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I'll Buy Andrew Sullivan News For 20 Bucks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's a thrill to watch journalist Andrew Sullivan break away from big media companies and launch his own reader-supported, ad-free venture to continue the work that has made him so famous and successful as a true independent.

The dawn of the digital age has generally been tough on professional content producers because the Internet has disrupted many of the traditional business models that supported their livelihood. The great promise of the web, though, has always been that it will ultimately enable talented content producers to break free from the corrupting influence of the handful of giant media conglomerates that have long had a stranglehold on access to mass audiences. This cutting out of the middle-man will ultimately lead to a more direct connection between audiences and creators and more quality content.

Sullivan is one of the few figures in journalism who can pull off such a stunt now, so it may be overly optimistic to call this the beginning of a trend towards this ideal, but I hope it is. We are in dire need of mainstream, popular journalists who can achieve pure financial and editorial independence. Judging by the early results of Sullivan's foray, he's well on his way to achieving that.

Sullivan announced last week that he's leaving Newsweek/Daily Beast, and its corporate overlord IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), and launching his own company called Dish Publishing LLC. This means that his popular blog -- The Dish -- will no longer be polluted with advertising, and his regular readers will be asked to pay at least $20 a year for the site's content. More than 12,000 readers have already ponied up, according to media reports, at an average price of $28.

We hear a lot these days about the shrinking of the news industry and the negative effects of the Internet on American journalism, but we hear very little about the web's positive effects, which are numerous. For those willing to find it, there is now more fact-based, enlightening information easily available to people than ever before. I think this is bringing a wave of public enlightenment to our society and the world beyond -- the ramifications of which we really have yet to comprehend -- but in the meantime, professional journalists have struggled to keep up with social media and the explosion of information availability.
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