Bloomberg Businessweek reported today that the Heritage Foundation plans to launch a "new digital news site" called the Daily Signal next month, as an answer to Vox and FiveThirtyEight. I almost wrote that Heritage planned to "get into the news business," but that would have been inaccurate:
Another way the Daily Signal plans to distinguish itself from its brethren on the right is through the quality of the reading experience. Conservative sites tend to be plagued by annoying pop-under ads and poor design. Heritage hired Atlantic Media Strategies, the digital consultancy behind the elegant financial site Quartz, to design the Daily Signal for phones and tablets.... Because the Daily Signal is fully underwritten by Heritage, ads won't clutter the experience.
In other words, the Heritage Foundation—which puts "free enterprise" first on its list of mission principles—is unwilling to entrust the Daily Signal's fate to the vicissitudes of capitalism. It says it wants to compete with Vox, a well-funded media company, and FiveThirtyEight, an arm of the Disney/ABC/ESPN commercial empire, but it doesn't have the courage to compete-compete with them, in the marketplace of advertising that surrounds the marketplace of ideas.
(Heritage also intends for the Daily Signal to publish "true, straight-down-the-middle journalism," according to its publisher, Geoffrey Lysaught, who will continue to also work as "vice president of strategic communications" for the ideological advocacy group. OK!)
But so Heritage envisions a high-class reading experience, serving a "younger audience" of "smart conservatives," yet it doubts its ability to match high-class advertisers to its desired readership. The Invisible Hand, for some perverse reason, usually tries to connect readers of conservative media with garbage ads for scammy products targeted at gullible (and senescent) idiots.
What to do? Forsake business altogether, and make the new publication a charity case, supported by Heritage's donors. The important thing is to spread the ideas, not to practice them.
[Image via Getty]