It’s been a very interesting week over at Maryland Reporter. In the wake of an inflammatory opinion column aimed at Republicans and their alleged “narrow-minded bigot[ry],” editor and publisher Len Lazarick has been documenting the blowback with an incredible amount of candor. The negative reactions, his responses, the page view stats — everything.
The original article by columnist Barry Rascovar, “Immigration Quandary for the GOP,” is shockingly simplistic. Rascovar treats the anonymous “NO ILLEAGLES HERE” graffito as if it were official Republican doctrine and gives a four-sentence history of anti-immigration sentiment in the GOP that probably gives the Know Nothings too much credit.
As you might expect, the negative responses came pouring in. Several Republican politicians and conservative activists demanded that the column be taken down. Congressional candidate Dan Bongino called for a boycott of the site. That’s when Lazarick started reporting on the numbers. Of Maryland Reporter’s 5,600 daily-newsletter subscribers, fewer than 100 clicked on the original article when it ran last Monday.
Lazarick credited the outrage — and particularly Bongino’s call for a boycott — with gaining him two interviews on WBAL on Wednesday. Rascovar got 17 minutes on the same station on Thursday. Maryland Reporter reached their third-highest daily page-view count — 3,900 — in the General Assembly’s offseason.
Some commenters suggested that an inflammatory piece like Rascovar’s may lose readers in the long run despite providing a short-term spike in page views. But Lazarick also reported a spike in subscribers, with 100 new people signing up to receive the daily email blast.
I hope Lazarick continues to document the effect of this column on Maryland Reporter‘s readership. If it turns out to be a net gain for the site, will we see more poorly reasoned articles to make up for all the traffic lost by the informative ones?
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