Half a century ago my predecessor as National Review publisher, William A. Rusher — who is still writing his great weekly column, the latest installment of which you can find here — told Bill Buckley, as they looked aghast at the sea of red ink washing the magazine’s financial statement, that subscribers would never let NR perish. Rusher’s advice: Write them and ask for help.
And so WFB wrote NR’s readers and asked them to save the magazine — the rallying flag of conservatism. And our subscribers did. And they continue to do so. God bless ’em, every one.
A quick primer on the birds and bees of publishing: Opinion magazines are simply not profitable ventures. Turns out now that few magazines are, but heck — we’ve been living hand-to-mouth for decades. Anyway, some opinion journals (especially those on the left) have gotten by for years courtesy of their sugar daddies. Over here at NR, on the right, where sanity reigns, we have survived and thrived thanks to thousands of annual donations by generous readers. Very populist of us.
But folks, I can assure you that an opinion magazine is Fort Knox compared to an opinion website. It’s just the nature of the business. People will actually spend greenbacks on NR the magazine (a.k.a., National Review on Dead Tree). Why? Because paper is tangible, is valuable, and is worth $59 per annum. But given the supply-and-demand dynamics of the web, some people will not give you the nickel left in that little red dish on the counter at the 7-11.
Sure, we get ad revenue and gobs of money (if by “gobs” you mean $469) from tee-shirt sales. But it all falls very short of the budget, which includes pathetic salaries for underpaid writers. (I would have added “starving” but I haven’t had time to Photoshop pictures of Jonah.)
NRO is as important to our cause as NR. Both need your help, but here I ask, beg, plead, grovel: Please make a generous contribution to help sustain NRO. It will go a long way towards keeping this incredibly influential website standing athwart the World Wide Web yelling stop, especially in Year One, Annos Obamas.
There hasn’t been a time when NRO was more needing or more deserving, so pitch in please. We’re all in this together. It might take a village in some places, but here it will only take a few bucks from you.
On behalf of the suits (well, the blazers, since we can’t afford suits), many thanks for your support.
– Jack Fowler is the publisher of National Review.