May 18, 2009
An appeal for help from our readersBy Thomas Lifson
As we did last year, American Thinker is asking our readers to help with financial donations. For our first four years-plus, we avoided such direct appeals, but were gratified last year that hundreds of you responded so generously. As a result of your support, we were able to expand considerably, add staff help, and offer our readers information and analysis unavailable elsewhere in the American media.
It is with some trepidation that we return to begging again this year, but there are good reasons for it. So I want to explain what your donations last year bought, and what we hope to do this year with the support you might care to send our way.
During the past 12 months, American Thinker has instituted our comments feature and greatly expanded the amount of material we publish. We changed our software, and have gone from 3 articles a day to 5 or 6 articles a day. The number of blogs we publish has also increased, although not as dramatically as the number of articles.
Our readership has more than doubled in the past year, and we are one of the largest conservative websites published. We now reach close to a million unique individuals each month, and reached considerably more people than that during the run up to the 2008 election. Our total visits each month are in the millions, thanks to our loyal readers.
Like virtually all political websites, our readership slacked off after the election, but we have kept many of the new readers who found us during the election, and our traffic has been growing very smartly since the inauguration of Barack Obama, more than doubling pre-election levels.
More important than the numbers, AT has been in the lead on many important stories, from global warming to Obama's history and politics. We are attracting more submissions, new writers, and more notice and standing in the press than ever before. Our writers are gaining recognition in other media as some of the most astute analysts anywhere. In the next two weeks, we will have some very exciting news for you in that regard.
What Lies Ahead
All of this expansion has taken place without an "angel" or corporate investor backing us. AT has grown to the point where my own financial resources are completely inadequate for what we need. We have to find and compensate technically capable talent to write software and run our servers for us. We desperately need to invest in unglamorous, invisible-to-readers, information technology that will enable our platform to be more stable, allow our editors and writers to collaborate more effectively, and lay the foundation for further expansion of our content.
We are planning to add new "Thinker" pages. The first of these, The Environment Thinker, edited by Marc Sheppard, will be debuting shortly, focused on global warming and other green plans to wreck the economy. We have plans to add other topical pages too, as soon as IT infrastructure, finances, and time allow. Because I already work 7 days a week at my physical limits, we need to hire and pay (meagerly, I might add) editors to help out with the new content.
We also hope to develop in the months ahead a membership system. Everything that is currently on American Thinker will remain free to all, rest assured. And we plan to offer more content pages, also for free. But there are certain functions that are well adapted to a membership system, including chat rooms, member forums, podcasts with AT staffers discussing the news and backstage news at AT, and other very exciting ideas that will be unveiled later.
Why we need support
Despite our growth in readership, the sad fact is that internet advertising pays very, very poorly, and the income we receive is not sufficient to pay for the professional help we need to buy. Since the economic crash, internet ad rates have plummeted. The reason, we are told, is the vast supply of internet ad space, which is growing exponentially, coupled with weak demand. I read several months ago a complaint from someone at the New York Times about the ad rates they receive on the web, which were far lower than in print. The person named the lowest price the Times receives online, and it was over ten times what AT gets per thousand impressions. Ad agencies, for the most part, regard internet ads not linked to a print publication as a commodity, to be purchased at commodity prices.
It has become obvious that AT is, in fact, a community of sorts, one which links together people who aspire to inform themselves and think seriously about the important issues of our day. We hope that a reasonably-priced membership system, which brings valuable new content to readers, may be one route to financial viability for the long run.
There are other plans afoot, as well, exciting ideas which we hope to implement in the next year, but which are, for now, too tentative to write about. We believe we are fighting to save the America we knew, so that in ten or twenty years, Americans will still enjoy the freedom and prosperity we have known all our lives (and which too many of us have taken for granted).
In this time of economic stress, I though very seriously about whether or not to ask you, our readers, for support one more time. In the end, the challenge we face with the Left in command, provided the answer I needed.
If you are able to, please either donate electronically, or via mail. Our mailing address is:
6331 Fairmount Ave., #365
El Cerrito, CA 94530
For those who wish to use a credit card, please follow this link to PayPal. You do not need to have a PayPal account to use your credit card, and PayPal guarantees that your information will remain securely confidential. We will never even see your credit card information.
We consider it an honor and responsibility to do what we do at American Thinker. We hope you find us worthy of your support.
Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher