Even Lew Rockwell is having money problems (see here).
That says a lot.
And it’s not good.
I’ve posted here about my problems, which are similar. I am not alone. The financial strangulation of contrarian web sites such as LRC and EPautos (and many others) is a pervasive problem that’s getting worse. And it is getting worse because Internet advertising has become a virtual company town, with Googuhl the owner of said town.
Probably 90 percent of online advertising is not direct, a deal between the publisher/owner of a web site and the advertiser, but indirect, through Googuhl or a Googuhl emulator that pays only for “clicks” rather than the space/visibility. The payment per “click” is based on Googuhl’s secret internal formula, which we know is to some extent based on how highly (or not) Googuhl “ranks” a given web site.
This reduces the potential income of online advertising to almost nil. Or at least, an amount that’s so low it makes it very difficult to meet even basic expenses such as servers (you need heavy-duty servers, with back-up, when you have a lot of traffic; we are not talking about $50/month “blog” servers) and forget paying contributors or staff.
I posted the other day about this site’s traffic. According to Quantcast, about a quarter-million people read EPautos each month. Lew’s traffic is several times higher. In pre-Internet/print media terms, each site has the equivalent audience of a successful national magazine, or at least that of a medium-sized city’s daily newspaper.
As many of you already know, I used to work as an editorial writer and columnist at The Washington Times, back in the ’90s. I was a salaried employee, along with an entire editorial page staff of writers, editors, copy editors and graphic designers, plus an entire newsroom of reporters and support staff. The Times never had more than about 150,000 paid subscribers. Fewer people read The Times than read EPautos. Yet The Times could afford to pay for an entire newsroom/editorial page staff.
Because advertising paid.
Which is a very effective way to stifle contrarian news/opinion without overt censorship. They have become infinitely more clever than that. Simply destroy your adversaries’ ability to make a living and they will all go away. No need to outlaw LRC or EPautos.
Just put ’em in the poorhouse.
What Lew did not mention in the article I linked to at the top of this rant is that the weapon being used against us is the narcotic of freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
I have mentioned it numerous times – and figure now’s a good time to to mention it again. Googuhl’s strangulation tactics depend on the majority of readers electing not to support sites such as Lew’s and mine. If they did support LRC and EPautos and other such sites, Googuhl’s power would be smashed at a stroke.
And that is the key to everything.
Our ability to reach an ever-wider audience, to put Libertarian ideas before people who’ve probably never encountered them before, would be infinitely greater. The debate might actually shift from left-right/blue-red to something different.
But as long as Googuhl controls the company town, sites like LRC and this site are in perpetual peril of going under and even if we manage to survive another month and gimp into the next one, our effectiveness is greatly reduced.
It’s all so sad – because so not necessary.
If even 10 percent of Lew’s audience and this site’s audience tossed in $5 or so a month, the Internet company town would become what it was supposed to be: An agora of ideas, with the best ideas taking pride of place. Instead, we have – for the most part – the same old ideas. Because – notwithstanding the demise of MSM print media – MSM online media has both the support of Googuhl as well as the support of the same entities (the cartel capitalist power brokers) as before.
I will give you an example – and share some inside baseball.
Most of you have probably heard of The Huffington Post. It is one of the biggest online gorillas. And why? It is not because of the sparkling brilliance of the writings you’ll find there – which for the most part are as predictable as Pravda during the Brezhnev years and not even clever on top of that. Yet HuffPost is huge. Can afford a staff.
Because Arianna Huffington, the Zsa Zsa Gabor of the MSM, is extremely rich and well-connected. She became a “writer” using this money, which she did not earn but rather was awarded in her divorce settlement from Michael Huffington, her extremely wealthy ex.
Arianna was – still is, in my opinion – a socialite. So why is she now a famous columnist and pundit?
When I worked at The Times back in the ’90s, we all of a sudden began to receive submissions from this person. Who had no more standing or competence to offer an opinion than any other hausfrau – and whose opinions were expressed poorly, at about the level of a typical American high school sophomore. Much re-writing was necessary. I ventured to ask why we were bending over backwards to accommodate this Arianna person, to make space for her dreck on the editorial page. To give her space rather than to an actually deserving (but not rich/connected) writer who’d written something worth reading.
The answer was, simply put, that powerful interests (i.e., money) wanted her byline in print. So we were obliged to publish her (after re-writing her) and the rest is history. Arianna is now a national level talking head and famous pundit and she is both of those things because she and those backing her had the means to vanity-press her to national prominence. Having achieved national prominence this way, it is assumed it was achieved on the merits. I assure you, this is not the case. Read her stuff yourself and see. Better yet, read her stuff before it gets re-written. Probably by someone who is being paid nothing or next to nothing.
Anyhow, this is what we – Lew and I and other Libertarians who are trying to upend the coercive collectivist applecart – are up against. The truth is we can’t do it without your support. When you have a quarter-million people visiting your site (or millions, as in the case of LRC) and you still can’t meet even basic expenses via advertising, you have a serious problem. Precisely the problem Googuhl intended.
So, it’s up to you guys. If you want Lew to survive, if you want EPautos to survive, don’t assume we will survive. That what you are reading today will still be here tomorrow. That things are ok, that someone else tossed in a few bucks. Each of us, in our everyday lives, exchanges value for value. We gladly pay $1.50 for a good cup of coffee; do not expect the coffee to just be there – much less just take it because it is there.
If you value LRC, if you value EPautos (and other such) then please support what we’re trying to do. It doesn’t take much, individually. But it does take each of you, as an individual, deciding to support what you think is worth supporting.
Will you help us?
Our donate button is here.
If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:
721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079
PS: EPautos stickers are free to those who sign up for a $5 or more monthly recurring donation to support EPautos, or for a one-time donation of $10 or more. (Please be sure to tell us you want a sticker – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)