In addition to being the most frequent guest on the recently shuttered Colbert Report, Andrew Sullivan has been (in no particular order): 27-year-old editor of the New Republic, Iraq war apologist, gay marriage crusader, scourge of sponsored content, Sarah Palin nemesis, Pope Francis cheerleader, essential daily reading for me. To call his decision earlier this year to shut down the Daily Dish blog, “traumatic,” is an overwhelming understatement from my perspective.
While much has been written about the larger significance of Sullivan’s departure, (Bill Finnegan’s piece in the New Yorker is one good example and Ezra Klein’s in Vox is another), I wanted to look at a couple of points raised by these authors in a bit more detail.
Finnegan points out that “The Dish was a singularity, in that it was a freestanding business, basically selling just a distinctive, unedited voice—Sullivan’s.” As a reader, the knowledge that a specific, independent, erudite and most of all prolific sensibility and voice was available to engage with and react to more than justified the subscription fee. The Dish occupied, defined and navigated the space between a magazine and message board; put another way, it embodied in the best way a compromise between an exercise in journalism and a conversation.
Which brings me to Klein’s take that “…blogging is a conversation, and conversations don’t go viral.” I think this is an extremely astute observation of the current state of online culture (especially in the political space), in that much of the nuance and depth that characterizes a good conversation is naturally excluded from content that must instantly capture the attention of as large an audience as possible. While it’s undoubtedly true that more types of content are freer to flourish and finding an audience theoretically is easier than ever before, I am wondering to what extent satisfying fickle audience demands is becoming increasingly economically untenable for single-voice projects like the Dish? Or did the notoriously mercurial Andrew just get tired of this particular project?
In any case, I am kind of sadly casting about looking for alternative places to find the type of analysis, curation and community I’ve lost with the demise of the Daily Dish, so any suggestions would be especially welcome in these dark days. I’m definitely going to miss the random Rick-roll.
Photo uploaded to Flickr by Dan Correia, some rights reserved