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      (Previous: Economy) (Introduction and Table of Contents) We have seen that who gets how much of what is a political decision: that the economy and economics is downstream from politics. Power is the ability to make people do what you want, or not do what you don’t want. Ideology determines what the good life is and power determines who lives it. All politica […]
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Money Changes Everything- Brainstorming Session I

Hi guys, today is going to be a light posting day for me. The BFF’s birthday is coming up and I will be in Manhattan all day doing Broadway with him and “Brook”, the adolescent creature person. But in the meantime, I have a little proposition for you.

If youre like me, you watched the unravelling of the Big Orange Satan with great dismay. TPM jumped the rational shark recently. And Keith Olbermann turned into his own worst enemy. It’s my theory that money is at the root of these evils. All three of these operations are driven by advertising dollars. (Well, not DailyKos anymore, apparently)

Now, I’m not saying that money is bad or that we shouldn’t desire wealth especially if we’ve worked hard to earn it. No, what I’m saying is that when there is an incentive to make money, the behaviors and activities that generate money will tend to influence one’s preferences and tastes. I think that is what we are seeing here. For sure it is what drives MSNBC. Jack Welch was a formidable salesman and created the Rank and Yank performance review. In The Smartest Guys in the Room about the Enron scandal, you’ll see what happens to the corporate culture where this kind of attitude thrives. The business environment is nasty, brutish and short if you don’t rake in the bucks and super rewarding if you do. It’s an all or nothing thing. I always suspected that Keith Olbermann’s liberal passion was ephemeral. The minute ad revenue sags, he’s on his way out and when Obamamania hit, Welch must have seen a twofer- get rid of Hillary the Monster and pump up the bucks with Keith going nuts for Barry.

As long as there is money in the system, my friends, our free speech and ability to get our message out will be subject to market forces. Those who own the biggest microphones will be able to shout dissenters down and put our voices on mute.

When I first started this blog, I said I was looking for collaborators and one reader asked me in a private email what exactly I had in mind? I’m not sure yet. Let’s face it, if you want to create a safe place for political voices to go on the internet and you want it to be big enough to make an impact (and believe me, I’m not at all into quitting my full time job to do this for a living), money is a necessity. But money is a trap that keeps us tethered to our audience too tightly.

So, what is the best business model for Progressive Blogosphere 2.0? I think the closest model to what I think we might want to go with is a National Public Radio or Public Broadcasting System model. There would be one umbrella organization where a variety of political blogs could co-exist and the system would be funded by pledged contributions. I realize that even NPR and PBS has been tainted in recent years but it took longer for the rot to reach them and it ddn’t happen until their boards of directors were infiltrated by ideological Republicans. So, if we had such an umbrella organization, how would we set up our board of directors? And as for money, well, I do this blogging thing for free but I could imagine wanting to get a little filthy lucre when the private school tuition bills start to roll in. But how would one structure renumeration in order to minimize market forces so that even potentially unpopular voices have a chance to be heard?

That is the task I put before you today. Answer the following questions:

  1. Is there a need for an umbrella group for Progressive Blogosphere 2.0?
  2. How should it be structured?
  3. How do we compensate bloggers for their work without succombing to the stifling forces of the free market?

Have at it.  I am off to brave the madness of the NJ Transit- NYC subway system.

23 Responses

  1. Good to know that money isn’t an issue for Kos. I have a feeling that Feb. isn’t an abberation on his spreadsheet, and that his current financial trend will continue. A lot of longtime members seem to have decreased their dKos time, or left completely. Pretty soon all he’s going to have left are his Democrat-for-a-day Obama supporters. I don’t see them sticking around if Obama doesn’t get the nomination.

  2. I think the structrue of ActBlue would be good – not the legal structure (PAC) but the ability to donate an aggregate amount and then check off the blogs you would like to receive your donation and the proportion.

    Like many people, I read a lot of blogs but I can’t afford hefty or even respectable amounts to support each one. So I haven’t donated. I think there must be a lot of people like me and the blogs are not getting that money.

    By making it easy for people to donate once and have it apply to many different blogs would be good for the donors and the blogs.

  3. The ad financing structure is fine right now, but there has to be supplemental financing to limit or reverse any negative influences the ad financing structure has.

    I do like that ActBlue idea that hells kitchen mentioned, and that could be one supplemental financing mechanism. A non-profit supported by donations from (probably) deep pocketed patrons might be good too. George Soros has tons of money and he has responded well in the past, but you need someone in the rich people circles for them to pony up. The non-profit can also be partly funded by regular people too.

    I think PBS/NPR financing structure has a baseline government funding and the rest of the funding comes from pledges.

    Oh and Kos has to get his site under control. What is he going to do if Hillary is the nominee after all that bashing? Either there will be a crash over there with Obama supporters losing interest and Hillary supporters continuing to stay away or there will be a big Kumbaya moment (and hopefully an apology).

  4. First, a cartoon from Mr. Fish at Harper’s–think it comes out of Samantha Power’s “monster” comment. Well drawn, but, uh, what do you think of it?


    Second, I donate to anitwar.com bcz they’re out there all the time, 24/7 aggregating articles about war in our world. They’re libertarian, and I don’t agree with everything, but I appreciate what they do. I mail them a check so they every cent of my wee donation.

    I have limited funds–and I just received my health insurance increase. 25%!

    Yes, twenty five per cent increase. For any individual coverage similar to mine in the state of NJ–from Aetna.

    I’m now breaking the $1500/month barrier–and have to hold out three more years until I can get Medicare. I have thyroid cancer which can be managed, but I have it (for slighlty over 2 years now) and I must have twice a year expensive monitoring and tests (radioactice iodine imaging, ultrasounds, MRI’s, possibly CRT’s, and, if the markers indicate new cancer, I’ll have to go to one of only 6 hospitals in the US which handle my type of the cancer treatment–all of which are out of my coverage area and will have to be fought for, even Sloane Kettering in NYC, 30 miles away).

    I was going to change health insurance carriers when this was discovered–now I can’t change carriers, I can’t even move out of their coverage area, or I won’t be covered. Until Medicare. (Yes, health coverage is pesonal for me!)

    So, it’s is hard to donate to every blog which I find worth reading.

    I like the Act Blue idea–donate and maybe just a little goes to each one checked off, but the amounts would aggregate to be helpful to each blog.

  5. I was always under the impression that a lot of bloggers were using their blog as a resume or portfolio for a step up into the MSM. I still today see a lot fo bloggers controlling their sites so they can get on teevee or wherever. i dont have a problem with it – I just move on if I am uncomfortable. They have a right to try to “sell out” and make money. If they want to stay pure and true to their core vales, they might need to get a day job.

    Jack aint at GE anymore, showing that the power of the corporation goes beyond just one guy.

  6. I’ve never understood how blogs make money. I’ve never wanted to pay subscription fees for access to a blog, and I’ve contributed only in special circumstances (for example, when FDL was covering the Libby trial). And I very rarely click on the ads.

    I guess I am an internet free-loader. How do you get people who are used to free-loading, as I and most others are, to pay for access to a site?

  7. litigatormom: You need to have thousands if not millions of visitors each day to make a living off of your blog. One of the most successful bloggers is Perez Hilton. I think he gets at least several million hits each day so advertisors pay him thousands of dollars just to advertise a movie or product on his website. This shows you the rates of how much you have to pay to buy ad space on the top celebrity and gossip sites on the internet: http://web.blogads.com/advertise/gossip_blogs
    I usually don’t click on the ads but once in a while I do. Perez still makes a ton even if only half of his visitors click on one ad each day.
    You can also go to this website: http://www.alexa.com/ to see the traffic details of any website.

  8. Hey, at Corrente we say Fuck!

    That’s our guarantee of quality to you that (a) our content is not corporate, and (b) if the blog ever serves as a portfolio, it’s going to be at the right kind of place.

  9. Hey Lambert!

    Corrente is one of my favorite blogs.

    I have never seen so many creative, witty and SHRILL bloggers gathered on the same place.

  10. litergatormom – they make their money with ads – the more views a blog has the more attractive to advertisers. So if Obama-love gets you more reads you may be tempted to keep doing it to attract advertisers. Of course, other people are in it for the good conversation with likeminded people.

    hey corrente – smile while you say that! 🙂

  11. off topic:

    Check out this issue of Newsweek. It’s good. Lots of Hillary.

    Tina Brown: http://www.newsweek.com/id/120064

    Press and Hillary: http://www.newsweek.com/id/120068

    and Anna Quindlen:

  12. Add Air america radio to the Keith Oldbermann list for how they have changed for money and for why many are turning away from their being a part of BO’s campaign.

    “Finally it seems people are realizing that Barack Obama [BO] is an empty suit with a megaphoneyed preacher’s voice. Many voters woke up and got turned off by his Johnny-one-note calls for change without specifics. Style, yes – substance, no.” – from Icarus Redux


  13. Yes, absolutely there should be an umbrella organization. I’ve been advocating it for years. The latest version of my proposal is at the link below.

    Anyone interested in helping to make it happen, please get in touch with me at caro-at-makethemaccountable-dot-com

    Carolyn Kay

  14. sorry, but I couldnt care less what Icarus redux says
    (doesnt that mean he is going to blow up again?)
    Obama has a great speaking voice and is a wonderful orator. To deny that makes one look foolish.

    and no, I am not for any umbrella organization or any paid subscription to read people’s opinions. I wont pay for it in the NY Times online and I wont pay a blog. It flies in the face of what this is all supposed to be – a level playing field of opinion sharing…not just for those who have cash.

  15. Judith: It would be great if we could all do this for free but there comes a point in every successful blog’s life when its readership exceeds its capacity to post without incurring significant charges in hardware and administration.
    We’ve seen the perils of letting the privately owned blogs with ads run the show. They were very successful at shutting Clinton people up and forcing them into obscurity. All I’m saying is that there *might* be some benefit to joining together and sharing the resources so that never happens again.
    We could offer you a free tote bag or coffee mug. 🙂

  16. I just saw this post on Taylor Marsh:


    Announcing the EENR Blog
    In light of TM’s recent diary which included a quote by Riverdaughter about the increasing exodus of Kossacks from the Daily Kos, I am writing to introduce a new blog: EENR blog.

    It is another home for Edwards Democrats, progressive activists, and all interested in discussions to further a progressive populist agenda, with a side of fun of course!

    Commerical-free, but somewhat patterned somewhat after the Docudharma blog, EENR is managed strictly by volunteers; we hope you will like being part of that community. We’ve tried to set standards for discussion that reflect our desire for open communication, the search for truth, and that wonderful lesson we all learned in kindergarten, “Play Nice and Share Your Toys.” There are lots of toys, too. There’s a wonderful video wall, lots of diaries already there waiting for your comments, links to a mirror of the JRE campaign website, and much more. We have open threads, blog round-ups, and “Second Peeks”–which is a like a diary rescue, “Twilight” which is rant and rave for light nighters, and on Sundays, we will have “Sunday Leftovers” (debuting tonight). EENR also has 12 topics on the left side for bloggers to click and start their own diaries.

    EENR invites special guest bloggers. Already, Larry Kissell (NC-08 candidate) has made a post, and so have Turkana from The Left Coaster as well as Tula Connell from FDL. We have other progressive candidates who have stopped by.

    You’re all welcome to stop by. But understand, EENR is not partisan to one of the remaining candidates as the nearly bloggers who have signed up have said they will support the eventually nominee. We discourage targeted diaries about either Obama or Clinton as we are more focused on progressive issues and ideas. The 375+ progressives who have joined us want their voices to be heard about their issues.

    We also try not to engage in Kos bashing, but at the moment, we encourage folks to introduce themselves in their individual diaries, and frankly, they mention how the Daily Kos is no longer welcoming for them during the primary season.

    Trust user status is given automatically, and we strongly discourage using troll ratings in order to keep the place nice and clean.

    We have many Clinton supporters, as well as some Obama supporters, who are finding their way towards EENR (and as Confluence has done, except again, we do not slant toward either Clinton or Obama).

    Anyway, we’ve up and running for less than two weeks. Drop by if you like.

  17. DV: I put EENR in my blogroll a couple of days ago. I think what they’re doing is admirable but it’s not exactly what i was thinking about. There is a place for advocacy. This is a pro-Hillary blog right now because it is important to me and others that her supporters have a place in the left blogosphere. And she happens to be the best candidate in the most important election of our lifetime.
    What I am asking about is whether we need a place for blogs like EENR and The Confluence and Anglachel’s diary where we reach an economy of scale and visibility without the compromising influence of advertising?

  18. I believe GE (NBC- parent) does have defense contracts, therefore, I assume they would want a republican administration in power.

  19. Hi riverdaughter –

    I meant no disrespect to you personally.

    But it strikes me as par for the course. Sort of like being able to get your book self-published.

    I hope it works out for you. But you have a job so you’ll be ok 🙂

  20. Judith: It has nothing to do with a vanity press. It has to do with building a presence so another DailyKos debacle doesn’t happen again.

  21. You can earn a revenu by blogging with some affiliate programs

  22. I never went to Kos to read what Kos had to say. I went to read content people created for Kos FOR FREE to put money in his pocket — free content created by people who are smarter than David Brooks but don’t want to be professional ‘pundits.’ 2 years ago, you’d find better writing on Kos than in NYT or TNR — writing Kos didn’t pay for. Now, sadly, Kos is just a brand name.

    So I try to be selective where I post, even comments, because we’re all creating content for free. When all that free content gets aggregated–on Kos, Youtube, Myspace, wherever, it makes them money. Everybody is trying to aggregate and cash in on free user-generated content.

    Links, too. In-bound links drive sites up on google. So if I have to link to something just to point out how bad it is, I use the ‘NO FOLLOW’ tag. (Another Site). Otherwise, googlebot reads my link as a vote of approval for the stinky site. I don’t know whether Technorati counts ‘no follow’ links towards a blog’s authority.

  23. Sorry, I meant to spell out the html for the ‘no follow’ tag. (a hrf=”wwwanothersitecom” rel=”nofollow”)Another Site(/a)

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