Andrew chats with Maria Bustillos about The Dish and its future independence. It’s full of great comments that any regular reader of his blog will immediately understand and connect to, but this snippet in particular nailed it for me:
There are lots of things in American journalism and American life that people won’t talk about—they’re “not gonna go there.” […] Even things like late-term abortion, which we covered primarily through women readers writing us about their own experience of having it; another thing I’d never read before anywhere. Probably a third of our content is from readers, and I’m telling you, they are as intelligent as any op-ed columnist. As an editor, I can tell you, these readers send in cleaner copy than half the professional journalists I used to have to edit. And they do it for no credit; they don’t even have their names attached. That tells you, these people are just interested in debating; they want to get their point of view across.
So true. Just as one example, yesterday, a reader thread kicked off discussing HBO’s Girls. Can you imagine reading insights anything like the following anywhere else on the internet, which a reader sent in:
My female friends and my 20s were riddled with guys who want to pee on you; guys who want to have anal sex with you but aren’t particularly good at it; guys who are genuinely surprised when you try to tactfully inform them that 30 seconds of foreplay is not going to do the job. It’s not really fair, but for girls, so much of figuring out your own sexuality involves wrangling the sexuality of guys. For some period of time, many girls in their 20s put up with this because they don’t have the confidence or experience to insist otherwise […]
So, yes, it is sad. For a lot of girls, sex in your 20s is often sad, because you are fending off bad sex all the time. Then guys mature, and we mature, and we learn to be better to each other. And better for each other. And Lena Dunham is showing that process. It’s awesome.
! There’s something about The Dish’s tone and format that encourages people to be so honest and open. A thread mainly contributed to by women detailing their experiences of catcalling was another eye-opener for me. Not to mention the reader who wrote in about their experience of having sex with their favourite porn star.
I think it’s worth saying that, if anything, I think paying for content makes it better as an experience, in every sense. When I’ve invested in journalism, I feel I’ve done my bit to sustain this vital industry that I’d never want to see crumble. And it also makes me more attentive, more inclined to spend time reading what I should. I can only assume other Dishheads will feel similarly.
Oh, and if there’s any way to bind a digital community even more tightly together, this is it. Fret not. It’s going to work.