This blog commences its 17th year of publication today, which makes it something of an institution in Alberta political commentary. 

The blogger in 2023 (Photo: Daniel St. Louis).

On Christmas Eve, someone I don’t know called me “the hardest working blogger in Alberta,” which might be true, at least if you go by the number of words published. also has a loyal following, although I don’t really have a handle on how big that following is – a certain number of people who come here regularly because they enjoy what they read and a literate, rational, knowledgeable, and mostly respectful group of regular commenters.

It was appropriate, I suppose, that one of those regular commenters sent me a link yesterday to a Boxing Day story in the Guardian headlined, “I’ll never stop blogging: it’s an itch I have to scratch – and I don’t care if it’s an outdated format.”

Perhaps my pseudonymous interlocutor thought the headline reflected my own attitudes about, previously known as Alberta Diary and St. Albert Diary – which up to a point it does. But we need, Dear Readers, to talk about that. 

The author of the Guardian piece is right that one of the great things about blogs is that bloggers can write as much or as little as they like on any topic that appeals to them. It’s also one of the great disadvantages of that format, however, as it’s not easy to build a readership, and increasingly it’s a problem to keep it. 

The blogger before there were blogs, circa 1975 (Photo: Martlet Staff).

And even when a blog’s readership is respectably big, as the analytics show this blog’s is, it’s not easy to make much money from it. 

The Guardian commentator, Simon Reynolds, is also right that blogs are an outdated format, and arguably this one is doubly outdated, since I try to write political columns of the sort that once up on a time appeared in newspapers, if anyone recalls what those things were.

I digress, but a novel I’ve been reading this week reminded me what I loved the most of all about newspapers: It was the smell of the ink. 

“What he likes is the smell of printer’s ink on the first copy off the presses at one in the morning,” wrote Juan Gómez-Jurado (or at least his translator, Nick Caistor) of a character, “the kind of newspaper that leaves your fingers black and whose front page is a slap in the face for somebody. All the rest is public relations.”


Well, those days were fun, but they’re gone. No point mourning them, which was pretty much what I thought when I started to write this blog in 2007. 

The thing is, though, not only has the newspaper business gone to hell in a handbasket, now social media is going to the same place via the same mode of transportation.

This is a serious problem for blogs like this one if they are to maintain their readership and generate a little revenue through online attention – and a little is the correct terminology when it comes to ads like the ones you see on this blog.

Can this blog turn into a viable retirement project as I thought a couple of years ago? Without changes, probably not, the way the worm is turning. 

Facebook was once a key part of the business strategy for successful bloggers. No more. Pay for advertising or you’ll reach virtually no one there. Twitter was the key venue for spreading the word – before that South African billionaire renamed the place and turned it into, as the late Hunter S. Thompson said a little unfairly of the entire “profession” of journalism, “a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector.” 

So don’t expect to find many readers there any more either. 

A few online and print publications pick up occasional posts – I am particularly grateful to The Tyee, which nowadays runs better Alberta news and commentary from Vancouver than any daily newspaper in this province, and Alberta Views Magazine, which still puts ink on paper. They certainly draw in some new regular readers.

There are many online publications, by the way, that will happily steal copy from a regularly published blog like this – and sometimes do some pretty weird things with it. Here’s an example. The atmosphere minister? (As for that byline, please don’t send me any links, thank you very much.) 

There are other social media services – but there are only so many hours in a day and I doubt Threads (@climenhaga) or Bluesky ( will ever deliver the number of readers Twitter once did. 

There’s Substack and like subscription newsletter services – but I can’t say I’m in love with the idea of disappearing behind a paywall. That said, it would certainly be less work, although I know it would deprive some regular readers of access to my posts and me of access to advertising revenue, small is it may be. Would subscriptions make up for that? Hard to say without trying. 

Meanwhile, there are inevitably costs – among them, Internet hosting, email, application subscriptions, corporate searches, occasional FOIPs, web updates, and domain names – not just to be used but to be kept out of the hands of online bad actors. 

One could hound one’s readers for donations like a right-wing “news” site, I suppose, but that’s distasteful, and probably counterproductive over the long term. And like it or not, subscription services do your hounding for you.

So what to do? That remains an open question. 

Nothing will change tomorrow. Or probably next year. But change may be coming just the same. 

Readers’ thoughts are appreciated. 

David J. Climenhaga

Join the Conversation


  1. I enjoy this blog immensely, and I will continue to read it for as long as possible. With newspapers, especially Postmedia owned publications, they are just echo chambers, and extensions of the Conservatives, who don’t even resemble the legitimate Conservatives that used to exist, such as Peter Lougheed. Instead, we have columnists, like Licia Corbella, Lorne Gunter and David Staples, among others, who proudly wave the UCP and CPC banners, and regardless of how bad these political parties are, these columnists make them look like saints, while constantly bashing Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau. I remember when newspaper columnists had integrity, and they weren’t a public relations person for politicians and political parties. When you read what columnists wrote, or other articles, for that matter, you could believe what you were reading. These columnists were able to take politicians to task for doing something wrong. Nowadays, they are silent, and would rather see infractions swept under the carpet. These Conservative representatives don’t question things such as the Dining Car restaurant issue involving Danielle Smith, but were using it as advertising for the premier, because she was selling it. The recent trip to Dubai, by Danielle Smith, and a large amount of UCP associates and members was never scrutinized. Neither was a whole load of other major mistakes that cost us so much money, including the most recent one where various coal mining companies are having a lawsuit against the UCP for almost $11 billion, for not following through on contract agreements. Looking at letters to newspapers, and The Sun stands out for this, and it’s still more blaming and bashing Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau, while nothing is said about the very pricey boondoogles of the UCP. Also, instead of blaming the previous government to the NDP in Alberta, the Alberta PCs, who did so many very costly missteps, which cost us hundreds of billions of dollars, and made a horrific mess of what Peter Lougheed had done right, they will make any unfounded excuses they can and say Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau are responsible. Anyone who writes a letter that explains the contrary, would never see their letters published. If they are printed, they are very highly edited, leaving key points of information out. Comment sections in newspapers also contain people who bash, and insult anyone who has legitimate concerns with the UCP and CPC parties, because of what they are doing wrong. The UCP regained power, and one of the reasons for it, was that these newspaper columnists and others in the media never criticized them for their major mistakes.

  2. “There’s Substack…” I paid the yearly $50 US subscription for two big names. When renewal time rolled around, in both cases Substack extended the subscription automatically without consulting the reader. Luckily my credit card had expired so nothing happened. Even my sub par Postmedia morning paper allows me to choose whether to extend or not.
    I renewed Big Name Number One because he churns out excellent and hard hitting copy on a regular basis. As for BN Number Two, DJC produces better stories in a week than the former does in a year. No renewal, but plenty of hounding to do so.
    In fairness, both writers can be accessed for free, but to me that’s not right. If a blog is worthwhile, readers should pony up. DJC has his reasons but judging from my experience his reluctance to get involved with Substack is understandable.
    No matter where David’s blog ends up, he’s been a seventeen year courageous and literary marvel.

  3. Hi David,
    Another blog Ive read for many years (bikesnobnyc) has had similar comments and last year put out a couple of requests for voluntary donations; either one time or regular. I don’t know what amount came in, but apparently it was enough to hold off paywalling. If that’s something you set up, I’d participate. Thanks for writing!

  4. I read your blog and only one other every day you post. The other is a Formula 1 blog operated by long-time journo Joe Saward. So here are my two cents worth:

    1. Increase revenue by (a) hosting live events online and charging a fee to participate; (b) writing & selling books on related topics; or (c) selling merch like mugs, mouse pads or stickers.


    2. Decreasing costs by (a) joining with other bloggers to share overhead ie one site to read 2 or 3 bloggers; or (b) transforming your blog into a regular column on the websites of mags like The Tyee or Alberta Views.

    That’s all I got, Dave. I’m sure you’ve considered and rejected most/ all of them. There’s always Lotto Max.

  5. And I thoroughly agree with you in regards to the Tyee and Alberta Views. I found Alberta Views by searching for pieces from Graham Thomson, and the Tyee by searching for Andrew Nikiforuk. I would also suggest the Walrus as another print magazine.

  6. It is a sad state of affairs out there for journalists and open access to information. I don’t remember what it was but something happened in 2016 and suddenly it seemed even more than ever the “wrong” opinions became increasingly difficult to find online. Now EVERYTHING on the internet is broken. I don’t think that was the intention per se, but here we are.

    In many cases the status of the web today reminds me a lot of web1.0. Link aggregators, bloggers, commentators, often times are much more effective at circulating journalists work than social media or god forbid google.

    With newspapers long ago deciding they would rather pay shareholders than journalists, a project such as this one (which honestly is legendary) I’d more essential than ever, of which I’m sure you’re quite aware.

    The problem with substack is it has the same vulnerabilities as Twitter and Facebook, you have no control
    Over the platform, and they can boot you if they want to; and that’s before it’s bought or destroyed by another tech bro.

    In all honesty I also think that appealing for subscriptions (I wouldn’t necessarily call them donations, you’re doing a lot of work) is fine and makes the most sense, you don’t have to paywall anything & folks who can afford to contribute monthly can do it then.

    If I am being really honest I think it’s high time some institutions, unions, community organizations, NGOs, churches (?), need to break out the chequebook and start supporting some of these hard working journalists. It is far too important to be a plaything for billionaires.

  7. Hello Anonymous,
    The points you make in your comment are, unfortunately, all too accurate. What passes for commentary by Nat Pest columnists is pretty well only fact-free neoliberal rubbish, often accompanied by name-calling.
    I love DJC’s informative and well-reasoned blogging, and I check it every day to see what’s new and to read the comments.
    I think that it’s fair to pay something towards DJC’s expenses and as a thank you for the time you spend researching and writing. I would be willing to make more regular contributions, although not by automatic billing of my account or credit card. Maybe we could all try to make a contribution, through the site which is now possible. Perhaps, this suggestion is a bit vague, and it remains to be seen if readers would like to do this.

    1. Christina: Unfortunately, it won’t get better if Pierre Poilievre gets into power. We also have four more years of the UCP. The damage they will do, will be extensive. They are propped up and supported by the politically ignorant, which isn’t helping.

  8. It’s worth bearing in mind that Substack has a nazi problem:
    It is after all just another corporate platform that inevitably follows Cory Doctorow’s laws of enshittification.

    I know nothing about the profession, but my instinct pulls towards collaboration rather than going it alone. And I’m sure you’re not the only independent journalist going through the same thing. Could this be an option?

  9. There have been so many changes for journalists and news media since David and I sat across from each other in The Calgary Herald newsroom many, many years ago. At the time, we never could have imagined how quickly the influence of newspapers would erode.
    Commentary is really important and reading David is essential in Alberta these days. But what we really need is newsrooms full of real journalists doing on-the- ground reporting. In Alberta we get hardly any of that. It costs money and until some way to fund it is discovered, most people won’t know what they are missing. Not a good thing in a democracy.

    1. Gillian: If the choice was entertaining commentaries or newsrooms full of real journalists doing on-the-ground reporting, the latter would obviously be far more valuable. How dire is the situation now? I recently gave a copy of my Aug. 6, 1996 Calgary Herald editorial department staff list to the Archives of Alberta. There were 146 names on it, mostly reporters, copy editors and photo-journalists, plus sundry copy runners, managers, librarians and receptionists. Now there are what? About a dozen reporters working from home? Less than that? DJC

  10. DJC, we certainly appreciate everything you do here. Blogs like this are how we keep up with what’s really going on. Although you always disclose that this is a blog I always get a laugh from the RWNJ’s that come here with their heads on fire that AP isn’t really news because – GASP – opinions are expressed! These are the same ignorant morons that think that True North, Western Standard and Rebel are “real” news sources (as opposed to well-funded RWNJ propaganda blogs masquerading as news sites).

    I must also lament the transformation of former Canadian news services into the political mouthpieces of RW parties. Take for example the constant “reminders” from these shills that PeePee is supposedly so popular and loved right now that his election as Presid…errr…Prime Minister is all but a certainty; what a crock of steaming bovine excrement. But as we all know, if you keep repeating the lie 24/7 eventually the rubes will start believing it. The role of social media in the current/future rise of right wing and fascist parties around the global cannot be overstated and is ignored at our collective peril. I’ve always hated social media and truly wish it would be made illegal globally and go away. Mark my words, it will be a huge contributor to the collapse of society as we know it.

    Happy New Years, all!

  11. Ever since I began reading your blog, I’ve been in awe of many aspects of it, including the sheer volume you’ve managed to bash out. When you and I used to work for those quaint newsprint thingies, writing three columns a week was considered highly prolific. And here you still are, I believe turned 70, and averaging almost five a week in what I understand is meant to be a part-time venture.

    And, over the 17 years you’ve managed this, you’ve held my attention and that of many others with your clarity, your ability to put things in historical context, your directness, and, above all, with your sharp wit. Heck, I’ve occasionally felt miffed if other pressing affairs took you away from my daily pleasure of reading your commentary.
    I have no specific advice to offer. In these crazy political times, reading a blog I happen to agree with and whose humor I greatly appreciate, is an important antidote.

    So, I hope you can carry on for a while, even if you write less frequently, and, if you have to be more blunt about the need for higher financial contributions from your readers.
    And, remember — this is a guy more than a decade older than you telling you this — neither good nor bad things last forever. Sometimes, you have to just let go. Besides, eventually, you won’t have a choice!
    So, best wishes with whatever you decide to do.

    1. Thanks, Andy. Kind words from a respected veteran of the newspaper business. I’ll be 72 in about a month. I just look young. DJC

  12. David, I have no way of adequately recognizing you and your contribution to my sanity. It is crazy out there, you are a mooring in the Alberta storm, but it is bigger than that!

    1. I would seriously look at this option. Hard to say how many patrons you would acquire until you set it up, but it would be a consistent monthly income coming in. I’m not sure what “rewards” you would set up, doesn’t have to be anything fancy though. Maybe access to a monthly video Q&A? A couple extra articles each month?

  13. I read several blogs every time they post – yours, Susan on the Soapbox, and Daveberta, and I appreciate you all. I receive Alberta Views (a gift subscription) and get emails from The Tyee, The Breach, and Drug Data Decoded. I want to support you all financially, but as a pensioner, it’s difficult. I like YYC Lefty’s idea of Alberta Politics joining with a few other bloggers and sharing the revenue. Maybe you could “rent out” space, or blogging days, to some of them, under the name Alberta Politics, since various aspects of Alberta politics is what all of them write about. That way, readers could put up monthly donations (subscriptions, if you will) and have access to more than one blog. It could almost be like a real newspaper, with sections, like the ones my siblings and I used to fight over many moons ago. I have to say though, it sounds like a lot of work to sort out who would get what.

  14. Well the end of the year is a time for reflection and there is a lot to reflect on here.

    It is clear the old models no longer work well, but particularly for those of us who lived with them for many decades, it is not always clear what does. Also, journalism was never a really high paying field, well unless you owned the papers like Conrad Black. Oh, by the way where is he now? He was an almost billionaire who became a millionaire. So the old model is no longer really working well for the owners any more either.

    So I feel something like this will always be to some degree a labour of love, the quality is needed and appreciated. If you want advertising, find someone good on commission and let them go get it, but you might have to live with some ads for pet cemeteries or such. Some other more desirable businesses may shy away from advertising on a political blog for various reasons.

    I’m not a fan of paywalls either and I suspect you want to try reach a wider audience. You could try a mix, with some premium or special content for subscribers, so perhaps try have the both of best worlds. Substack seems to be the current fad, but it seems like really just another version of a paywall to me. I could be wrong, but I feel there is a lot of hype and don’t think these things often end up being that lucrative anyways.

    In any event, all the best in figuring out a good way forward and thanks for your rigorous, intelligent and thoughtful contributions to the discussion of public issues over the years.

  15. David, Batshit, the UCP, TBA, and the other right-wing miscreants in Alberta and beyond would celebrate the day you give up this blog. Fuck’m that’s reason enough to keep doing what you’re doing.

    I bet your audience is a lot bigger than you think. Certainly, it’s bigger than the one-person crowd I have. It’s a comfort to Albertans such as myself that at least there is one other intelligent person who thinks correctly. Yes, being in Alberta is a lot like living on the Planet of the Apes, but it’ nice knowing at least one human shares my assessment of things. I like reading the comments from your regulars too. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this wasteland.

    You might think about guest post as that might reduce your writing work. The money sucks – of course. But, you knew that. At this point, what you do is more of a public service. Keep in mind every time you post, you are accumulating good karma, if that helps at all.

  16. Mr. Dressup. Mark Lisac. Michael Enright. Peter Gzowski. Jurgen Gothe et al. And you wrote about Brian Brennan, thank you. There was a time when you could count on a legion of white males, of a certain age, to tell you the truth with grace and wit. I do understand that times have changed and that’s a good thing as well. But please don’t go yet.

  17. I found you during the pandemic I think you were on tyee. I was feeling that I was the only one who was seeing what was going on in the real alberta You show old style integrity ethics and honor I am an old disabled RN who came up to find work in 79 with my new husband who dug ditches my dad would say you were a gentleman and a scholar stay as long as you can in some way via the tyee or similar note I did not know about the tyee until Kenny trashed a reporter about his question sounding like the tyee so I searched tyee and found eventually you you and your readers keep me sane because you see reality and say it like it is I can’t read the other newspaper names as it is not news just personal bias and repeated regurgitation against the same people. There is no investigative journalism except yours plus I love the humour one wonders how much these so called reporters were responsible for the UCP win and the anti Covid anti vax propaganda. Is this what was called yellow journalism in the distant past Such writing has caused albertans not receiving the facts and therefore getting ill CDC USA emergency preparedness and response sent out aHEALTH ALERT a few wks ago before Xmas. to get increase immunization of all 3 respiratory diseases They fear it seems overwhelming the US hospitals. In the Uk. the Royal Rn nurse association ? Has sent letters based on WHO advice and new variant J to get UNIVERSAL standards of PPE to all NOT based on local assessment for all health areas. Clinics hospitals etc. as they fear lack of staffing due increase in staff illness and inability to replace staff. They are also concerned regarding transmission between pt to pt within unit / ward / floor And are pushing for proper ventilation note. The remarks on both CDC emerg preparedness HEALTH ALERT And RN Uk association letters are me paraphrasing the CDC ALERT. Has lots of information stats facts even on what health care providers can say to 1 of the 4 key reasons people did not get one or all of the 3 vaccines they have a Table for a quick response. Maybe it can be sent to UCP so they can use the already meticulously prepared information to help the alberta public And push for free or discounted RSV vaccine as over 200 $ per senior Ontario is offering RSV at reduced cost I heard

    1. Thanks Geri: without dedicated nurses like you the health system everywhere, public or private, would collapse in a heap pretty quickly. Just as democracy will collapse without astute writers like our host.

      Thanks for the CDC reference. The morons are spinning the revolver cylinder. The interesting question is if, and when, Covid loads one third of the chambers with a fatal variant. SARS CoV One had a 30% mortality rate, as did MERS. “What fools these mortals be .. . “ Too bad we are also mortal and live amongst them.

      ps: pretty much everybody over 30 has some underlying health condition waiting to kill them sooner or later. Children are just absurdly fragile as anyone who has walked through a cemetery in the old world knows. “Against death doth no sample (plant) grow”

  18. Well, David, all I can say is that if you decide to go the subscription route, then I will sign up. I don’t have a problem paying out of pocket for media I truly appreciate and feel is important (I subscribe to Alberta Views and am delighted to see a physical copy in my physical mailbox). Albertans (and other Canadians) need a progressive voice from the heart of conservative country and I think that’s a service worth my money.

  19. To provide such a consistent and informed commentary is of great value to me and others. You are asking how you monetize it, which is an entirely different category of question for which I have no answer. All I can say is that if my fellow farmers and ranchers did not truly love what they were doing, there would be a whole lot less food produced.

    I’m one of the people who make a donation to your work with my credit card and it is some of the best money I spend. A donation yet to be acknowledged BTW. It is not unusual that those posting to your site ask how they can contribute. Perhaps your donation box should float under each post, rather than just appearing on the front page.

  20. I would buy you coffees on a regular basis. If others did, too, maybe it would add up. You can set your price on, eg, ko-fi at $5US. People can buy three at a time, or more. I do not like monthly subscriptions.

    1. I was also going to suggest ko-fi as a relatively unobtrusive way to allow people to support the blog, but was reading comments first to make sure no one else suggested it. 🙂

  21. I appreciate your blog compadre – often bring illumination to challenging questions and political unfoldings. Question; is a cooperative ownership a possibly model of funding + compatible advertising revenue an option to explore? …

  22. DJC, this blog is a valuable contribution to what journalism should be and you should be acknowledged and get satisfaction from that. The humor and wit in your posts is icing on that cake. Unfortunately, noble as it is that doesn’t pay the bills or for your time spent on this. How does the Tyee or similar publications do it? I guess they have paid marketing people and I know readers get tired of the pleading for donations, but maybe a fundraising drive once or twice per year?

    I’d be cautious about any kind of paywall, that seems to begin the death of many good columns.

    1. Indeed. DJC’s fellow blogger, @Daveberta, recently moved over to Substack, and IMHO that was a detrimental move. For one thing, only paying readers get to comment, and there is no real dialogue between commenters as there was when it was just a blog.

      I think I’ve been reading Daveberta somewhat longer than DJC, but I may drop him from my regular blog reading. There’s still @SusanSpbx as well.

  23. David, for several months I have had the intention of using a certain total monthly sum and dividing it between the publications I read and trust, which include Alberta Politics. However, life intervenes and I do not get around to it. I would appreciate an automated monthly donation capability or a paywall to help stiffen my resolve.

  24. Several contributors suggest David seek advertisers. My experience with a province wide paper years ago aimed at teachers demonstrated the difficulties of selling advertising. Easier said than done. Merchants are not charities. They want hard facts about readership, circulation, and above all, will they get a decent return for dollars spent. I can’t imagine DJC begging and pleading with would be advertisers for how much gain? By the time he’s raised enough capital he might be too exhausted to produce his usual hard hitting copy. Not a pretty scenario.

  25. Seventy-two? Wow, that’s hard work at any age. I recently signed up to Substack (is there an Overstack?) and so far I receive one lefty article for five right wingers. Yikes, I will not renew.

    My biggest concern is demographics. Who votes? Oldies. Who reads political blogs? Oldies. Who doesn’t vote? Most under thirties. Who doesn’t read political blogs? Same again. What to do?

    Cartoons! Yup, we need political cartoons just like in newspapers! Problem solved.

  26. No solution is perfect. Perhaps a poll is needed of those who would subscribe here for a monthly fee. Count me in!

  27. Given the tsunami of requests for donations/subscriptions etc., which anyone with an email address can attest to, it is not surprising that you are wary of this route. However, were you to engage with it, I myself am ready and willing to pay for your quite excellent journalism. Monica’s idea of giving you coffees (above) seems the gentlest of the possibilities. Perhaps a Glenfiddich option is in order, though?

    Happy New Year to you David, and to the BTL crowd. You all make my day that much more bearable. Cheers!

  28. I wish I could continue to support you but I recently retired and am still adjusting to the new budget…. I appreciate your humor and insight into the unique brand of politics that Alberta has adopted over the decades. Also, the picture for this post is awesome…. Keith Richards (still alive) above a picture of a “woke zealot”, plus, the Beano mag in the corner. Bravo!

  29. Dave you are a great progressive journalist and blogger. You should blog about Ontario politics once in a while, we’re missing that in Ontario with the Ford Government. There is a wide audience and a large progressive population here which will hopefully add revenue to your blog.

  30. I have a suggestion that probably has no merit and will draw no interest. It is that the finances of the blog be left up to the users (meaning a collective of sorts). They would create an infrastructure for determining a fair fee and a method of collecting it (or maybe just funneling it to the blog). There is clearly a willingness for people to support the blog, but no mechanism for determining a fair price or orderly way of donating. Leaving this up the DC, in my opinion, is simply not acceptable.

  31. Alberta politics would be poorer without you. Once I cancelled my Herald subscription, I divvied it up to fund writers like yourself. Keep up the solid work!

  32. I do support you for a modest amount every month on my credit card and I urge everyone else who can afford it to do so as well. I would keep paying if you had a paywall but I fear you would end up losing significant readership. Why not try soliciting funds a little more aggressively as they do at the Tyee and also at some niche environmental/climate change publications like The Narwhal, Inside Climate News, and The Grist? Put a respectful pitch for voluntary funding either in the body of every article or in the footer. The Tyee and The Narwhal seem to have success with this model and are expanding these days.

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