “Threads” have great significance (suicide, abortion – these have touched lives in so many ways). I insist you leave the site up for at least a year. Please, please, please, tell us you will.

Yes, we absolutely will. We’re determined to keep the site up in perpetuity for research and just memories. It’s like one huge encyclopedia of early 21st Century videos, arguments, quotes, poems, essays and so on. It will cost a little, but we will do what’s needed. The same with refunds. We’ll be in touch by email, but you can also contact us at support@andrewsullivan.com. In one last gesture of generosity, a few of you even offered to throw some money in a final tip-jar. So we set one up here, with the help of Tinypass. Drop us an email if you do; we are determined to reply to every one in due course. We’re floored and grateful.

One last thing: If you’d like to find out what we end up doing in the future, just sign up for our mailing list here.

A Note To Our Readers, Ctd

In response to our Dish RIP post, a reader titles her email “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, Ctd”:

Ugh. I had a sliver of hope and now it’s gone.  I understand, but man, this sucks bad.  I knew there was a chance you’d go through with leaving, so I’ve been looking around at other places to look for this great balance between current events, news, opinion – and nothing.  The Atlantic maybe comes the closest (which by the way, I only heard about because of the Dish), but it’s not the same. Will definitely miss you guys. This is such a bummer.  Starting to hit me now.  Uggggh.

It’s going to be painful for us too. The withdrawal signs are already setting in. Another reader:

I’ve been reading you since the very beginning. I’ve emailed a couple of times, but really nothing worth publishing. I’m going to miss The Dish immeasurably; it’s my #1 blog!  And I suggest that there’s one more angle to the thread on suicide, i.e. Is Killing The Dish Selfish? (I ask this with tongue only partially embedded in cheek.)

Another reader on our “impending demise”:

Well, all I can say is I think you’re a bunch of pussies.

More like scrotums, as Dan would say. Another asks regarding this quick post, “The real mother of Trig is Rick Astley?” Another fell for it too:

Goddammit Sullivan. I was just about to write a nice email to wish you all the best and thank you for everything the blog has given me over the years. And then you Rickrolled me with this post. Fuck you and good riddance.

Or how another puts it:

........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...') 
..........''...\.......... _.·´ 

Heh. Another:


(I love you I love you I love you please don’t go please don’t go!)

Another confesses, “What I hate the most is what it says about me that I clicked on that Trig click-bait.” Another:

I should have known I was about to be Rick rolled. Captain Ahab was not after gold. The poor mixing of metaphors should have been a clue. Well done though. I totally fell for it.

Another asks, “Is this end of blogging just a set up for the mother of all rick rolls?!?”  Maybe if it were closer to April 1. One more reader for now:

Rick-rolled in the end. You suck. But I have to admit, I danced, and cried a little too. Really. It’s starting to sink in that Friday is the end of it all. I feel like I’m losing a brother, my online family, my home page, and one-stop shopping for almost everything that mattered. I just spent an hour visiting almost every sight on your blog reference list for a possible replacement. Nothing compares to The Dish. Damn it.

Best wishes to you all. Y’all really have no idea how much you mattered and the difference you made in my life. Please do use the list of emails you have and keep us updated. I would love to know where everyone ends up, what everyone writes, and that you are all thriving. My days will never be the same, but I’m smarter now, and glad to have been along for the ride.

You and 30,256 subscribers carried us.

A Note To Our Readers, Ctd

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.

A Note To Our Readers

Just a request for your patience as we figure out the future. And to thank you personally for the overwhelming love and support in the in-tray these last few days. I didn’t have the courage to read the avalanche of emails until yesterday, and I was blown away by your support for my decision to quit blogging and your overwhelming desire to see the Dish continue, if it can. So stay tuned. We’re figuring this out.

Could The Dish Continue Without Me?


Many, many readers have asked that core question since Wednesday’s post:

You’re just done? Everyone? Chris and Patrick and the gang aren’t holding down the domain? We could learn to love them; they seem like smart, dedicated folks. They lack your endearingly fallible, sometimes hysterical, always entertaining voice, but give them a shot, a trial run, something.

Another is more direct:

Please keep the Dish going without you. I’m in tears over the possibility of its ending. You’ve got the team, don’t you? PLEASE find a way!


You don’t owe me or other subscribers anything; you owe something to the creation that is the Dish. Keep it alive and figure out a sane way to remain involved. The community is ready to make this work.

Another notes:

Andrew, I remember you writing that you hoped that the Dish could continue and grow even if you moved on.  I truly believe it could, can and will. Please let it try. It’s too important now. It’s not just about you and your blogging; it has grown bigger than that. I believe your “baby” can survive with you occasionally helping from afar.

How another reader puts it:

Your writing drew me here. Your team kept me here.

Another makes a compelling case:

Andrew, Chris, and the gang, are you ready for the next asshole who’s going to try to convince you to keep this thing going? Maybe the stress of running a company such as this, and blogging every day, is just too much.  Maybe your staff has already landed new jobs in other places. Maybe The Dish has become a chain around Andrew’s leg. Maybe the blog has to completely die for Andrew to truly break free.

Screw that. Let’s talk about options for keeping The Dish alive and thriving.

There is a problem: Andrew needing to stop blogging (I understand and immensely respect this), and there are various solutions.  Shutting down the blog completely is only one solution. In my selfish opinion, it isn’t the best solution. This blog is an institution. It can very easily live on without Andrew. That isn’t meant as any sort of insult. It is to Andrew’s credit that he has assembled a staff as talented and competent as he has.

Is Andrew the only one who needs to temporarily/permanently cease blogging, or have the majority of you all had enough? Is the grind too much for any normal person? If Andrew needs to stop, but the rest of you have any desire to continue on with this publication, why not make it work?

How about “Andrew Sullivan, Blogger Emeritus”? He can still break free completely. I mean completely. No day-to-day responsibilities. cartoon-patrick-chrisNot even weekly or monthly. Keep the mind on writing essays or books or anything he wants. Chris, Patrick, or Jessie can step up and steer the ship. Or bring someone else in for that role.  Andrew will still own the blog, even in silence, kind of like Forbes or Bloomberg or plenty of other media entities with a founder’s name. Letting this blog die is a colossal waste of influence and talent. And you’re throwing away money that you don’t have to. I really think you can have it all.

What you’ve all built is unprecedented and cannot be replicated. I would give almost anything to have the opportunity that you have. You think you’ve reached the end of the road, but you haven’t. There are still so many possibilities, from content to contributors to engaging readers in creative ways to innovative revenue streams to strides you can and should make on the technical/design side. Don’t go work at other places. Stay here and make this website even better.

With all that said, what are the odds of being convinced to change you mind based on an email from an almost total stranger?  I’m placing in at 1/1000.  I’ll take it.

But another asks a key question:

Are you, or your team, unsure about continued subscriptions in your absence?

Yes, we have wrestled with that uncertainty for a while. One encouraging sign from a reader:

Like so many others, I will miss your voice when it leaves the blog. But if this makes you happy, I’m happy for you. And I will look forward to whatever new form your voice takes from here.

But I was also looking forward to renewing my Dish subscription. I went in for $250 last year and I was thinking $1k this year. I’ll up that to $5k if it will help your team keep the business running, even if there’s no Andrew here anymore. You can count on me to support whatever the next thing is.

Another gobsmacking gesture from a reader:

TL;DR Version: I’m renewing. Have your staff keep The Dish going. I’ll miss you when you quit blogging, but I’m still renewing at the $200/yr level.

This reader’s investment is just as meaningful:

You didn’t need to remove the “subscribe” button. I’m long-term unemployed and keeping a low profile on my “voluntary” payments. But I was going to subscribe once I got a job. Shrug. I decided that hitting the “subscribe” button was the clearest way to vote emphatically for The Dish to continue. You’ve spent 15 years building a community here and I DON’T want to see it go.  And I’ll give you a $20 vote of confidence.

So would this reader:

If all those things you said about us readers are true, then we can handle it. Turn the Dish over to us – we won’t let you down. I’ll even finally subscribe. (Sorry I’ve been an asshole.)

On the other hand, readers also have this sentiment:

If Andrew is not going to blog anymore, I do not want to continue subscribing to the Dish.  How do I opt out of auto-renewal?

Another has already backed out:

I’ve enjoyed the blog. But given changes, I’m canceling. Thanks so much for the good readings.

And another:

Please retire the Dish. I love it, but it needs to be done – hear me out.

Consider the contrasting paths of two other creative geniuses with legacies in defining an unconventional medium: Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, and Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes. Schulz allowed Peanuts to remain in syndicate after he retired, and the once-lovable icon of schlubbery, Charlie Brown, has degenerated into an overused catch phrase “Good Grief” (interestingly, in the original Peanuts Christmas Special, it’s Linus who says that line). On the other hand, Watterson took C&H with him into retirement, to the initial dismay of both fans and financially-interested parties. But time has vindicated his decision, with C&H still one of the most beloved icons in all of comicdom.

So please take the Dish with you into retirement.

Another sees both sides:

Succession is tricky. For example, Garrison Keillor has tried to leave Prairie Home Companion several times, but inevitably, the enterprise was too personality-driven to survive the transition. He’s still cranking out Saturday evening shows that are widely loved, but nothing fresh has happened at PHC for years.  There’s such a thing as loving something to death, and I’m glad that Andrew is bright and brave enough to back away before that happens to you or to us.

In the early days when Andrew took breaks, readers snarked unmercifully at the stand-ins until he returned.  That doesn’t seem to happen so often now; the quality and the accent doesn’t change as noticeably as it did on earlier Andrew holidays.  And yet … it’s hard to imagine the Dish without a big personality at its center.

So, it will be a tough transition.  But if there’s a critical mass of the staff that’s up for it, turn the fucking pay-meter back on and start a renewal drive.  You can keep me on auto-renew.  And Andrew, I look forward to seeing that new book!  Whatever you decide.

I’m a little emotionally drained right now, I have to say. Last night, I could barely sleep. I’m going to write about the amazing people I’ve worked with here at the Dish in the coming week. And our readers are absolutely right. This blog is a collective project, and has been for a very long while. Jessie, Chris and Patrick were my first three interns and they are now our top three editors, seven years later. They created the Dish in its current formulation. So did Chas, a fireball of love and energy. The Dish would be very different without Matt’s attention to the life of the soul as well as the mind; and has been immeasurably leavened by Alice’s inspired poetry selection. Jonah is simply a rock-star of intellectual fearlessness.

These people have become my family; in fact, we are family to each other. To have lived and breathed and worked and created this elixir together has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. And the family goes back to all the former interns and staffers, to our beloved Zoe, Doug, Brian, Conor, Katie and Tracy and Zack and Gwynn and Maisie and Phoebe. And, of course, it also extends to Robert Cameron, who created this blog with me in 2000, designed it, worked tirelessly for it, and built the foundation on which all this has been constructed. If you think this blog is my creation, you could not be more wrong. This is their creation as well.

And, of course, it is also yours. We’ve all been deeply moved by the wave of protest that this community not simply be disbanded. There’s an intimacy to this conversation that makes this feel less like a business decision and more like a terrible family break-up. I understand all that. I’m deeply torn about it. It takes time to process.

So give us a little space to absorb this week. As of tomorrow, we’re going back to regular blogging. And let us know if you would be prepared to give the team a chance to figure this out or if you think it’s best to leave the Dish as a 15-year adventure that helped shape the Internet conversation.

This may be the denial part of grief. Or it could be something else.

See you in the morning.

(Top photo: Current staffers after an editorial meeting last month. Left to right, that’s Jonah (international editor), Matt (literary editor), some clapped-out old bear, Chris (editor and co-owner, in charge of the in-tray and Dishness), Patrick (editor and co-owner, in charge of Dish Prep and the budget), Jessie (editor, in charge of the weekend), and Chas (managing editor, aka Special Teams). In that photo were about to head to a bar to join poetry editor Alice, former staffers Tracy and Brian, and former interns Phoebe, Brendan, Doug, Gwynn, and Katie for a Dish holiday party. Zoe lives in Toronto now, so she couldn’t make it, and former staffer Conor and former interns Maisie and Zack live in DC. But here’s a composite of everyone, past and present:


First column: Matt Sitman, Tracy Walsh, Alice Quinn, a small cartoon of Jessie Roberts (long story), Maisie Allison, Brendan James, and Dusty the Dish mascot.  Second column: Patrick Appel, Jonah Shepp, Chas Danner, Zack Beauchamp, Doug Allen, and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Third column: Chris Bodenner, Katie Zavadski, Brian Senecal, Gwynn Guilford, Zoe Di Novi, and Conor Friedersdorf.

A Blogger Breaks Free: Your Thoughts, Unfiltered

Just a reminder that the Dish has a Facebook page where you can leave any comment you like – the good, the bad, the ugly. Read all of them regarding “A Note To My Readers” here. And as always, you can tweet any praise or invective @sullydish.

How It Happened

Over a year ago, I did an interview with John Huey who was engaged in a long project at the Nieman Foundation of documenting how the Internet changed journalism. He sat me down and asked me to spell out the various stages of the Dish experiment and what I thought I was doing at the time. I forgot about it, but the Nieman Lab did a post on my quitting, and embedded two videos of the conversation and a transcript.

It’s kind of like a mega Ask Andrew Anything about the entire history of the Dish, from the very beginning. The second part of the interview is after the jump:

A Blogger Breaks Free: Blog Reax


Joe Jervis completely understands my decision to stop blogging:

Man, do I get this. Anybody who does live news blogging knows all too well the havoc this kind of work can wreak upon your personal life. Sure, there’s great freedom to be able to work wherever you are and any time. But you also have to work wherever you are and at any time. I’ve blogged from trains, planes, buses, ferries, taxis, airports, “vacation” hotel rooms, and from the backseats of cars. I’ve angered and hurt close friends by leaving parties to update a breaking story or by turning down invitations because something is about to happen. (These days those invitations often close with a tart “if you can leave your computer.”) I do love what I do, but yeah, I get you Andrew Sullivan. I’ve strongly disagreed with you on many occasions, but this, I get.

Rod Dreher can relate:

Blogging professionally is one of those jobs like being a movie critic. Everybody thinks it’s easy, until they try to do it. It’s not so much that you have to stay “on” all the time as it’s that you can’t turn it off. When Andrew says he’s burned out, I believe him. In the past four years, I’ve written two books, and am in the process of finishing co-writing a third, all the while continuing doing this blog, and other writing projects.

And I’m not complaining! I really love my job. But for reasons outside of my control, the work got incredibly intense for the last three months of the year, and I lost my health again (though I seem to be bouncing back, Deo gratias). It’s stress. I regret to say that I don’t know how to unplug digitally. I can’t stand still in a line without checking e-mail, approving blog comments, living digitally. That’s messed up.

What’s even more messed up is that I love this stuff. I really do. This is the best job I’ve ever had, and the best I can imagine having. And every time I start feeling worn out, I’ll be driving and seeing some guy busting their butts on a road crew in the Louisiana sun, and I’ll realize how easy I have it.

Ross tweets:

Peter Suderman calls me “a formative influence” on his own writing:

Sullivan modeled for me what blogging could be—curious and informative and funny and personal and detailed and reader-friendly and important and enjoyably trivial, often all at the same time—while simultaneously introducing me to a vast array of ideas and voices that I might never have otherwise encountered. …

I’ll admit I didn’t read him nearly as much over the past couple years, but I still checked in occasionally, and I was always happy to see that he was still going. I’ll miss knowing that he’s writing and arguing and linking. He was enough of a fixture that it’s almost hard to imagine the blogosphere, as it used to be called, without him around. I hope he returns every now and then to check in on the online world he helped create, and I wonder if he’ll really be able to stay away.

Steve Waldman lists seven ways in which the Dish helped create what blogging is. Two of them:

How to use a link. No, he didn’t invent the “a href,” but he was one of the first to understand that “merely” pointing to something interesting written by someone else was a service to readers, not an admission of inadequacy. And he was among the first to follow (or create) proper “netiquette” of giving attribution. It was on Sullivan’s blog that I first saw the annotation “h/t.”

The readers as experts. In the early days of the internet, there was deep suspicion and confusion about how to incorporate user input. Most media outlets decided to bring in readers through raucous commenting areas. Sullivan was one of the first to feature deep, detailed stories from his readers—stories that provided expertise either on a technical topic or a personal experience. He has viewed his readers as teachers, reporters, and collaborators. I learned as much from his “the view from your Obamacare” as most newspaper survey pieces. The “it’s so personal” thread provided textured accounts by women who’d had abortions.

Meanwhile, Alex Pareene calls bullshit on my blog exit. He points out that the “announcement comes nearly exactly ten years after the last time he announced that he was stepping away from blogging”:

blog archivesIn the month of February, 2005, following his announcement, Sullivan went on to publish 52 additional blog posts, totaling nearly 13,000 additional words. In March, 2005, he posted 47 posts, totaling 14,000 words. In April, he announced that he had “given up on [his] decisions to drastically reduce [his] blogging commitments.”Instead, he said, he’d stopped blogging in “the early hours,” though he was now getting up earlier and blogging “post-coffee in the morning.”

As you can see in the accompanying screenshot of Sullivan’s Dish archives, in the nine months following Sullivan’s 2005 announcement that he was stepping down from blogging, he updated The Dish 1,564 times.

Andrew Sullivan is not retiring from blogging.

Erik Kain wants the blog to live on:

I say, let The Dish go on, with or without Sullivan. So long as the driving ethos remains intact, there’s no reason to call it quits entirely.

Sullivan can take on an executive producer role, or simply let his name and fame remain attached to the project. Then he can bring in some of the more interesting names in online media to write in his stead—semi-permanent guest bloggers, if you will. There are so many talented writers out there, including many who disagreed vehemently with Sullivan, who he nevertheless linked to. The spotlight wasn’t only reserved for sycophants. This is an opportunity to go even further, to give a podium to many of the best thinkers and writers out there. It would be a terrible waste to call the whole thing off.

Conor Friedersdorf, a Dish alum, makes the case for continuing without me:

Perhaps The Dish could continue to render that service to rising writers and readers eager to discover them. With its eclectic history of guest-bloggers, one can imagine the site evolving into something like Saturday Night Live, with a guest host each week to put their stamp on the broadcast even as they work with a staff that keeps continuity and produces its own stars. It’s hard to overstate how much such opportunities mean to young people struggling to make it in a field where getting recognized for one’s voice and ideas isn’t guaranteed. As a writer, I won over many a longtime reader thanks to my time at The Dish. There are a dozen writers who I follow each week that I wouldn’t have discovered without it.

The community of Dish readers is another feature of the site that is worth conserving. They are a delightfully diverse group, possessed of a public-spirited willingness to share, via email, impressively informed, thoughtful perspectives on most any subject. Marijuana use as a successful adult, whether to spank children, the experience of having a late-term abortion–on those subjects and so many others, the Dish community has produced engaging collections of insight, debate, and personal narratives unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere. In attracting these correspondents and inspiring them to share their ideas across ideologies and identities, Sullivan mediated something that may well be impossible to recreate if it disappears.

Ann Althouse differs:

I’ve been going for 11 years — less than Sullivan’s 15 — but I know that blogging only works because the spirit is there. You have to thrive on the intrinsic energy of the writing itself. When the magic is gone, you can’t do it, if you really know what blogging is. If you bring other people in to do it for you, then it’s not your blog anymore. Maybe those other people — and Sullivan had brought in other people — can take off and become real bloggers in their own right, but if they’re keeping “your” blog going and your spirit of blogging is depleted, it’s over, and in the name of The Spirit of True Blogging, you should face that fact, stop, and move on into a life that does have intrinsic meaning for you.

Alyssa Rosenberg contemplates the current state of blogging:

The subject of burnout frequently comes up when people talk about changes in blogging. But for me – and I suspect for entrepreneurs like those building Vox – some of these shifts in pace and style are also a pace of the way people read. I expect a lot of you come in through social media, and maybe don’t read me regularly at all (though if you decide to stick around, I run a dandy chat every Monday).

Bloggers these days have to speak to our loyal readers, and there are many of you who have been kind enough to come with me from outlet to outlet. But when we become part of larger outlets, that means we can’t speak to you alone anymore. Sullivan had an enormous reach, but the Dish still felt like it was very much written for a specific group of readers who were a known quantity. That’s a quality I think might be passing from the scene, and the conversation will be different for it.

Chris Taylor likewise feels that “personal blogging for a mass audience has pretty much gone the way of the dodo”:

These days, if you have something to say and it won’t fit in a single tweet (or a tweetstorm), you have so many more compelling options than blogging. You can post on Facebook if it’s just for friends, or Tumblr if it’s image-based, or on Medium if you want a think piece shared more widely, or LinkedIn, or any one of a hundred other sites and services that are thirsty for content.

About the last thing you’d do is willingly maintain your own site, especially not in an age where your readers are as likely to be on phones or tablets as desktop browsers. Who still does that kind of one-man operation? It’s hard to bring successful examples to mind that aren’t speaking to a very niche audience — such as John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, an extremely minimalist site that looms large in the world of Apple fandom.

Dylan Byers, for one, declares blogging dead:

Sullivan was able to keep blogging alive (and lucrative) long after the era of blogs had come to an end — at The Atlantic, at The Daily Beast, and, in recent years, through the funding of readers. It’s also true that Sullivan’s influence has waned of late. While there is still some demand for Sullivan’s outspokenness — he’s at his best when he’s arguing, aggressively — there is far less demand for unspecialized aggregation. If you scroll down from Sullivan’s latest post, there’s a reader-submitted photograph, then a pull from a Slate article about flip-flopping, then a pull from a Time article about marijuana legalization. This is vintage Sullivan, but it flies in the face of all conventional wisdom about what makes media sites work: namely, specialization and original content.

Chris Cillizza counters:

The idea inherent in all of the death knells for blogging is that blogging is any one thing. It’s not. As I explain to anyone who will listen to me  an ever-shrinking populace  a “blog” is simply a publishing medium. It’s a way to put content on the Internet  usually a fast and, relatively, user-friendly way. But, the conflating a publishing medium with a sort of online writing  opinionated, snarky  that tends to be the preferred approach of many of its users is a mistake. …

For me, the idea of a blog — or blogging  that works is reported analysis told through a variety of textual and visual mediums. You could call them  as newspapers tend to do  “analysis” pieces and run them as articles. You could call them— as the graphics world does  data visualizations and run them as infographics. The bigger point is: It’s journalism, on the Web. It doesn’t matter what word you ascribe to it.

Adam Tinworth is on the same page:

The one thing that this isn’t is any sign of the “death of blogging”. You only have to glance a Tumblr and the growth in fashion blogging and the explosion of Medium and all the rest of it to see that, as Kevin Marks wrote in 2008, blogging is like air.

Or, to put it another way, blogging won. Everything from your Facebook newsfeed to a Pinterest board has something of the characteristics of the medium. Blogging is so deeply entwined with the web itself that we don’t even really need the word any more.

Ben Smith gets nostalgic for the good old days:

Andrew spent parts of the last few years raging against advertising and pressing ahead with a subscription model that could only work with the most devoted audience on the web — and perhaps not even then. I felt an old loyalty to him — as a reader who started hitting refresh compulsively right after 9/11, when I was reporting in Kiev and he was a lifeline to the American conversation — that prevented me from ever really getting worked up about his attacks on us. And indeed, I’ll still miss that feeling of seeing a stream of links to andrewsullivan.com pop up in my SiteMeter, and knowing that my polite, tentative email had won me coveted access to his loyal, thoughtful, old-school blog readers.

PM Carpenter is similarly thankful for the readers we sent him over the years:

I have heard from many of you that you found my site through The Dish, and I must say what’s unique about that is rarely do such major sites acknowledge the small ones. Sullivan and his staff never played the insider-bloggers’ “club” game; if they found a piece interesting or worthy of note, they noted it, and it made no difference that its author was not of national notoriety. That helped my overall readership a great deal, it was damned refreshing, wonderfully democratic, and just plain decent of them.

Jonathan Bernstein shares that sentiment:

I’ll miss his voice and, more importantly, his central contribution to the cooperative, rigorous, fascinating culture of blogging. As I said on Twitter yesterday, without Sullivan, political scientists would still only be heard from when they were willing to supply the exact quote that a reporter wanted to support a story. Sullivan’s support for political science bloggers was early, and it was decisive. On a personal level, I owe him more thanks than I can ever express for his support, beginning very early in my blogging career.

Dan Drezner wishes me well:

Andrew explains his desire to return to more introspective work, which I completely understand. Over the years, the pressure of instant commentary caused Sullivan to overreach on occasion in his blog posts – a fact that he acknowledged, which makes him unlike an awful lot of the bloggers who followed in his wake.

I do hope, however, that Andrew doesn’t leave his passion behind with the blog. Sullivan’s rhetorical style was perfectly suited for the blogosphere. Unlike 99.9 percent of the political writers on this planet, Sullivan wrote best when he wrote with passion. More than most, he was able to channel strong emotions into erudite real-time prose.

Hemant Mehta reflects on the debt he owes the Dish:

I’ve learned a ton from him over the years just by watching him go independent (and remain financially stable), shut off comments (while still giving readers a chance to contribute to the conversation), give voice to those who disagree with him, change his mind publicly on a variety of things, put his emotions into writing even if he may later regret it, and cultivate a staff that can seamlessly run the site even when he’s on a break.

None of that is easy to do, and he’s done it brilliantly. I know my own style has been influenced by his work more so than just about any blogger out there.

And James Poulos is looking forward to what comes next:

Andrew’s combative, omnivorous mind is built to blog, but his heart has long beaten with a melancholy that the internet seems built to crowd far out of view. Like any student of Oakeshott, he knows that even small stretches of repose can open onto big, hidden vistas. I look forward to reading Andrew, so to speak, by the fire and off the clock.

(Photo by Judit Klein)

A Blogger Breaks Free: Your Thoughts


We’re still processing your emails. I couldn’t look at the in-tray yesterday. But today, I ventured in and am still reeling from the range and depth and sincerity of so many of you. These are a first batch of immediate reactions (more to come). A reader writes:


Another reader:

Denial: Ha ha, very funny Andrew.  Early April Fools!  Got me there for a second.  Probably just another vacation or sick leave.  Yeah, gotta recharge those batteries, right.  The staff will step in.  Or some great guest bloggers.  They always do a great job.

Anger:  Wait, what?  Seriously?  Shit.  Fuck!  I mean … FUCK!

Bargaining:  But you’ll stay on as editor, right?  For the new Dish staff run group blog / new model internet magazine?  I’ll increase my subscription!  What do you need to make it work?  $50?  $100?  Seriously, you gotta stick around.  You can totally make it work as executive editor.  Even as just a figure head!  The staff is great!  You wouldn’t want them to lose their jobs, would you?  Take a break, however long you need – two weeks, a month, whatever – and get back to us.  Whatever you need buddy; we’re here for you.  We can get through it together.

Depression:  Well, that’s it then.  The Internet is dead to me.

Acceptance:  *sob* We love you, Andrew, and we don’t want your last blog post to be a long string of “jjjjjjjjjjjjjjj” after you die face down on the keyboard.  Be free!  We your readers release you, our wild bear kept too long captive for our own amusement.  Go!  Perhaps in some distant happy day we will spy you from a distance in your natural habitat, frolicking on the beaches of Cape Cod, or stalking the dark alleys of D.C.  Then we will know that it was the right thing to do – that we could only truly love you by letting you go.


I’ve heard of getting dumped by phone, by email, even by text … but getting dumped by blog?!?

Yes, it felt like a break-up. Another possible headline for that post would have been “It’s not you; it’s me.”

Another reader:

Oh, shit! Are you sure you’re not just being hysterical again?

It’s been a long time in the making. Another reader gets vivid:

I won’t pretend this hasn’t hit me like a bag of hammers to the essentials.


Holy crap Andrew, I need a drink.

We had many last night. Another reader:

But . . . but . . . but . . .

I just bought a fucking mug!!!

One of our longest-running and daily critics from the in-tray:

I am shocked and horrified!  Don’t do this … find a way …

Another remembers the last time I tried to stop:

Andrew quits blogging?  I hope the Pope’s doctors are on alert.


I’m sorry I took you for granted. It never crossed my mind when you would stop blogging. It’s just that you have always been there. Good days, bad days and everything in between. I’m really at a loss for words.


First Colbert and now the Dish? I am not sure what I’m going to do at work now.


I totally get this.  In fact, in the last few weeks, I haven’t been reading The Dish as ardently as before.  It wasn’t “you”.  I was feeling the stress of the 24-hour news cycle myself.


Betrayed. That’s what I feel. I know it’s not fair and I don’t really understand it, but that’s the best word I have right now.

Maybe it’s because I was a subscriber, or maybe it’s because I’ve read and shared your articles for so long. But it’s like a piece of the internet is being taken out and now the whole is somehow much less. I had hoped I was supporting a new way of doing business, a way to be free of all the ads. But I guess the ads will win after all.

Another also fears the ads:

I just want the record to show that I would happily maintain my current subscription indefinitely for a single article a month from you, or any variation on such a theme that helped you do what you love and not kill yourself in the process. The Dish is not about maximizing content for me, but about smart, honest, opinionated journalism uninfected by the corrosive virus of advertising.

And you already know this. But it is also about love. It is about your ability to be not just a journalist, writer and opinionated public figure, but your ability to be a person just behind the screen of the blog – flawed, struggling, self-questioning, and occasionally a little bit heroic – for whom I can’t be the first to have professed a kind of love.

Go do your best, and let us know where that will be. We’ll follow.

Another won’t:

I got to your final post as a mistake, but once there I did read your final tripe. Wow you wasted 15 years of your life on that? You will have trouble living in the real world, which is a far cry from the bubble you have lived in. Don’t respond back, as I have no interest.

A different view:

Chatham, N.H.-12pm

Chatham, New Hampshire, 12 pm

A first-timer:

We’ve never met and I’ve never written in. I’m the ultimate Dish lurker: I go on multiple times a day and love all the different insights from readers/guest bloggers/Andrew/the team in general, but never felt like I had the requisite expertise or a unique-enough perspective to write in and improve the conversation. But today I realized I’ve been with this community long enough (just two years, which is far from the decades under other readers’ belts) to send a simple but genuine message to the Dish inbox: thanks.

Thanks back. More from you soon. Stay tuned.

Correction Of The Day

A reader calls out Paul Farhi:

I’m sure you’ve got a flood of email coming in today. I just wanted to let you know that your readers are looking out for Dusty’s memory. See the attached email from WaPo media reporter Paul Farhi promising to correct his article that defamed her. I took a screenshot for the record:


No hard feelings, Paul. After all, I got my other dog wrong myself.