Why You Should Become a Banter Member. And an Apology (Or Two..)

(This article is unlocked and won’t count towards your meter) The headline of this piece is a bit of a giveaway in regards to its aim. We want you to buy a membership from us, and this article is supposed to be a way of convincing you to make the leap. Before you close your browser, hear us out.
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Ben Cohen
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(This article is unlocked and won’t count towards your meter) The headline of this piece is a bit of a giveaway in regards to its aim. We want you to buy a membership from us, and this article is supposed to be a way of convincing you to make the leap. Before you close your browser, hear us out.
the good fight

(This article is unlocked and won't count towards your meter)

The headline of this piece is a bit of a giveaway in regards to its aim. We want you to buy a membership from us, and this article is supposed to be a way of convincing you to make the leap.

Before you close your browser, hear us out.

First of all, we'd like to apologize for ongoing technical problems some of our subscribers are experiencing seeing ads. We're almost there resolving the issue, so thank you for your patience. Secondly, (and more importantly) we would like to apologize for springing our metered content model on them after several years of being free. Despite the warning, it has been hard for everyone, and perhaps we could have rolled it out slightly differently. We have been getting a steady stream of emails saying things like this:

The fact that so many of my favorite journalists all landed in one place used to be a bonus...now I feel as though a birthday gift has been stolen before I could open it.

And this:

I have read your site every day since I found it shortly after you hired Tommy. I wish I could keep reading, but the price has deterred me. I would gladly pay to read it, but I can not justify *how much* you're asking.

Asking people to pay for a service they had for free is never popular, and we completely understand people’s frustration.

That being said, we are doing are damnedest to justify the $5.99 we’re asking for. We are producing better, more thoughtful content - both written and video. We have taken a traffic hit to do so (quite alarming when we were comfortably clearing over a million visits a month before hand).

But we are committed to providing quality to our readers, especially now we are asking people to pay.

Why a subscription model?

Simply put, it is the future of online publishing and the key to our long term survival. The internet is a graveyard of content sites that could not sustain their overhead with advertising alone. Every serious site that doesn’t rely on posting photos of celebrities that look like mattresses to drive traffic is moving in one way or another towards a subscription service. The technology is now here, it is safe, and the data shows that people are willing to pay for content - as long as it is good.

We do believe that what we create here on a daily basis is good (well, actually great). And so do many of our readers. Here was an email I received a couple of days ago:

I read the latest collective email, and just wanted to once more let it be clear that I'm totally, totally on board….You're doing great stuff, to the maximum benefit of journalism, political discourse and anyone who enjoys skilled and intelligent writing. I just really, really hope that the stupid constraints of modern capitalism don't endanger the business, the community or the Banter's general model.

The last sentence struck a chord, because it is a very serious reality facing publishers right now. Since the creation of the printing press over 500 years ago, it has only been the past 15 years where quality content has been distributed for free. Traditionally, newspapers and magazines existed by a) selling ads and b) selling the actual newspaper or magazine itself. Until recently, websites have only been able to sell ads - and given rates are steadily declining it is almost impossible to create a sustainable business with one source of income. That is why implementing a subscriber model is literally the only way to ensure publishers who are committed to high quality content can keep going.

So that is our pitch: we will not do viral content. We will not chase page views. We will not run misleading headline promising 'to change you forever'.

What we will do is create content we believe in - intelligent, thoughtful analysis backed by facts and sprinkled with humor. We will invest in quality over quantity and stay true to our original purpose. We believe that the Banter is a bastion of sanity amidst a sea of madness, and our readers come here to escape the relentless clickbait that drives much of the internet. We do believe our readers will support that, and that is why we are asking them to subscribe. A reader commented last week that:

Back in the day people used to buy subscriptions to magazines. I see this as an updated form of that. The content is reliable and maintains its integrity. Just about every piece informs me, makes me consider other perspectives, or outright challenges my own opinion. That's worth at least $5.99.

That $5.99 works out to 19 cents a day to keep us going. So sign up now and join the fight.

Ben