NS: No, not really. I’d guess that we have a lot of respect for one another. At some point I should get his phone number from one of my contacts at MSNBC and say, ‘Hey, Chuck, let’s get a beer.’ But I think we have people that are implicitly—Andrew Sullivan, for example, at The Atlantic, has linked to us a ton of times. I’ve never had a conversation with him, but I think there people where it’s just kind of implicit: ‘Hey, we respect what you’re doing, we’re going to help you guys out.’ And vice versa. I think one other trend we saw this year is, to some extent, the consolidation of the blogosphere. I think you saw more traffic going to a smaller number of sites, whether it’s a Daily Kos or a FiveThirtyEight—or, on the other side of the spectrum, a site like the National Review or something like that. There are a certain number of go-to destinations for political coverage, and those sites, I think, have a lot of influence. Some of them are old, some of them are new—like us, or Talking Points Memo or something like that—but we’re seeing what I’d call the maturation of it, where it’s not just a million monkeys with a keyboard, it’s a hundred monkeys with a keyboard. And there’s kind of a selection process for who’s the most reliable in terms of timeliness and everything.
MG: Do you see that kind of consolidation as a simple meritocracy, or is it more complex than that?
NS: It’s mostly a meritocracy. Sometimes there are sites that take a while to get noticed. There’s one right-leaning site, The Next Right, which I think is terrific, though it’s not my political point of view. And they’re a site that, once people start to notice them, I think will be taken very seriously. Every now and then you catch a diamond in the rough, where you know it’s just a matter of time before people discover them. So there are a few inefficiencies at first. But I think it’s pretty meritocratic relative to other things, by and large—though maybe not perfectly so. Running a site, there may be a couple days when you have a million things going on, and you’re stressed about some real-life thing, or you’re sick, or something. But you have to maintain the quality: don’t dilute the brand.
Brand is really important in Internet media. Because there’s so much competition, and the barriers to entry are so low, all that you are, really, is your brand. And if you spread yourself too thin, then you’re making a real mistake, I think. Our model, certainly, is to cover things in depth, and not to try and do everything. Maybe we’ll try and have someone in Washington covering the White House. But if we do, we’ll want to make sure we do it really well.
Update: The popular vote breakdown listed in the introduction to this article has been amended to reflect the AP’s current numbers (as of November 12).