A Bare-Knuckles Experiment

It always fascinates me how readers perceive me and the business behind This is True. This is the story of one reader’s …well… “interesting” impression.

This week’s is the last issue (as of now) for seven-year Premium subscriber John in Texas. In response to my recent renewal notice to him, John says:

Here is why I am not renewing my Premium, and am reverting back to the free edition. In recent years, you have (thankfully and with deserved pride) evolved from a bare-knuckles spare bedroom experiment in dire need of cash into a media business. As such, you now need to compare yourself to other media businesses and the value they offer for the dollar. For $2 per month, I essentially get from you a couple dozen extra sort stories and earlier delivery. By comparison… for $4 per month, I get The Daily, a content-rich news magazine delivered to my iPad — much more bang for the buck. I guess technology and my own evolving taste for news has migrated me out of your target market. I do appreciate that you raised my awareness of ZT over the years; I had no idea that nonsense was so widespread!

I hope this little tidbit of subscriber data is informative. Keep up the good work going forward!

It is informative, John: thank you for the time you took to send me your thoughts!

Media Business

When John upgraded in April 2004, True was not quite 10 years old. I had quit my Day Job eight years before, and had been able to make my living from the publication since. In 2003 my wife and I chucked city life and moved to the rural countryside, realizing my years-long dream of literally “living on 40 acres along a dirt road.”

I’m not sure where the “desperate for cash” idea came in, any more than any business needs cash flow to continue operations. I’d much rather not push so hard in the free edition for upgrades, but when I don’t, they don’t happen. As I’ve revealed before, a really “good” week only brings about a dozen upgrades. (This past weekend there were four.)

But yes, True was in fact operated out of a spare bedroom in the new house that the publication had built for us. That turned into a problem when I started bringing in part-time employees (when my wife stopped working for me): no matter how much I like my employees, I realized that having them in the house was intolerable — the house had become a workplace, and “work” and “life” were so intermixed that I was never able to get away from it.

In 2005, I put some savings plus the advance for the Stella Awards book plus a second mortgage toward buying the house next door — a double-wide on 5 acres with an astounding view — to use as the office. And that’s where I am as I write this.

Does that make me or True a “media business”? Well, I’ve joked for many years that I run a “multi-national publishing empire,” but really I feel more like I’m still running things out of a bedroom, even when, 10-12 hours/week, I have an assistant sharing the room with me. (Thankfully, Becky puts in some hours from home, too! But even combined, my two assistants don’t work full time.)

Defining Success

Still, I have “success” in the manner which I have defined it — not with millions in the bank (which I definitely don’t have — not that there’s anything wrong with that goal), but rather with the lifestyle I wanted. I work really hard (about 60 hours/week on average), and pay fair wages to those who help me, to have that success.

At the same time, I’ve worked hard to expand what Premium subscribers get for their subscription fee (which rate has stayed constant since it was introduced in 2004 — the year John upgraded!), not the least of which has been expanding to a minimum of 10 stories per issue (and often 11-12).

Still, no: I can’t compete with the big media companies, and more importantly, I don’t think you really want me to. You like that True has an independent voice. You like that I’m willing to say what big media companies wouldn’t dare say, since they’d alienate advertisers (who really pay the freight in media! I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet The Daily has ads in it. That publication is decidedly a “big media” one: it’s own by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.)

As far as I can tell, you also like that you’ve been able to get to know me a bit as a person. And you really like that I honor the “unsung heroes” in the Honorary Unsubscribe, rather than give ever-more publicity “pop culture” celebrities that Big Media loves to fawn over.

And while I do have a couple of writers helping me with the stories now, their stories still get my stamp since I edit them, up to and including rewriting them (or at least the taglines) as I see fit. And the writers aren’t so ego-invested to be incensed by it, which means I did a pretty darned good job of choosing them. I keep asking them, “Are you having fun?” and the answer is consistently “Yes!”

And then they get paid. 🙂

Can’t Do It Without You

And through it all, you have made it possible. The Premium subscribers are a major part of this story, as I literally couldn’t do this without them. While the subscription fee isn’t much, in a make-a-living sense, that there are several thousand of you each providing a little every year is what makes this whole thing work.

I may have been one of the first to make a living writing online, having started in early 1994, but the concept of writers selling their work directly to their audience is not unusual in history, where the likes of early American writer and statesman Benjamin Franklin, who was his own printer, sold an astounding 10,000 copies of his Poor Richard’s Almanack per year in the early 1700s. Nearly 300 years later, I’d love to have that many paid subscribers! I don’t, but I have enough that I do consider the publication a success.

Seriously, though, as John suggested I am proud that so many of you support my work: your subscription is a vote for me to continue “telling it like it is” (or, as John put it, to “Keep up the good work going forward!”) And even though I now finally have help writing the stories, my name is still on the top, and I take that very, very seriously: there’s no way I would not edit the stories before sending them to you.

True is, to me, definitely still a “bare-knuckles experiment” — one that worked — even if I’ve moved it out of the spare bedroom. In my quest to bring you “thought-provoking entertainment” I will continue to say what I think needs to be said, continue to rally against idiocy in the world (especially in schools and government), and strive to entertain you at the same time. And I thank you for being such a big part in making it happen.

So, John: I do understand that sometimes people “move on” and drop their Premium subscriptions, and if that’s your choice, I’m cool with it. But I have found that many come back later, sometimes after years. So rather than “Goodbye” I prefer to say “See you later.”

- - -

This page is an example of This is True’s style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. True is an email newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition in entertaining way. If that sounds good, click here to open a subscribe form.

To really support True, please sign up for a paid subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:

One Year Upgrade


(More upgrade options here.)

Q: Why would I want to pay more than the regular rate?

A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online: this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.

37 Comments on “A Bare-Knuckles Experiment

  1. Do you go to a bookstore and buy the biggest thickest book you can find on the discount rack, because you don’t care about anything but how much book you’re getting for your dollar?

    OTOH, you can get 60% as much fun from the free version as from the paid version, and the question becomes whether the other 40% is worth $24 a year? John didn’t unsubscribe. He just downgraded.

    So where Randy needs to have a think is whether it might be worth making the free edition smaller, so the value proposition of the upgrade gets bigger.

    I won’t be making the free edition smaller. True isn’t sold by the pound. The free edition has 4 stories, and the Premium edition has 10 or more. I intend to keep it that way. -rc

  2. Randy, I don’t care how you do your business, although I do find it fascinating that you share it. In other words, I don’t subscribe due to your need or lack of it, your politics, your ideology… I just enjoy the product you provide. I also enjoy that you’re a reachable person with a personal perspective. Even large corporations need that. Look at Wendy’s Dave Thomas (who isn’t the real Dave Thomas) or Orville Reddenbacher (again), and if you remember those actors who portrayed Bartles & Jaymes (Thenk yew for yer support). But while they’re likable, they’re not reachable nor personal.

    Bang for the buck? I’m not a news junkie, so I don’t subscribe to True on that basis. You’ve mentioned that there are other similar newsletters, but I haven’t noticed them, nor am I inclined to go find them. Yours does the job well enough. So I’m getting enough bang for my buck that I’m satisfied.

    I’m not criticizing John for his decision nor am I suggesting that he’s in error. He has his reasons for spending his money elsewhere and I have mine for spending it here. Both are valid. All I’m saying is that I’d enjoy seeing you become a corporate juggernaut in achievement, although you’d probably find it more stifling than rewarding. (Comes a point when the job owns you, not the other way around.) But it’s still the bare knuckles aspect (literally or perceived) that lends its mystique to your publication.

    Become as successful media business as it suits you. But you are still This is True. Thanks for the work that you, your family, and your assistants put into it.

  3. What Mike said. Nicely put, Mike! And, as always, thank you Randy, for doing what you do the way you do it.

  4. As you said, John has the right to make up his own mind. But…I question calling anything published by Murdoch as “content-rich”!

  5. I can’t compare This Is True to other random crap I read on the internet because the writing and focus are so different, it’s like comparing apples and squirrels. I wouldn’t trade my subscription for anything. Keep it up Randy! As long as you keep writing (even with help) I’ll keep reading.

  6. Wow! Hard to believe it’s already 8 years since you moved out to Colorado (I remember looking at the pics of the temporary yurt, and your view, and turning green with envy!)

    I can’t remember how long I’ve been a paid subscriber, and I can’t remember how long I was a free subscriber before that (on & off, possibly since it was called “This Just In” back in my uni days).

    Some people may prefer to move to the “all singing, all dancing” mass media product, but I really do value the different approach you bring, not to mention the sense of humour!

    $24/yr is cheap, for the value I get. Thanks, Randy.

  7. I’m actually a bit surprised; a subscriber leaving NOT because of a disagreement with content.

    Randy, I’ve been a Preemie subby for a few years, and in all honesty I don’t read every weeks’ edition in a timely manner – I save them up for staff meetings and such when I desperately need to stay awake.

    First and foremost, I was raised to support small business when I can; This is True certainly fits that bill. Second, the stories are short and concise, which helps me develop my ADD (just kidding…)

    Third, it is the personal style that keeps me reading, and that’s what I like the most. The personal style is something I CANNOT get anywhere else; it’s purely unique to your publication(s). As long as you keep publishing, I’ll read. If you stop publishing, I’ll revisit the archives for fun.

  8. I’ve been a premium subscriber for a few years now having been introduced to your publication by a good friend of mine and I think the $24 is a small price to pay for the quality of entertainment as well as thought provoking articles.

  9. The others pretty much said it all. I have been a premium subscriber a few times, and not one a couple of times. I like the premium issues, good way to start the week, and the Friday issue I read again, and I am so glad I do.

    The most timely issue was the one about the tsunami in Japan. You scooped everyone, as I don’t watch the news on TF, nor do i read it anywhere. It’s very upsetting to me. But the tsunami news was extremely interesting. And that makes both of the issues truly worthwhile.

    Keep it up, feller, you doing good, and so are your helpers.

  10. I, for one, am just as intrigued by the guy behind TRUE as I am by TRUE itself. Long-time readers probably realize that Randy works a lot harder than most people we know, but what he says is true: 1) if you love your job, it isn’t really ‘work’, and 2) money sure is nice, but see #1.

    As for becoming a Big Media Guru: it’s only fun as long as you run the show. If Randy sold out to a media conglomerate… well, I think I can predict that it ain’t gonna happen. At least, no time soon. He’s having too much fun.

    Exactly. I truly do have fun — and it’s also fun when Assistant Becky is here, since she laughs half the time she’s here too! -rc

  11. I’m sorry, but I refuse to upgrade to iWhatever! I prefer to be able to shut off a lot of the garbage floating in cyberspace but not Randy’s musing. I suspect he’ll be back as a premium subscriber very shortly when his brain recalculates what he is missing!

  12. I have been a free reader for a couple of years and only upgraded to the premium edition not so long ago. If I had known what I was to get in the premium edition I would have upgraded years ago.

    Love your work and I am sure I will be keeping on subscibing to the premium edition from now on.

    Keep it up and I hope that “This Is True” runs for many many more years to come.

  13. I’ve tried The Daily. It’s not worth anywhere near $4/mo, because all it contains is an insipid regurgitation of the most popular news from the day before. You know, like the old paper newspaper that I stopped reading years ago.

    I’ve also tried True. Not being a newspaper is the best thing about it. Furthermore, while I would demand payment to put myself through reading The Daily more than once or twice, I would instantly sign up to pay $1 a week billed monthly or quarterly for True.

    All that to say, The Daily may have the pinnacle of payment plan marketing, but its content can’t hold a handle to True.

  14. I personally find that one of the things I MOST prefer about This is True is the length. It’s the only online newsletter I’ve ever had a paid subscription for, and I find that it works perfectly for my interest level. Some newsletters are too long and they sit in my mailbox for days or weeks before I actually read them (if I ever get around to it). My job involves staring at a computer too much already, so I get most of my news from a physical newspaper and prefer not to get anything in my email besides a personal letter that’s going to be lengthy. I know not everyone feels that way, but that’s my 2 cents.

  15. I disagree with John – I don’t WANT the “bang for the buck”. There are lots of high content publications out there, true (I mean “yes”), but I don’t subscribe to any of them. The only subscription I have is True.

    Like Jeremy, I enjoy the personal touch, the “fireside chat” approach. I invest emotionally, and feel like I’m getting a weekly email from a friend.

    I live overseas, craving American news or just an American viewpoint on things, and True satisfies the craving in a nicely nasty manner. The fact that you’re now in my home state of Colorado doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

  16. I read This Is True from top to bottom, have a few laughs, think about some of the content, and never let it sit unread in my inbox for very long. I cannot say that about every publication I subscribe to. And part of the fun, especially as a premium subscriber, is the occasional peek into your life away from work (I loved the stories about taking your new motorcycle up to those abandoned mines).

    I do wish you would revive the video stories, at least now and then; some of them were hilarious. I can’t imagine leaving This Is True for the reason this fellow did. If I ever do leave, it would be because you became like the publication he now subscribes to.

    I enjoyed doing the videos, but they weren’t bringing anything back — no income, no new subscribers, nothing. So I’m putting that time into other things instead. Sorry! -rc

  17. I have been a ‘free’ recipient for I don’t know how long. It wasn’t until just recently that I jumped from the dark side to the light side (Japan Donation special).

    Among others, I receive the NYTimes, Houston Chronicle, and USA Today in my inbox. Yes, those are paid subscriptions. Without fail, I would FIRST open T.I.T. (!) ahead of something that I had paid for. Now that I am no longer on the dark side, I *still* open T.I.T. (!) regardless.

    Format is great, the text body reflows nicely when read on the phone/PDA/leash. It will really upset me if my subscription cannot be renewed next year (hint).

    You don’t think for a millisecond that I wouldn’t accept a renewal, do you?! I may be funny in the head, but I’m not stupid! -rc

  18. Maybe you should also point out to John that the other publication also gets many thousands of dollars for advertising each month and this offsets the cost that he pays for the service. I’m sure you could provide more if you buried This is True in the same proportion of advertisements as a regular newspaper provides – last I checked it was about one and a half pages of ads for one page of articles. I prefer paying a bit extra to keep the ads at bay.

    Actually, I did point out that The Daily probably had ads. I’ve heard since that they’re flashing, in-your-face, attention-demanding ads — the worst kind, in my experience. -rc

  19. Comparing you to the Daily is not a helpful comparison for me. I value your personal style (even when it rubs me up the wrong way 😉

    It’s a similar thing to why I choose to buy beer from a smaller brewer (e.g. http://www.applefordbrewery.co.uk/ ) rather than only drink the slightly cheaper national or international brands….

    +1 for the guy who left, though, for giving the feedback.

    Just so. And I agree: if I can’t get a nice amber ale, I’ll choose water over mass-produced swill — which includes Colorado’s Coors. -rc

  20. The fact that True is a series of short ‘blurbs’ is probably what I like most. With most ‘news’ you have this long dry article and no way of telling if you will enjoy it or if it will make you think (headlines can be very misleading so it is kinda a crap shot).

    This is True has just the right length. And if you are interested in the story there is generally enough information in the blurb to google ‘extra reading’ easily enough. Though I honestly wouldn’t mind a bit more ‘hand-holding’ from true in that regard :D.

    Currently a leecher, but that is mostly because of my financial reasons. Between eating fresh vegetables and fruits every now and then and subscribing to true. . . well I love fresh fruit. However, should I end up with extra cash sometime even after having fresh fruit/vegetables every day This is True is one of the items highest on my wishlist entertainment budget (and by far the most affordable so it may very well be the first)!

    If by hand-holding you mean links to stories, I did an experiment with it once (in Premium, as it happens), and the readers thought it added clutter without adding value. They said they could google details easily enough — especially since I name names — and the links were sometimes broken by the time they tried them. They were also a PITA to keep with the story to do it, so with all those negatives and few positives, I deemed that feature unneeded. -rc

  21. I have had to unsubscribe from True a couple of times due to financial issues, but resubscribing has always been the very first luxury I allow back when things start to pick up again. There is no other news source I read (or view) with as much interest or delight as True, and as long as it keeps the same spirit, I don’t see myself ever permanently unsubscribing (and I hope to never have to unsubscribe even temporarily again). Thanks for all you do.

  22. I know what a great deal True is since I now have to pay nearly $100 for the Cape Cod Times online for 6 months and I have to pay for the NYTIMES on line now. Both very expensive and give me fewer chuckles than True.

  23. I am the “John in Texas” that started this thread…

    I am happy to be the catalyst for Randy to reiterate his value proposition and thank his supporters. He may indeed see me back as a premium subscriber, although I expect the free edition will keep me satisfied as long as he continues to (generously) offer it.

    I do agree with Andre in San Francisco that “The Daily” may not have been the best example for comparison, except that it is the only other publication to which I subscribe that is in the same price range AND delivered electronically. (My Wall Street Journal is delivered elctronically, but it is in a different price range and serves a different business purpose.)

    As Dean martin used to say, “Keep those cards and letters coming!”

  24. I retired from the Air force and took a job as a network engineer in the Azores primarily to get away from the stupidity I read about in True (and I am originally from St. Pete Florida where a disproportionate number of your stories originate from). As the resident computer geek, I see enough stupidity in my daily job that I don’t really need to read about other stupid people doing stupid things. ZT only infuriates me having to deal with it in a military life for so long. ZT is alive and well in the Air Force! No, I read the stories but what I really look for, and miss when you leave it out, is the Honorary Unsubscribe. These people are the ones that books should be written about; people with interesting lives who provided a real contribution to humanity. Keep up the good work and know that I’ll continue to support you as a Premium Subscriber.

  25. Randy, You were one of the first examples of “bottom up” businesses using a basic digital service (email). Today, it seems you have grown your business very nicely and are able to enjoy the life of an independent business person, which is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

    To be free to publish as you see fit is a precious thing. We must fight to keep independent sources of information, humor, and commentary alive and well.

  26. I too read the free version for years and decided this year to buy the subscription because I was certain I was missing some really fun reading! I love to get a story from a location where I have a relative/friend living and send it to them with some ‘personal’ questions’ from me! They have now bought subscriptions, we have so much fun with this publication, unlke many others we have in common. Keep doing it your way…it works! Thanks for being a pioneer!

  27. I agree with those who pointed out what a great publication True is. In addition to that, there’s another reason I keep my premium subscription – because I want publications like True to exist. I subscribe to my local paper even though I fairly often don’t have time to read it because I want to live in the kind of town that has a local paper. I vote for school levys even though I send my kids to church school because I want to live in a community that values its kids and provides them with a quality education.

    We hear all these complaints about how horrible things are on the internet but if we aren’t willing to support the good, it will disappear. I want the kind of internet where True can live long and prosper!

    Keep up the good work, Randy et al.

  28. I haven’t been a premium subscriber long – but something struck me a moment ago. The free edition only had 4 stories? WHY did I not upgrage sooner?? I’ve enjoyed the additional stories more than I can say and I can’t imagine not having them. I may not like all of the taglines (which IMHO are the potatoes to go along with the meat of the publication) but it does make me think, more often than not, which I admire and appreciate. As long as I can and/or as long as it published, I plan on being a paying “customer”. I plan on getting my children involved as I often involve my wife with the more entertaining and outrageous stories. I even keep the free edition flowing to share those stories with friends/family that I think will enjoy them as well. Keep it up Randy, for as long as you can. Please!

  29. I have enjoyed “This Is True” for too many years on the free and when I could with the Premium version. You as a reporter/writer/editor & funnyman this is what make This Is True a great publication. I bought Stella Awards book that you put together. This too was in my opinion a eye opening unbiased insight to the troubles that have occurred in the court rooms.

    Please keep your format. As the late Tim Russer made “Meet the Press” a Sunday dig to inform; you sir give Mondays a humorous spin to the abstract events of the worlds happenings.

    Keeping in the spirit of “This is True” you hired some writers that share similar writing abilities thank you for this; also to Thank you for all your hard work.

  30. –quote–
    “I keep asking them, “Are you having fun?” and the answer is consistently “Yes!” And then they get paid. :-)”
    –end quote–

    –humor–
    I cannot believe this, you are the most tyrannical bosses I’ve ever heard of! I can’t believe people still work for you!!

    You INTERROGATE your employees, hold their checks over their heads and if they don’t answer in the way you want you don’t pay them??!!??
    –end humor–

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist….

    I figured someone would go there. -rc

  31. I’m a premium subscriber who plans never to unsubscribe. My thought on your ’empire’ is that it has become an empire; so many people pay attention to what you say that you have real influence. You’re not that different from Rupert Murdoch, except in the sense that you *have* some sense! In other words, before too long you’ll be at his level. This would be a good thing; your influence could could help swing the pendulum *back* toward rational conversation and compromise in public / private / media life.

    I don’t think I’ll ever be at his level (of influence, of circulation, of income), but then, I don’t really want to be that big. Still, I appreciate your vote of confidence. -rc

  32. I suppose those of us who can otherwise afford the premium edition, are not somehow at odds with Randy, and unsubscribe anyway probably puts us in a minority, but we do exist.

    I understand John’s perspective, though I arrived via a different path. I do agree Randy’s publication has evolved (seems like I have the first paperback collection and it came with a 3.5″ disk) from an email newsletter to include other newsletters, multiple web sites with differing topics, a blog and a forum. Yet, I never thought he’d turned into a mini-Murdoch.

    When Premium subscriptions came out, I upgraded because I didn’t want to miss any stories. That became the status quo. However, a couple years ago, I decided to re-evaluate the need for the additional stories. I found it had become less important to read all the stories. While no one can replicate Randy’s brand of humor, at least I feel there are other talented folks writing about such things, and the plethora of information implies one can sip from multiple sources like the “free edition” for their weekly fix.

    Would I upgrade if the free edition ceased to exist? Probably not. In 1994, there was nothing you could compare to this publication. Now, unless you live or die by Randy’s taglines, there are a few sources.

    I feel comfortable with enjoying the free edition, not only because Randy appears fine with the approach, but I do similar in my small business. I design products and provide the production files free on the web site. Consumers can either take the files and roll their own, or buy from my store. Enough people save the hassle and purchase to make it worthwhile continuing the effort.

    Perhaps it is a mistake to provide this information. I wouldn’t want to be seen as belittling another small business owner. I guess if it shows up on the site, the moderator(s) deemed it acceptable.

    It’s my blog, and I personally moderate all comments.

    And I’m not sure why you would think I’d block your comment, since the whole point of this post is to acknowledge that Premium subscriptions are not for everyone. (Nothing new, of course: when I said the same thing in 2006, there was a big uproar.) -rc

  33. You’re a gem. I can’t afford the Premium edition of “This is true”, but I follow everything you write. You seem to be what we Aussies call a “fair dinkum bloke”, your community service speaks for itself, and you like to give the “underdog” a fair go. More power to you.

    I know not everyone can afford an upgrade, even if it’s “only” $24, since I’ve been there myself. So I’ve always said you’re welcome on the free distribution for as long as you’d like. And I mean it. -rc

  34. Rupert Murdoch, eh? I am afraid not, not unless you dumb down T.I.T. heavily. And nobody wants that, I believe.
    I agree with most of previous posters in that True can not be valued in comparison with regular news outlets. Even more so, I would not dream of paying 4 dollars for The Daily. Not when there is so much free news content on the internet. True, I can not compare in the US, but around here, quite much everything that is on paper, is on the website, and more.

    Still even though I am on free sub now, I would love to pay 2$ a month for True, that is well worth it. Only trouble is, I am student on a budget, and while I can spare 2 bucks, putting 24 of them together while not finding something else I need for school or dorms is not always easy. I wish I could pay quarterly, but still, maybe I can give myself a present for the fifth anniversary of my subscription.

    There is, in fact, a quarterly payment option. It is a tad higher than 1/4 of $24, but only because it costs us more to go that route. Do check out the upgrade page. -rc

  35. And I’m not sure why you would think I’d block your comment, since the whole point of this post is to acknowledge that Premium subscriptions are not for everyone. (Nothing new, of course: when I said the same thing in 2006, there was a big uproar.) -rc

    I meant no accusational intent. Sometimes customers ask me for opinions on product offering from other vendors, offerings that don’t compete with anything I offer. I sometimes struggle to provide an effective perspective when I find something lacking in the solution. It’s important to offer an honest opinion that respects both the asking party and the other vendor. Such was my concern.

    Oh, I didn’t mean you were accusing. SO many “online business” people are so concerned that one should never cast any doubt that their offerings are perfect. Of course everyone in the world should buy it! But I don’t go for such conventional “wisdom.” To me, of course there are people who would not get anything out of a product, TRUE included. It’s a thought-provoking product, and as we see every week, there is a segment of the population where thought is a foreign concept, as just one example. I think of TRUE’s readers as an exceptional slice of the population, and it would be foolish to even imply that “everyone” would love it. So, my comment was simply confirming that yes, I was in fact acknowledging that fact, even though “marketers” would say it was a bad idea. Screw marketers; the truth is far more interesting. -rc

  36. I am an on and off premium subscriber. I deem the premium edition a personal luxury, as I can live without it. So why pay $24 for the premium edition?

    1.) I like to support small businesses, life for them is hard enough, but most of the ones I have dealt with had a better social conscience than the “big companies”. I like the idea that there is someone who puts pride in his/her work. Of course, there are many people like that in the big companies, but you never get the chance to see them.

    2.) If I don’t have the extra stories of the premium edition I lose nothing but a few chuckles a week. But some weeks, those are what helps me to keep my perspective.

    3.) Of course, nowadays there are more places to get products in the same line. But Randy manages to keep my interest, by sometimes challenging me so much, that I could foam from the mouth, so enraged am I by his opinion. However I know, he will argue for his opinion and for my right to challenge his opinion and I respect him for it. Sometimes he even changed my opinion, not always to his point of view, and I value that.

    Is this worth $24/year? Even in the face of cheaper alternatives?

    That is something anyone has to decide for himself/herself. For me it is worth it, when I have the money.
    So in conclusion: I think John did the right thing in unsubscribing, as he doesn’t seem to get the same excitement from the stories (any more?).

    P.S.: Please excuse the style, sometimes it is very hard to make a point in a foreign language. The only alternative left to me then is to dance as close as possible around the point.

    Your English is just fine. “Changing your mind” isn’t the point of provoking thought, though: it’s more making up your own mind. I don’t want people to believe something just because they were told to (by their teachers, their parents, “the authorities”), but rather because they’ve considered the alternatives and have come to their own conclusion. Sometimes, thought can be an end in itself; sure beats what we normally do. -rc

  37. The most interesting thing about this discussion for me is that I don’t really think of True as a news source. Upon reflection, it certainly is a news source, but for me, it is like going to a lecture as an adult on a subject I think I’ll enjoy compared to going to a class lecture as an undergraduate in a required subject. It’s not that I don’t read the New York Times; I just don’t enjoy it as much.

    I like that concept. It’s not news, it’s Graduate Studies! -rc

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