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One of the bleak realities of our modern Gilded Age is that the traditional ads for eyeballs business model that has worked for longer than any of us have been alive is being destroyed by Google and Facebook. Craigslist received plenty of scorn for supposedly killing newspapers in the 1990s, but they were just a harbinger of the hellish world to come for publishing. Because busting up monopolies apparently isn’t cool anymore, we all must live with the fact that everyone in this industry is depending on Google both for traffic generation and ad revenue. The Department of Justice is only just now taking on Google over its monopoly.

Talking Points Memo’s owner Josh Marshall wrote an aptly titled article “Why Is Your News Site Going Out of Business?” and he shared the following chart he made of TPM’s programmatic advertising revenue on Twitter.

You don’t have to be in finance school to know that any chart going down and to the right is bad. What Marshall goes on to describe in the piece is a lot of what happened to Jezebel after Paste acquired it, where Google is basically some cranky old prude who won’t let anyone monetize naughty words like sex or politics. We at Splinter get hit by this less than they do, but you’re still reading copy from a guy who once lost his full-time job not long after Google fundamentally devalued his entire line of work. A lot of the focus in media centers on the clusterfuck of VCs who don’t seem to understand this fundamental weight on the industry, but the root causes here are the untouchable monoliths sitting out in California.

Which is why we’re asking you to subscribe to Splinter. Depending on monopolies is no way to live, and we want to build a sustainable business around this great website. We’re dedicated to keeping the vast majority of content free for everyone to read, but we also don’t want to just ask you to give us $8/month or $60/year out of the goodness of your heart, so there will be some gated content for subscribers. There are some political ideas we are still kicking around, and there will be a sports newsletter catching you up on the must-see plays and stories from the week.

There’s also a super ultra top-secret Discord channel where only cool kids can come and hang out with the Splinter staff during big events like election night. And of course, it wouldn’t be a true journalism subscription offer without some swag. Every subscriber gets a free Splinter T-shirt with the same awesome logo on it, and if you sign-up for a year, you get an embroidered Splinter ball cap too.

It would be wonderful if we could all wake up each day and be paid for our labor commensurate with its impact on the business—but this is America damnit—we will all be underpaid by the market, and we will either learn to live with it or we will go crazy trying (we’re going crazy).

Google is Skynet and so much more, and if you could only blame one entity for all the chaos media is going through, the “don’t be evil” company would be it. We understand that there are many websites out there that need everyone’s support, but that just speaks to the degree of the problem this industry faces, and we would be humbled if we could make the cut into your monthly media budget. Please subscribe to Splinter and subscribe to Jezebel. We all must support each other in these troubled times, because Lord knows the monopolies in the Valley won’t.

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