On Monday, The O’Reilly Factor’s Jesse Watters went to Cornell University to interview students about a recent news article claiming that 96 percent of the $600,000 in faculty donations went to Democratic candidates. According to the article, only 15 out of the 323 donors gave to conservative causes. Watters was kicked off campus by the university’s media officials.
William A. Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell and conservative blogger for his independent conservative outlet, Legal Insurrection, found the statistics “completely predictable.” He labeled the event as an example of the Streisand Effect, which, according to Jacobson, is:
“‘The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.'”
The story has been picked up by both liberal and conservative news outlets nationwide.
Last week, Jacobson spoke to our Independent Media class about Legal Insurrection. In 2008, Jacobson started off with few computer skills and little knowledge of what a blog was. Today, his outlet sees over 45,000 page views per day.
Jacobson worked alone writing articles for the first two years. He hit one million visits after eleven and a half months, and took on the help of one of his undergraduate students. By 2011, Legal Insurrection began to bring on contributing writers and volunteers.
Jacobson discussed the struggles of maintaining his site and the difficulties of generating new readers. Since many conservative websites have gone corporate, Legal Insurrection relies heavily on linking and sharing. Its partner, College Insurrection, serves as an aggregator of news, but rarely sees much traffic.
Most of the profit the website generates comes from donations, fundraising drives and advertisements. When asked if he would ever consider quitting his teaching career at Cornell to focus on Legal Insurrection, Jacobson was hesitant. As of now, Legal Insurrection employs two full-time writers and Jacobson makes no profit.
Legal Insurrection illustrates the essence of independent media. Like other indy outlets we have studied in class, the website fills a niche in society and provides a platform for voices that are suppressed by mainstream media.