Freedom of Thought Ain’t Free

by Jim Geraghty

Unlike certain other publications, National Review has no wealthy corporate siblings to mooch off of.

Look, let’s get this out of the way. You don’t like reading these requests for donations, and I don’t like writing them. If they weren’t necessary, we wouldn’t do them.

In an interview with Kathryn a short while ago, I said:

In a lot of ways, National Review is like a small family business. We’re not owned by some larger media entity or conglomerate. For better or worse, there’s no Uncle Rupert. That’s probably a financial drawback and an editorial strength — we never have to worry about whether what we’re writing will offend “the suits.” I think what’s amazing, once you see the place from the inside, is how much we punch above our weight. You’ve heard the stories of people coming into the New York offices and picturing something much bigger, fancier. This is it, my friends.

There are no giant profits from the National Review Movie Studio, or the National Review Broadcast Network, or the National Review Widget Manufacturing Plant that can be diverted when NR magazine and NRO don’t bring in enough revenue to cover costs. The formula to keep the lights on and the ship sailing has always been advertising, subscriptions, a bit of money from the cruises, and the generosity of readers like you.

The formula to keep the lights on and the ship sailing has always been advertising, subscriptions, a bit of money from the cruises, and the generosity of readers like you.

I would point out that in any other part of our economy, if you said, “I want a really quality product that I can enjoy 24–7, constantly updated, put together by a large staff, and I refuse to pay anything for it,” people would look at you like you’re crazy. But for some reason, in the realm of Internet journalism, people expect it to be good, and they expect it to be free. You’ll probably never see a subscription here — although you’ve noticed how many newspaper websites put a limit on how many articles you can read for free per month! — but it doesn’t seem unreasonable for us to ask you to kick in a little if you can.

(I’m always amused by those in the comments sections who say they would have donated, but they’re furious about this piece or that piece or that departed contributor. Yeah. I’m sure you were just about to mail the check when you saw something that bothered you so. You only support that which you agree with 100 percent, right?)

For those who have given already, thank you, from myself and from my personal and professional families. And for those who haven’t . . . ahem.

— Jim Geraghty is senior political correspondent for National Review.