October 16, 2002

Fashioning Blog-Finance Mod...

Fashioning Blog-Finance Models Out of Partisan Bitch-Slaps: A while back, the blogger known as Doctor Weevil started collecting pledges from like-minded folks to send warblogger-baiter Philip Shropshire on a one-way ticket to Baghdad. The "Shropshire Challenge," as it was known, now seems to have come to some sort of impasse....

Anyway, I'd rather claw out my own kidneys than wade into some tedious partisan screech-fest between people who use the term "chickenhawk," and those who see "multi-culturalists" behind every mulberry bush -- what interests me about the Shropshire Deal is how it actually might prove to be an interesting blogging model. Now that Amazon and PayPal tipping has become passť, while Blogads and other new schemes remain in infancy, I think the time is ripe for Targeted Blogger Fundraising (TBF). Create a hyper-specific project that the kids want to see, for a set price, and I think you can fund a new kind of something-or-other. Who wouldn't want to see what Tony Pierce could do with a fancy new digital camera (and some live Thai "massage" for his carpalled tunnels)? Why not send Charles Johnson on a fact-finding mission to Saudi Arabia? Ban Kaus from the beach, and make him report about welfare reform in South L.A. for a month! Let Greg Beato and Glenn Reynolds mudwrestle on the "digital piracy" side-stage at South By Southwest! I'm obviously tired and lacking any original thoughts, but I'm sure cleverer people could come up with one or two damned interesting projects for each blogger that they enjoy (don't be afraid to use the comments button below). With PayPal you could do it in such a way that the person in question can't withdraw the money until the target is completely met....

The Shropshire thing is especially interesting because it was fueled by a gleeful and impressively energetic spite. There must be all kinds of markets there.... Buy Ken Layne a razor ... send Nick Denton a one-way ticket to Kansas. Pierce just flew to Aruba after some fund-raising/art gimmick, and I understand there's an infamous credit-card junkie who makes people mad. If you actually put a set price on something that would guarantee to produce sweet & relevant content for readers, well, wouldn't that be interesting?

Posted by at October 16, 2002 03:35 AM

Wouldn't this be sort of like reality TV, except you get to design your own game and pick the contestants?

Posted by: Buck Naked at October 16, 2002 07:19 AM

I was just thinking of asking people to pay me not to blog.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 16, 2002 07:50 AM

Fantastic idea Matt. I'd suggest "Blog patronage" rather than TBF. I've nominated you for a trip to Baghdad.

Posted by: henry at October 16, 2002 09:27 AM

Henry -- I'd prefer Tehran, actually ...

Slightly off-topic: one of the best journalism fund-raising gimmicks *ever* was when Paul Krassner's Realist magazine sold posters of the American flag with the large caption "Fuck Communism!" ... and then used the proceeds to send Robert Scheer to Vietnam in the early 1960s, where he wrote one of the first critical accounts of U.S. involvement there. Who couldn't get behind a "Fuck Communism" American flag poster? I'm sure I'm botching many of the details, but that's essentially the story.

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 16, 2002 12:30 PM

I've been planning a new little revenue-generating idea ... don't want to say too much before it's launched ... a couple of more weeks. I wouldn't call my idea revolutionary. It's rather obvious, really, and not too far removed from your suggestions, Matt.

Posted by: Howard Owens at October 16, 2002 03:17 PM

thanks for thinking of me bro.

Posted by: tony at October 16, 2002 04:13 PM

I'd settle for sending Charles Johnson to the local Islamic cultural center to actually meet some Arab(-American) Muslims. Twenty-buck taxi ride, maybe?

Posted by: Dan Hartung at October 17, 2002 04:29 AM

Charles lives very close to a major mosque in Culver City.

Posted by: Rand Simberg at October 17, 2002 08:44 AM

Of course, the reason that the Shropshire challenge was so successful was that the participants knew that there was no way that Shropshire would take the bait. It's very easy to raise money for a contingency that people are confident will never occur. The point of the exercise was not to raise money, but show Shropshire up as a blowhard.

Posted by: Max Power at October 17, 2002 10:50 AM

Uh, actually, I did respond sometimes last week. And I thought that I had posted that here! I'll try again. After some negotiation (mostly on my end, you guys aren't into negotiation too much...!) we've gotten it down to $13000, which should be split between any warblogger and myself. I figure that between the two of us we should give a pretty fair accurate version of what's going on. My official response was at Warblogger Watch and Dr. Weevil and Pejman have posted responses as well...

By the way, would you like to go with me to Iraq Matt Welch...? So far, no takers amongst the oh so brave and courageous Warblogger crowd...

Posted by: Philip Shropshire at October 19, 2002 03:35 PM

Philip -- Shit yeah, I'd like to go to Iraq with you! We could be a Blogger Odd Couple, bitching at each other while trying to track down the truth about under-five mortality rates....

I just don't want to go when there's a war on, (I try to avoid wars), and I don't want to go in violation of U.S. law, though I'm confident I wouldn't have any trouble with the press passes & whatnot (though my past violation of U.S. law when I went to Cuba might prove to be an Achilles heel). I suppose that means the window of opportunity is closing shut soon ... I honestly haven't been following this whole Challenge debate, so I have no idea what you've been "negotiating," but if it involves being in Baghdad when the Stealth fighters are flying overhead, I will take a rain check.

It is my perhaps unpopular opinion that you do not need to volunteer yourself for War to comment on war-making, one way or another.

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 19, 2002 10:09 PM
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