By Brian Stelter, CNN Business
Bari Weiss says its publication on Substack, Common Sense, is meant to be “the newspaper of the 21st century, after all.” I start off as the opinion page I want to read.
A year after leaving The New York Times, Weiss has not fallen into obscurity, as her critics hoped. Quite the contrary: it has amassed over 100,000 subscribers, including enough paying supporters to hire staff. âI made a lot more money than I thought I could in journalism,â she remarked to me, âbut I’m making less because I hired four people, about to to be five, so I’m putting it all back because I really, really, really believe in this model.
I recently interviewed Weiss about his business model; on freedom of expression; and “awakened orthodoxy”. The full interview is now available on the “Trusted Sources” podcast, and it will air on CNN Sunday morning.
Listen to the podcast here:
In her common sense argument, Weiss wrote, âThere are tens of millions of Americans who are neither on the far left nor on the far right who think the world has gone mad. So how did the world go crazy? This is one of the first things I asked him.
The problem of “self-censorship”
“Thought crimes” are a priority for Weiss. His concerns revolve around âself-censorshipâ unleashed by small but noisy groups and powerful but cowardly leaders. “You and I both know, and it would be illusory to pretend otherwise,” she said, “to touch on a growing number of subjects that have been considered ‘third rail’ by mainstream institutions and more and more by some of the technologies companies will damage their reputation; maybe you lose your job; sometimes your children are demonized too. And so what is happening is a kind of internal self-censorship. Here are four of his key points:
– “What is happening is the transformation of these sane institutions of American life.” It’s the news media. These are the publishing houses. These are the Hollywood studios. These are our universities. And they shrink, drastically, what is okay to say and what is not. And you and I both know that you don’t need a C-suite decree for people to feel it. All they need is to look at an example.
– âAs we learned from the Trump administration, institutions are just people. Institutions are just people. And so if an institution – whose job it is to defend, say, liberalism in the broad sense – decides not to do it anymore, why would it be a surprise, then, for this institution to become illiberal? “
– Leadership is key: âThis would all change if the people charged with defending, you know, the mission of these institutions, which have taken decades and decades, sometimes more than that to build, stand up and say, ‘No “. Got up and said, ‘If you think an editorial is literally causes violence, maybe journalism is not the right career for you. ‘ Until we see that happen, I think we’re going to continue to see a lot of these institutions bleeding people out of the New Awakened Orthodoxy.
– “Note that there is currently a gulf between what people are ready to say at their kitchen table, in the comfort and confidence of their loved ones, their family – and then what they are ready to say on Twitter. Often times, they’re literally two different characters. Or at least that’s what I found. I’m trying to say ‘No. Let’s have these private conversations in public. The only way the culture will change is if we have the courage and the bravery to do it and show people that you can do it and that you can survive and not just survive, you can thrive. And I have never felt freer or more excited about my work than now.
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