I know whenever we ask for donations, some people out there must be thinking, “You mean you don’t do this for fun?” Well, to be honest, we do do it for fun. What could be more enjoyable than getting to defend what you think is good and true every day? But we can’t do it without financial support.
A lot of people have a misconception about National Review. They think we must have some enormously rich sugar daddy behind us, pouring dollars hand over fist into NR. It’s not so–at least not until Jonah makes his first billion. NR has always depended on the support of readers above and beyond whatever they pay for a subscription. Those of you who are long-time print subscribers are familiar with the annual letters William F. Buckley sends to you in an appeal for donations. This once-a-year NRO fundraiser is in that tradition.
Except that if you read National Review Online regularly and don’t subscribe to the print or digital editions of the magazine, you are in a weaker position to rebuff our appeals for help. A print subscriber is already contributing something to NR. You, I’m afraid to say, aren’t. You are getting the fruits of a lot of labor and expense . . . for free. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are delighted that you are reading and we want to spread our message as widely as possible. But if you enjoy what you read, if you think it’s informative and important, you should consider doing a little to help us keep it all going.
Because–let me be frank here–we lose money. NRO is a loss leader. And here’s what’s unfortunate–the print magazine is a loss leader too. We are surrounded by loss leaders. If we ever have ideas to further our mission, they are guaranteed to be loss leaders. If your business needs advice on how to develop a loss leader, come to us. We have it down. I assure you we can help you start to lose money almost immediately. It’s our specialty. We have been doing it for 50 years and hope to keep doing it for many more.
That last bit isn’t quite right. We’d prefer not to lose money. But there is something to the opinion journalism business that makes it inherently unprofitable. Pricey advertisers don’t naturally flock to small-circulation magazines devoted to kicking up as much controversy as possible. Its not that we don’t try. I think we have more ads in the pages of NR than any comparable magazine. We are having increasing success attracting advertisers to NRO. We re-designed the site not just to make it more lively for readers but to make it more appealing for advertisers.
But it will never be enough. We don’t complain about that. It comes with the territory. As WFB said long ago, NR exists to make a point, not a profit. This is as it should be. We exist to advance a worldview not to rake in money. That doesn’t mean we are imprudent with our resources. I think a lot of people would be shocked to listen into our meetings and hear how insistent some NR suits are on giving obsessive consideration to even the slightest expenditure (yes, I’m talking about you Ed Capano!).
So forgive me for asking. It’s no fun to ask. There are many, many things I’d prefer to be doing right now than writing this. But please help.
Do it for Kathryn, and Jonah, and Jay, and VDH. For Ramesh and Frum and Steyn. For Derb (or to spite Derb, if you must) and JPod and Stuttaford. For Byron and Sprueill and Geraghty. For John Miller and Mark Levin and Kate O’Beirne and John O’Sullivan. For Chris McEvoy and Nathan Goulding (you might not know their names, but nothing would happen on NRO without them). For Ed Whelan and Cliff May. For Andy McCarthy, Iain Murray, Jonathan Adler (not the ceramics Jonathan Adler ), Jim Robbins, Michael Ledeen and all the others. Do it for this incredibly eclectic, brilliant, funny, and resourceful group of writers that gathers in this space every day to argue, excoriate, report, and analyze.
Do it because you believe in pounding our enemies and winning the war on terror. Do it because you believe in freedom and in our civilization. Do it because you know the media is biased. Do it because you believe courts shouldn’t legislate and the growth of the state should be held in check. Do it because you believe in marriage and the family. Do it because you hate taxes and won’t be satisfied until the 16th amendment is repealed. Do it–if that’s your kind of thing–because you love seeing a couple of timewasters posted in The Corner every day. Do it because you believe in what we are trying to do, and enjoy the way we do it.
You will feel better if you do. That little tickle of guilt you have somewhere in the back of your brain–the one you are trying to repress and deny right now–will go away. And something funny will happen. You will feel drawn even closer to this loud, bustling family that is NRO and that will be able to continue to thrive partly because of you. You won’t regret it.
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