The Right Online Need To Hang Together Or We Will All Hang Separately
Over the last few days, there have been a couple of posts that, in my humble opinion, influential and deep pocketed conservatives/Republicans would be wise to heed.
The first was written by Danny Glover over at Accuracy in Media and was, happily, partially inspired by something I said even though Danny didn’t totally agree with my perspective.
Here’s the crux of it,
I made a similar point in a Facebook discussion with John Hawkins of Right Wings News last night. John had suggested that Republicans need a Washington-focused, Politico-style journalism publication of their own, to which I replied:
Why would the GOP need that? There are enough center-right online publications already, and a GOPolitico isn’t going to accomplish anything new.
The problem with conservative political media isn’t that it doesn’t exist but that too many publications are trying to do the same thing — and few of them are consistently good at it. Ironically, the inherent entrepreneurial nature of conservatives is an obstacle to media success because every conservative who cares and has the finances to make a go of it wants to launch THE publication that makes it big.
The key is to get the best conservative media minds working together rather than competing against each other.
John elaborated by saying that conservatives need an “online zine with the resources to do heavy Capitol Hill reporting,” and that’s true. But when it comes to journalism, conservatives are too independent for their own good.
Conservative readers can get their news fixes at Cybercast News Service, Human Events, Newsmax, Townhall and WorldNetDaily (and probably others I’m forgetting). More traditional conservative publications like American Spectator, National Review and The Weekly Standard have bolstered their daily online presences in recent years. And in the past few weeks, Fox News and The Washington Times have added their own right-leaning online operations, TheConservatives.com and The Fox Nation.
There are multiple conservative video voices online, too. Pajamas TV, which is targeting the conservative-libertarian market, has been making a big publicity push since last year’s Republican convention. It sponsored the Conservatism 2.0 side conference at February’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and has been covering the anti-tax “tea parties” the mainstream media have been ignoring. Breitbart TV also will cover the tea parties all day on April 15, the deadline for filing federal income taxes.
Besides those better-known operations, conservatives have two active video-sharing sites, Eyeblast.tv (I served as its executive producer last year) and New Media Alliance Television, and one inactive site, Qube TV. John also launched the blog Right-Wing Video in January to serve as a portal to videos on YouTube and other sites.
All of those conservative journalistic efforts may have merit when examined individually. But when you step back to see the big picture, you realize there are too many small fish in the big media pond. Save for the two newcomers from Fox and the Times, none of them have the resources to do individually what all of them could accomplish together.
Erick Erickson from Redstate wrote the other article that got Danny going and he’s worth quoting as well,
One area where the left has done a much better job than the right online is investing in blogs as a component of left-wing activism.
On the right, Heritage has its blog. Club for Growth has its blog. MRC has its blog. The GOP has its blog. The list goes on and on and on. When the right wants to get online, each organization does its own thing. That’s just the way its done.
To be sure, on the left, there’s a bit of the same thing going on, but then you’ve got groups like Media Matters that function more or less to subsidize left-wing bloggers. Oh sure, they say they are more important than that, but they aren’t really.
More importantly, though, is the advertising component. What is the online advertising budget for Heritage? What about for AEI? What about for Americans for Tax Reform? Family Research Council? Leadership Institute? NFIB? NTU? National Right to Work? Club for Growth? The list goes on.
In the past few years, SEIU, AFL-CIO, NEA, DCCC, and a host of other left-wing organizations have been buying ads on left of center blogs keeping those blogs going — allowing the bloggers on the left some financial incentive to keep blogging for the left.
In addition to all of that, you’ve got the Soros gang and SEIU engaging in a host of left-wing activities online that recruit and fund online writers — bloggers, journalists, etc.
…Every day in Washington, there is some right-wing group somewhere bemoaning the efforts of the right online. Sadly, for them and the rest of the right, their first thought is “let’s do it ourselves”, instead of “let’s invest in the existing talent.” Until the second becomes the first, the right will keep meeting in private to bemoan its (in)effectiveness online.
Meanwhile, the DailyKos has nine employees and a seven figure budget. Here at RedState, I have a volunteer list of two dozen contributors with full time jobs, me, and no budget.
I’ve been around the blogosphere since early 2001, when conservatives actually had a bigger, much more effective web presence than the left and the refusal of conservatives to cooperate has always baffled me a bit.
We have conservative talk radio hosts and online magazines with massive audiences — and almost none of them (Hugh Hewitt at Townhall is a notable exception) will deign to work with or significantly promote bloggers.
There are loads of deep pocketed donors in the GOP who toss around millions of dollars to fund huge ad budgets — but, how many of them spend money on blogs? Not many.
I got a promo from one of them, that shall remain nameless, a few days back. They were bragging that they were running a million dollar ad campaign. While that’s great, as far as I can tell, they’re not spending a cent of that ad campaign on conservative blogs — and do you know how much it would cost to run an ad on every single blog in the conservative advertising network at Blogads for a week? At the moment, only $5,686. That’s roughly 1/176 of the amount they’re going to spend on this campaign, but they’re not even willing to go that far to support the Rightroots that are out in the trenches every day.
In fact, we’ve even gotten to the point now where organizations will pay thousands of dollars on consultants, to hit blogs up for links, instead of just buying ads on the blogs. That’s great for the consultants (and I can tell you that from personal experience), but it sucks for the bloggers who get nothing but link requests out of it while some consultant pockets a fat check just for writing a few emails that generally don’t produce any results.
Most of the best bloggers on the Right are superb activists and writers, but they’re constrained in what they can do by lack of funds. Personally, I’ve run into road blocks on everything from reporting to opposition research, to acquiring content, to web design, to advertising, to going to conferences, because I simply cannot afford to drop the dough it would take to do those things. Between you and me, I even got invited to participate in one those super secret conservative groups, full of high rollers and important people, that inspire conspiracies around the web. It would have been a blast to attend and I think it might have been great to have someone at one of these groups who’s under forty, doesn’t live in DC, isn’t beholden to any group or company, and who talks to conservatives in “flyover country” all day long on his blog. But, I had to pass on that fantastic opportunity because I just couldn’t afford it — and that’s the rule, not the exception with bloggers on the Right.
Meanwhile, the Left has poured tens of millions of dollars into their web presence and Air America, while the mainstream media, the netroots, and the Obama administration are collaborating about how they’re going to shape the news.
I appreciate independence and self-reliance, but at some point, conservatives need to think back to what Ben Franklin said,
“We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Hat tip to Riehl World View for reminding me of Erick’s piece this morning.