Earlier today, the Washington Post announced that it had acquired the Volokh Conspiracy blog (shortly after WaPo blogger Ezra Klein announced his departure from the paper). There was little fanfare and no advance warning to VC readers. I found out an hour ago, when I was trying to read the VC and found myself redirected to the WaPo blogroll.
For those who don’t know the Volokh Conspiracy, it’s a truly valuable site, where law professors and other scholars—mostly of a conservative or libertarian bent—explain legal and constitutional controversies (among other things) in plain English. A wonderfully quirky blog, you’re likely to find posts about NSA spying next to posts about grammar or Tolkien.
It reminds me of another right-of-center site that I know, which is why I’m so fascinated to see how the WaPo venture plays out. Apparently, the plan is that, after six months, the currently-free content on the VC will go behind the Post’s paywall. That prompted some furious comments from regular VC readers—well, that plus the fact that Volokh is joining up with liberal media. At first, I felt a similar pang of regret about VC “selling out” to Jeff Bezos. But on reflection, I think this is a positive development.
I don’t think that the VC contributors will be tempted to drift leftwards just because they’re being published in the Post. Heavens, they’re mostly tenured professors with secure positions and no need to curry favor with the Post’s editorial tastemakers. Instead, I think there’s an opportunity to drive some thoughtful independents/liberals to the Volokh Conspiracy, because now it has the Post’s imprimatur.
And as for the paywall—as we know from Ricochet, a modest paywall is small price for solid content, and has the great virtue of attracting serious, thoughtful comments. For those of you who follow Volokh: what do you think of this latest development?