As of Feb. 1, the blog will live at andrewsullivan.com without any ads, sponsors or investment backing. Just Sullivan and a couple of colleagues blogging — and hopefully, readers paying. Sullivan is asking for $19.99 a year to subscribe (“around a nickel a day”).
Sullivan calls it “the purest, simplest model for online journalism: you, us, and a meter. Period. No corporate ownership, no advertising demands, no pressure for pageviews … just a concept designed to make your reading experience as good as possible, and to lead us not into temptation.”
The metered model, to be administered by TinyPass, allows a yet-unspecified number of free reads per month, with exemptions for any visitor following a link from another blog. “No blogger or writer need ever worry that a link to us will push their readers into a paywall,” Sullivan writes.
He hopes this will pave the way for other writers:
If this model works, we’ll have proof of principle that a small group of writers and editors can be paid directly by readers, and that an independent site, if tended to diligently, can grow an audience large enough to sustain it indefinitely.
The point of doing this as simply and as purely as possible is precisely to forge a path other smaller blogs and sites can follow. We believe in a bottom-up Internet, which allows a thousand flowers to bloom, rather than a corporate-dominated web where the promise of a free space becomes co-opted by large and powerful institutions and intrusive advertising algorithms. We want to help build a new media environment that is not solely about advertising or profit above everything, but that is dedicated first to content and quality.
It’s definitely a move to watch. Sullivan is one of the pioneers of blogging; he has shaped the form and built an engaged community of readers. Many other media figures are expressing support and hope, but no one knows how this will go. Here’s a sampling of reaction:
Have been reading @sullydish in blog form since 2000. Where do I hit the “subscribe” button?
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) January 2, 2013
— Ken Sweet (@kensweet) January 2, 2013
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 2, 2013