A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or Tragedy; or, perhaps both.
— James Madison
Judd Legum founded Think Progress nearly 15 years ago and grew it into a publication read by tens of millions of people. But earlier this summer, he decided to step down from his role as Editor-in-Chief, where he oversaw 40 staffers, so he could start something new.
The goal was to create a newsletter that would explain politics not as a spectator sport, but as an important institution in which we all have a responsibility to participate. He calls it “news for people that give a damn.” The name is Popular Information.
Success in this arena is never likely. After all, hundreds of thousands of people on the internet want to explain politics to you. The vast majority explain nothing to anyone. But somehow Judd has convinced a huge audience to invite him into their inboxes four days a week. Next week, he’ll be turning on paid subscriptions.
In this conversation for The Substack Podcast, my main goal was to understand what gave him the confidence to leave Think Progress, and what hole he sees in the world that he wants Popular Information to fill. We talked about how people consume political information, how our beliefs evolve over time, and why he decided to charge readers directly instead of relying on advertisements or donors.
I hope you enjoy it!