110 Comments

We are the media now. Laugh at the censorious cringey commissars as they bootlick the regime with their propaganda.

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After the life you’ve lived, this must all be so comical/infuriating, watching westerners fall into the Marxist traps that you’ve been clearly identifying for decades. Your message hasn’t been lost on us, at least. Thanks for your service to mankind.

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This is both exciting and maddening. I have been writing about politics on Substack since 2020 and it's curious to me that I would have zero knowledge that there was 1) an event in Washington for politics writers on Substack and that 2) Substack itself is "leaning into politics discourse." I love knowing this and sure wish I had some sense of it all before three minutes ago.

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I was about to comment something similar. I live in the area, and while I may or may not have had the time to go (or an invitation, not to be presumptive), where was the announcement—at least to share and say hey, this is cool, check it out? Did I miss something?

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Thanks for this. I hesitated to sound like a crank so I appreciate knowing it's not just me. :)

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because, really, they don't care about or celebrate you, or us.

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Right? LOLOLOL laughing all the way to the Substack bank they are.

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If David Hogg is on the guest list...I remain skeptical.

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Yeah, Meghan McCain is bad enough but David Hogg too? To borrow a line from lizard person and war criminal W, they hate us for our freedom.

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Agree, The Fossil. I detest politics in general, not a D nor an R but remain now an Independent. If I could totally ignore it all, I would...but I think some semblance of awareness is needed. Most of us in most countries around the world just want to be left alone to live our lives. We appreciate basic infrastructure for roads, bridges, water needs, electricity, sewer maintenance, basic law and order to not be over-run with lawlessness and work we actually enjoy and have an ability with. I have seen less and less of that as I get older. Sad...but we keep trying and keep moving forward, do not know what else to do. I am glad I am not just being born!

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so do you assume that folks on these sites aren't feeding their readers their versions of the truth which could be considered propaganda by those who disagree?

I'm just curious because this blog reads like we in social media land got the real truths that conventional journalists-as flawed as we know many are-twist to suit their purposes....thanks marla

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Hamish, Great job promoting Substack in a high-profile space. It sounds like this was a fun, well-attended event.

I want to pick a bit of a bone with your speech. Charming, funny, yes. And thank you for sharing it. However, I think the vision of an impactful Substack brand and the vision for sane politics discourse are two different goals. Both are worthy, but it's not helpful (and it could be hurtful) to collapse them together. Even a short speech like this one could tease them apart.

You've built something special in Substack, but new media cannot be counted on to lead to new political discourse. Civility is not automatic; it takes explicit leadership. (Compare: Lord of the Flies vs. Shakespeare's Henry V.)

If you want to get in the business of reforming politics discourse, please study what others are doing. The non-partisan National Institute for Civil Discourse and its Common Sense American project are great role models. So are the speeches of George Washington. People spend entire careers on this.

I could absolutely get behind Substack's investment in civil discourse, assuming a clear vision of how Substack can help. How to discover this? You've cheered the arrival of academics; call on them. Convene a team of rivals (but not idealogues with a moneyed interest) from history, poli sci, communications, journalism, ethics, and language studies to advise. Take it seriously and ask for help if you want to create something valuable to politics discourse and democracy. If that's more than you want to do, then come clean that Substack is going to take advantage of a contentious election year to grow its cultural impact, and don't claim more than you mean to do.

I'd love to hear that a civic-minded, non-partisan panel or task force is drafting an answer to the question: HOW can Substack bring sanity to politics discourse?

Now that could be something. Thank you for considering this viewpoint.

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Despite being a born again Christian, I really appreciated the F-U part of your speech. Kinda like how Jesus saved his most vociferous condemnation for the Pharisees.

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well, fuck you, too, then.

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Wow! Great comments. Especially love your comments for authoritarians. :-)

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Substack has changed my life. It’s the best place on the internet.

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Great speech and great event. Substack should be immensely popular with traditional liberals and conservatives and libertarians. As I see it, Substack authors and "citizen journalists" are the only people writing about and investigating many subjects that are taboo to our colleagues in the "mainstream" press.

If you want real "watchdog" journalism, Substack may be for you.

Thanks for giving freelance writers like myself a platform to actually publish the articles and commentary we think are important. (And your company has made me some money, which comes in handy).

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It was lovely to attend this event and see your speech!

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Substack is more than celebrities, famous journalists and influencers. I feel like you forget about the rest of us over here and get caught up in the spotlight. I was very early to hop on Substack moving my thousands of readers from squarespace over. And I also invested in the company when you asked. I’m know I’m not alone when I say HELLO. We are here too.

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Susan, agree. I would have no interest in hanging out with "celebreties, famous journalists and influencers." I want ORDINARY human beings, on the same difficult road as I am. I could care less about the famous. They can live, so can I. I have no ego left, not that I ever did...but at my Elder age, I see the narrow ledge of humans and the sharings I have on Substack are precious to me, both with my Christian friends and with those of no faith in God. Humans need the "visiting" arena and Substack is it! Blessings to all and keep on no matter what! WEW

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Fuck yeah we are here. Jeez.

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“Hello” back! 👋🏼

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Hear, hear!

I invested too!

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I love this! As someone who’s Facebook page was flagged and deleted by Facebook and who’s rising blog on health and wellness was marginalized by Google, I appreciate everything about Substack. Thank you for giving a platform and voice to those who can’t be heard over the din of the world.

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May 3·edited May 3

It's a clever strategy. Pan political means no direct moral line. We are seeing a rise in authoritarian leaderships. I hear you say that the answer to this is independent media. But I see dangers. Media is a political tool, and independent media cannot thrive if creatives including journalists fail to call out the danger and the damage.

As a journalist who landed in conflict zones to try and bring the world's attention to conflict - to stop the conflicts - I am passionate about the need for democratic media.

But democratic media does not support the rise of authoritarianism it is a counter to that. Independent media is not independent unless it is made up of journalists who are prepared to take a moral standpoint against autocracy.

Independent media, democratic independent media requires real courage from courageous people who are motivated by something other than personal wealth. It won't create zillionaires because it should undermine the autocratic power base.

What we need now, more than ever, if this planet is to survive, is a platform for journalists who can use media as a tool for information and education.

We need humanitarian journalists who have the courage to call out the horror of massacres, the theft of lands, the damage of the industries of war and related climate damage, who refuse to be part of the money-making killing machine.

I see a potential tool for intellectual and moral enlightenment without the crass self indulgence of libertarianism.

Democracy Now is one such platform a platform for intelligent caring independent journalists who do take that stand. I urge this platform to do the same. I recommend that you don't court those who would stomp on the poor. I remember attending a media dinner at Palais Royal in Paris. Beyond the champagne and smoked oysters, the homeless - real people with sad stories - were settling in for the night under the empty rooms of that Palace.

Care for creatives who are striving for human rights and for nature's right to continue to exist, the right of this planet to breathe rather than burn. If wealth is the goal the system will have already been hijacked.

The pie will not be divided fairly under 'pan political'. If the aim is to share and care, to create fair level playing fields for creatives, to create a market with equal flourishing opportunities for all, then call it and be proud. Then and only then.

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Well said, @saigeisms !

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You indicate you are one of the founders of Substack. I have no problem with the kinds of features you have added to make Substack do more than be merely a blog, but Substack's paywalling of free subscribers is a travesty. The Guardian gets it right. Donate if you can, but you don't have to pay to read the newspaper. Some other strugging newspapers might wake up as well.

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Diane, I think the issue there is the Guardian pays its journalists? Not just a startup fee until they get established but an ongoing salary with pension "benefits" etcetera...

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Good point, but the issue is how to get some payment for the content provided. My point is I am much more likely to donate a dollar or two when I read good content than I am to subscribe to twenty or thirty Substack writers. And frankly, a free subscription should be free. Substack is trying to force free subscribers to pay, a move I see as negating free subscriptions. It's a metter of principle.

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The subscription paywall on Substack is a choice of the author, not Substack. Some posters are completely free, some are free but you have pay-subscribe to comment. And some require subscription payment to read. And sometimes it applies to selective posts. I think it’s a good system, given that it’s up to the author. One thing I wish was an option that was a lower “supporter” tier that allowed some access but didn’t cost the full subscription price. I can’t afford ten $50 or $60 annual subscriptions to have access to read all the authors I want to read. But overall, right now I pick and choose who I pay-subscribe to.

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I found that the teaser paywall activated automatically on my posts without any indication to me that it did. And I found other writers who had paywall features automatically turn on without their knowledge. As I indicated in my post, I had no warning that this feature was being introduced and at first thought Substack was not workiing. This is a very poor way to introduce a new feature. Substack writers should understand that if you follow Substack authors in any great number, you cannot afford to pay to read. So when I hit the teaser in a Substack post I now unsubscribe. Is this what Substack writers really want?

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<< And for the authoritarians and anyone who would shut down the voice of the independent, the voice of the dissident, the voice of the common man, the voice of the oppressed… >>

You nailed that one PERFECTLY! Thank you very much.

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May 5·edited May 5Liked by Hamish McKenzie

Hamish, thank you for this interesting information. I profoundly appreciate Substack, for those of us without big bucks, who love the power of the written word. I am a former Democrat, former Leftist, now Independent and Conservative all the way at age 71. The fact that Substack can harbor both Left and Right on one platform is amazing. I guess we simply "block" those who harrass us or whom we find unpalatable. Free speech is a very narrow and harrowing bridge. I want all to speak...and I want some honorable boundaries to peaceful dialogue. I am endeavoring to build my tiny corner slow but sure. I cannot press people for money, I know the difficult times we are in, for so many of us. I simply write my heart, offer comments of encouragement and support and allow God to guide the process for me. Thank you again for the overwhelming hard work of creating this wonderful platform, something like "herding cats." WEW

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I love the freedom to write what I want and fulfill my artistic vision. I know a good story when I see one. This platform has opened up a way for me to get paid to write, which is my dream come true. Furthermore. Substack has allowed me to create the history of my town, St Mary’s, in a fun narrative form people would actually want to read. As I said, I know a good story when I see one.

I hope Substack stays around for a long time and I able to achieve great success here, while sharing good stories without stifling my artistic inner voice.

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Great speech: short, to the point, laced with humour

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Congratulations to all those paid, hired Substack writers who get to make all of us pleeb writers feel like we have a feeble, whisp of a voice amidst the subtle censorship that is offered to us or ON us as we waste a lot time here. Congrats.

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