Five years ago, in April 2013, I launched PoliticsNC with the help of Amanda Underwood, my long-time graphic designer and web developer. I started it out of frustration. With veto proof majorities in the legislature and a Republican governor for the first time in 20 years, the GOP was dragging the state hard to the right and the Democrats had yet to figure out how to respond.
My first blogs ridiculed legislation that would create a state religion and drug test recipients of government aid while exempting recipients of corporate welfare. I took Republicans to task as well as my own party. I tried to be fair in my criticisms and resist the tribalism that has infected our political discourse.
Over the years, we’ve had a bunch of writers. I found John Wynne, a conservative Republican who was writing his own blog, and invited him to be our conservative voice. He served well until he left for law school when he learned that blogging is a tough way to make a living. We haven’t replaced him, but I’m open to another conservative writer if they can match John’s skills.
For me personally, the blog has been rewarding and fun. In 2014, PoliticsNC became a go-to site to follow the Hagan-Tillis race, the most competitive U.S. Senate race in the country. National reporters and analysts called almost daily. Our readership reached more than 30,000 per month in the three months leading up to the election. One Sunday morning, I woke up to find a quote from me above the fold in the Sunday New York Times. Not bad for a country boy from Anson County.
At one point, I openly criticized the Democrats’ strategy of trying to wrap Republican candidates around the Koch brothers and found myself warring with national strategists in blogs in the Washington Post. I made a commitment to myself when I started writing that I would say what I believed regardless of what other people thought. I might not always be right but I’m always opinionated.
Our readership has been loyal and engaged. We now have several writers who keep the pages populated. I still try to write five blogs a week though lately I’ve been so busy I’ve missed a few days.
What we haven’t been able to do is make the site profitable. Now, we’re going to move to a subscription model. In the coming weeks, we’ll unveil new tools to help people analyze North Carolina legislative and Congressional races during the 2018 cycle. We’ll work on attracting new voices and make the site a go-to place for more than just great reading.
I hope you’ll stick with us. After the primary, we’ll charge a nominal monthly fee to access the site after a limited number of free articles. Journalism in this country is hurting, in part, because we don’t pay enough to keep talented writers writing. We’re joining the increasing number of sites that will ask people like you to support people like us.
If you want in on the ground floor, a donation of $50 will get you unlimited access to PoliticsNC for a year. A donation of more than that is much appreciated. We look forward to the next five years.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >