August 1, 2014

Boycott of MdReporter was a flop

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Photo illustration above by Light Brigading on Flickr Creative Commons License (Not a local event)

By Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com

We want to thank congressional candidate Dan Bongino for announcing a boycott of MarylandReporter.com on Monday morning.

Before we even had a chance to respond to him, Bongino, a Republican candidate in the 6th Congressional District, announced on Twitter that MarylandReporter.com should be boycotted until we removed an inflammatory column by Barry Rascovar attacking Maryland Republicans for their lack of compassion toward the young immigrant flood on the border with Mexico.

Of course, we didn’t remove the piece from a regular columnist, which angered many Republicans used to seeing more balanced treatment from Rascovar or at least from MarylandReporter.com.

But we did report on the blowback and the boycott that followed, and the conflagration gained us some attention on other media. In particular, I got on WBAL radio twice on Wednesday, once rudely preempted by President Obama (Democrat conspiracy!) and then back on an hour later to finish my thoughts with Mary Beth Marsden. Rascovar himself on Thursday got 17 minutes on air with WBAL talk show host C4 (listen here), who also spoke to MdGOP Chair Diana Waterman. She had written a response to Rascovar, something boycotter Bongino refused to do.

Boycott increased traffic, subscribers

As for the boycott and uproar over Rascovar, it produced the third highest daily traffic we got on the website since the General Assembly ended, with 3,900 page views and close to 1,800 unique visitors. That readership was only topped by our coverage the day after the June 24 primary, and two days in mid-May when had stories about Sen. Jim Brochin’s campaign signs being torn down by his opponent, and our annual piece about state employees who made $100,000 or more.

New subscriptions for our daily morning newsletter, which summarizes and links to all our new content and daily state roundup, also spiked a bit in the last couple of days, up to almost 5,700. SUBSCRIBE BY CLICKING HERE. The number of people actually opening the newsletter also was up to about 24% — pretty high in the eblast trade after lagging a bit during the vacation season.

This was all pretty good news for the last week in July. I joked with one of my radio colleagues that next I should get Congressman Andy Harris or Elijah Cummings to mount a boycott in order to increase our traffic.

Actually, I would just as soon not get people pissed off so much. It is not conducive to rational discussion. As Congressman Trey Gowdy told the MdGOP’s annual Red White and Blue dinner in June, “you can’t persuade people by insulting them.” I think that’s true. (A Democrat told me Gowdy doesn’t practice what he preaches.)

Thanks again to Dan Bongino. He pledged he would refuse to talk to anybody at MarylandReporter.com until the column came down. Regardless, we’ll continue to take him seriously and treat him fairly as we did just two weeks ago for a fundraiser with Sen. Rand Paul, even if other media don’t.

Oh, and thanks for the contributions on PayPal this week. We are a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit corporation and depend on the support of foundations, sponsors and donors. They’re tax deductible. DONATE HERE.

  • lenlazarick

    Here’s the email I got from Dan Bongino this morning:

    Len,

    Sad to see someone I once respected stoop to this level
    of immaturity and misplaced glee. Celebrating the fact that your
    lightly-followed forum (based on your numbers we receive 4x’s the traffic) was
    used to propagate hate-filled, disingenuous material may pay short-term
    dividends but will surely lead you down the same path as your near-extinction
    comrades in print. Please refrain from contacting me and my campaign in the
    future.

    Dan

  • I found the original article pretty alarming and tasteless. It seems so out of character. It was based on faulty reasoning that even 1st year law students know doesn’t hold up. Both parties have had bad apple’s over history, it doesn’t make the whole party racist. Diana’s response was pretty spot on in pointing out all of the problems with the piece. So let me walk you through my progression of views of MarylandReporter.com.
    Original Article posted – Shocked and angered by article not based on logic.
    Not taking article down – Fine. I understand, once “printed” it is printed.
    Celebrating the failure of a “boycott” – Grotesque. I don’t understand news outlets who act like sore winners after just winning what wasn’t really even a competition in the first place.
    It is just my opinion, but in my mind this news outlet is on probation, and in danger of losing my readership. But I am guessing that doesn’t really matter. I don’t get the impression that you really care about anything, as long as you get the web traffic. I would caution you, just because your hits went up, doesn’t mean those people are viewing you positively.

  • John L

    >>We want to thank congressional candidate Dan Bongino for
    announcing a boycott of MarylandReporter.com on Monday morning. It
    produced the third highest daily traffic we got on the website since the
    General Assembly ended, with 3,900 page views and close to 1,800 unique
    visitors.<<

    Nearly fell out of my chair laughing out loud when I read this. Way to go!

    And now I read the morning email from the estimable Mr. Bongino. For a politician he sure is thin-skinned!

    As I wrote to you earlier: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"

  • disappointedinLenforsure

    Bongino may have over-reacted, but this piece above is juvenile and counter-productive. The temptation to gloat isn’t worth the price you’re paying in credibility and respect. You would have been much wiser to just have skipped this whole follow-up piece, and probably the original column, despite your blip in clicks. Publishing Rascovar’s gratuitous stick-in-the-eye column means I won’t be donating again to the MdReporter; this item cinches my decision.

  • Cliff Owen

    Goodbye MarylandReporter. I hope to say goodbye to Maryland soon too.