You may have missed it a few weeks back, but Slugger is now 13. When I set the blog up in June 2002 it was part of my research for a paper on the future of Unionism. I was interested in setting it context of a 360 degree picture of the whole political situation the post Belfast Agreement settlement.
When we subsequently received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust early in 2003 we made sure that the research interviews and focus group reports were all shared immediately with Slugger’s already growing audience.
The open process which drove that project meant that from early on we were able to pique a strong interest in our doings amongst political insiders. Copies of the report were sent to all MLAs, party headquarters and key committees at Westminster and Leinster House.
It was also key to building pluralist trust and a largely informed community around the Slugger brand, north and south of the border and on either side of the Irish Sea.
Most of the private feedback we get is surprisingly positive, given our habit of not dodging difficult, sticky or complex issues. One reader referred to it as a ‘fifth province’ (or ‘seventh county’), as a place in which things get thrashed out in a muscular but civil manner that would otherwise not be raised.
No one has ever accused us of being guilty of the “production of innocence” or plaintively pleading to our readers “We have no idea who’s right.” 😉
And all of it is done an absolute shoestring. None of us, as David was at pains to emphasis on his own very personal account of why he blogs, do not derive a living from our blogging.
My own day job (often in collaboration with Sweden-based John Kellden) is in consultancy. No one takes an income from writing, moderating and editing Slugger. It gets done in the corners of the day where we can.
Over the years we have used various specific forms of fund-raising:
- In autumn 2003 we took a leaf out of Josh Marshall’s book and raised over £1000 in donations (Josh had raised $6k in 24 hours) to fund a week of on-the-ground coverage of that year’s Assembly elections.
- The Slugger Awards (coming back this Autumn btw, so keep your ear to the ground for further news) heralded the first foray into revenue raising real time events. And we want to do more of that.
But I think Josh Marshall once again is leading the way as far as real time political blogging is concerned, targeting influential audiences. So far as Slugger, we want to move forward in ways which enhance rather than endanger Slugger’s much prized plurality and independence
We’re also in the market for finding sponsors for the daily (or near daily) #SluggerReport, recorded live and interactively via Periscope and then edited and uploaded as podcasts to the Slugger Audioboom account.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty