by Patrick Appel
A reader writes:
The reader who got disheartened to know that so many of Andrew's posts are actually written by Patrick or others should remind himself that this isn't so very different from political speech-writers, historians' researchers, or other assistant roles. The point is that, at the end of the day, Andrew Sullivan remains solely responsible for all of the content posted under his name on his blog--he is the brand, the editor-in-chief, and whether or not he's the first author, at the end of the day it reflects his opinions and beliefs.
Another reader adds:
I would have to disagree with the other reader and say that I enjoy and agree with the approach that the Daily Dish generally takes with regards to by-lines. In some respect it akin to that of The Economist or to politicians who both have a bevy of 'anonymous' writers making contributions to their daily workings. And in many respects the Dish is an institution rather than the more typical blog format. Thanks to your and Mr. Bodenner's work it is far more than just a soapbox but is also a sort of internet aggregator that makes actual value decisions, unlike Google. That Mr. Sullivan doesn't type out every single letter is no more detrimental than the fact that Mr. Obama doesn't write out every word in his speeches. If anything it's a major benefit since it allows the pace of interesting updates to be far faster than any one person could hope to maintain for a long period of time.
I think I slowly became aware, over the last few years, that Sully-on-the-web was the product of more than just Andrew Sullivan proper. But of course from day to day it does seem like it's basically just him talking. Very successful enterprise, really, this blog - maybe that's obvious to say, but so what. I enjoy reading it (and sometimes writing in) very much, and clearly so do many others. I think you all have have reason to be proud. And I don't think Andrew or you or Chris has tried to mask the process at all.
For the opposition:
I would like to be sure whose thoughts are being expressed in a given post. What you are sure Andrew would write if he wrote it, is not good enough for me.
A second dissent:
So, forced to choose between honesty and a unitary voice, you/Andrew/whomever the hell I've just emailed chose...dishonesty.
As I said: nearly everything I write is a naked link or excerpt. If excerpting without comment seems inappropriate, because I believe Andrew will want to respond to a linked post or because I'm unsure about his position, I make sure that Sullivan sees and edits it before posting. I never pretend to be Andrew (for instance, neither Chris nor I ever use the term "I" or "me" when writing under Andrew's name). The reader who complains about posts where I write what "Andrew would write if he wrote it" misunderstands the nature of our work relationship. Any post more than a sentence or two long is Andrew's handiwork. Another reader asks:
If the intent is a solitary voice and you don't use your own bylines - why bother to do it when he's out of town? I mean either it's important or it isn't, the voice is solitary or it isn't. I'm going to guess that the reason is that he absolutely isn't participating for a week and you're being very upfront about that. (Which is good). But ....well if you can be trusted to express for him when he's there, why can't you express for him in that solitary voice when he isn't?
I think of the system we employ as an intellectual labor line with Chris and me doing the bulk of the research and Andrew doing nearly all of the writing. Chris and I package information for easy consumption by Andrew. He is the irreplaceable ingredient in the Dish, and he does a tremendous amount of the work, more than either Chris or I. My and Chris's work is highly circumscribed. Our hands are less tied when writing under our own names during Andrew's vacations, which is why we use bylines at such times.
The various responses to my and Chris's role on the Dish demonstrates something I notice each time Andrew takes a break: for some readers this blog is primarily a more intelligent version of Google News and for others it is mostly a chance to connect to Andrew Sullivan the person. We try our best to serve both types of reader.