Our Migration to Rumble and Locals

Over the past few months, I’ve explained the thought process behind our decision to start producing a nightly, one-hour live program on Rumble. In essence, we viewed it as a way to dramatically expand the reach and impact of the journalism we do here. For better or worse, the inescapable reality is that there are millions of people who will only consume news through video, while millions of others prefer to consume it through written journalism.

Given that my view has always been that a journalist has the responsibility to attempt to maximize the impact of one’s work — there is no such thing as good journalism that fails to reach a large number of people and offer them new information and different ways of understanding the world — the decision to produce this nightly show, though very work-intensive, was one I viewed as indispensable to advancing that objective. Beyond that, the ability to use new audio-visual technology and a new state-of-the-art studio enables us to make our journalism even more effective and comprehensible to large numbers of people.

That Rumble has repeatedly proven its commitment to defying pressures and even directives to censor voices — in other words, it is intended to be a real free speech alternative to Google’s YouTube and other increasingly repressive Big Tech platforms — only enhanced my desire to use my journalism and audience to fortify that platform. Many platforms now claim they are devoted to free speech values but quickly capitulate as soon as doing so becomes more convenient or beneficial than resisting. By contrast, Rumble has proven — such as when they rejected France’s demand that it censor RT and other Russian media as a condition to remaining in France — that it would rather suffer short-term losses than violate their core values by obeying unjust censorship commands.

Though the debut of our show on Rumble — SYSTEM UPDATE — occurred just over a month ago, the success of the show has exceeded all of our expectations. Several episodes have attracted over a million people, while each one routinely exceeds 150,000 or 200,000. The show we did last Friday night — in which we reported on an exclusive story: we obtained a chilling, secret judicial order from a Brazilian judge that threatened social media platforms including Rumble and Twitter with large fines unless they immediately ban numerous users, all without any evidence or even rationale provided — was watched by more than a half-million people. As Rumble announced today, the audience we attracted in December was 2.2 million unique views, and only halfway through January we have already doubled that number this month with 4.5 million views.

At the same time that we want to reach a new audience that, we want to ensure that the readership we have now continues to receive ample written journalism and analysis. Although the launch of our show was extremely-time consuming and thus did decrease the amount of written journalism we have been able to produce the last couple of months (as has the much-improved yet still-ongoing health crisis in my family), we have continued to produce original written reporting. We also intend to continue publishing full transcripts for each SYSTEM UPDATE episode and interview we broadcast, and improve even further the quality of the transcripts so they more closely approximate our written articles.

The only way this new live nightly show could work is if it were highly professionalized. That required building a new state-of-the-art studio, hiring a large team of in-studio technical professionals and a team to work with me on the editorial content, along with a significant advertising budget (which we have yet to use) to promote the show and attract an ever larger audience. An article this week from Rolling Stone, largely intended as a hit piece on Rumble, contained a reasonably fair section on our new show and noted that SYSTEM UPDATE “has 15 employees working in [our] Rio de Janeiro studio, and seven more on the editorial side.”

In other words, Rumble made a very significant investment to enable this program to succeed, and it is investing even more in promoting the show. As you might imagine, negotiations involving this level of resources and commitment on both their part and ours involved a great deal of horse-trading, concessions, and give-and-take.

One of Rumble’s conditions for investing so much in our program was that we move our written journalism to Locals, the community-based publishing platform which they purchased last year. This was not something we originally wanted to do. We have had nothing but the best of experiences with Substack, and I continue to believe Substack is an excellent and important platform for empowering independent journalists and providing them a way to exercise full editorial freedom, free of external pressures to censor. But for reasons I fully understand, Rumble was adamant that we move from Subtack to Locals as part of this deal, and that was a condition we ultimately accepted.

Our one condition for this move was that Locals upgrade its software and platform so that our written articles there render as professionally as they do here on Substack. The engineers at Locals worked for months and improved everything to meet that standard. The last written article we published on Substack — on how the U.S. Security State is leveraging the threat to ban TikTok from the U.S. to commandeer the power to censor that site — was co-published on Locals, and you can see the quality of that publication on Locals here.

With respect to our written journalism, Locals will function much the same way as Substack has. Each time we publish a new article, they will send you an email automatically notifying all subscribers of the new article. Beyond the ability to publish our written journalism there, we will continue to publish the full written transcripts for our show there within twenty-four hours of the airing of SYSTEM UPDATE, exclusively for our subscribers. You will also have full access to the 20-30 minute after-show we do on Locals following the live broadcast of SYSTEM UPDATE on Rumble. That after-show is interactive: we take audience questions, respond to your feedback, and hear your ideas for guests we should interview and topics we should cover. The platform has other community-based features we will soon begin using that will provide even more quality content.

As I’ve explained several times over the last few months, anyone who is already a paid subscriber to our Substack will receive automatic, free and full membership to Locals. To sign up, all you need to do is go to my Locals page — here — enter the same email address you use for Substack, and then click “forgot password.” Locals will instantly email you a new password and you will have full access to the Locals platform. You will begin receiving email notices every time I have a new written article or there is a new transcript posted to the show. The new, free Locals membership will last for however much time you have remaining on your Substack subscription (if, for instance, you have eight months remaining on your Substack subscription, then you will automatically receive eight months of membership to our Locals community at no additional cost.)

From here on out, all of our written journalism and other content will be appear exclusively on Locals. We know that new changes can sometimes be unsettling or annoying, but we would not have agreed to migrate our written journalism to Locals if it did not provide the same functionality, ease of use, and quality as Substack does. The Locals platform will help strengthen the Rumble show, and the Rumble show will help strengthen the written journalism on Locals. We believe that this will enable us to reach all-new audiences that were previously unavailable or unreachable to us, while continuing the same work we have done here over the last two years.

I am very grateful to Substack for the support it provided. As I said, I regard the site as extremely important in the fight against online censorship. And I will do what I can to support, promote and help it and its writers however I can. But we are very excited by our new nightly program, the new audiences we are already reaching with it, and the ability to consolidate our written and broadcast journalism in one place. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us by email. We hope to see you at Rumble and Locals shortly if you are not already there.

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