What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Invest in the continued production of WTF Just Happened Today by becoming a supporting member. Choose from three levels of monthly recurring membership:

As an alternative to the monthly options, you can also support WTFJHT annually at $50/yr and $100/yr.


Or, contribute any amount you want by using PayPal.

So here's the deal: This is my full-time job. I plan to keep doing this for as long as you keep supporting me. So, if you find my work valuable, please consider becoming a member so I can continue to tell you wtf just happened today.

I started this project to keep track of an impossible news cycle. It was a personal challenge to become a better consumer of political news. It quickly turned into my full-time job, because, as it turns out, a lot of other people also wanted to be better news consumers. So here we are.

My position has always been to earn enough money to cover my costs so I can keep writing and reporting WTF Just Happened Today. It’s why I do membership drives as infrequently as possible: I’d rather let you know when I need financial support than to just constantly ask and ask and ask like some media companies… I also know how annoying these "begs" are, so just imagine how annoying it is for me to write this one!

Anyway, a couple times a year I spend a weekend squinting at spreadsheets in an attempt to assess my financial situation, revising what it costs me to run WTF Just Happened Today and trying to square everything so we can keep doing it. As a reminder, WTFJHT is 100% free, but supported entirely by your optional contributions. No ads, no sponsorships – none of that BS.

As a result, I try to be as transparent as possible about this process, in part because of my own reluctance to "beg," but also my own ethos about transparency and openness. So for the first time I’m going to detail exactly where we’re at:

  1. ~1% of the WTFJHT audience contributes financially
  2. $5.94 is the average monthly contribution per member (normalizing all monthly, annual, and one-time contributions of all amounts to a monthly interval – meaning, a one-time $100 contribution is the equivalent to $8.33/mo while a one-time $25 contribution is about $2/mo.)
  3. 6.06% of members contributing monthly or annually cancel their on-going support at some point (in the biz we call this the "churn rate")
  4. $16,020 is what it costs to run WTFJHT a month (here’s the cost breakdown, if you’re interested) ~8% is the annual increase in operating costs (meaning the cost of running WTFJHT will likely raise to about $17,301 in the next year)

What this means: We're off from where we need to be to keep WTFJHT sustainable. In actual numbers, we've lost about 150 supporters over the past year – or about $900 a month in income – while the cost of running WTFJHT has gone up about $1,200. That difference of roughly $2,100/mo. comes out of my savings. And to be clear: It's normal for people to cancel their support over time for various reasons (i.e. lost job; life events; need to take a break) – I totally get it.

Membership Drive Goal: I’m looking for about 200 people to become new members today to help underwrite the continued success of WTFJHT. The sooner we hit this, the sooner we get back to your regularly scheduled WTFs.

Stretch Goal: 500 new members. If we hit this goal, not only do we make up for the current missing income, but we cover the next year of expected member cancellations, meet the rising costs of running WTFJHT in advance, and ensure fewer membership drives in the future. That’s what I call a win-win-win, y’all!

What's the money for? WTF Just Happened Today is a bespoke newsletter, blog, podcast, and community chronicling the daily shock and awe in national politics. It's produced every morning by hand and updated throughout the day, with a newsletter sent out every afternoon, Monday through Friday. More than 250,000 people rely on WTFJHT for the day's political news in a concise and focused recap.

Your contributions ensure the continued production of all this and more.

The goal is simple: Make WTFJHT a sustainable, member-funded project that exists for as long as necessary. To do that we need to cover all the costs associated with hosting, email delivery, site search, the community forum, web development, "salary," health insurance, freelancers, the podcast, and more.

Member benefits. Members of all levels will receive the quarterly "What's up with WTF" newsletter, opportunity to help guide the future of WTF, early access to new features, and good vibes for supporting today's essential newsletter and blog. Your support ensures that the following are actively maintained: The Daily Update, the newsletter, the podcast (available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, RSS), the Alexa Flash Briefing, the community forum, the RSS, Atom, and Apple News feeds, the WTFJHT API, topic pages on Russia, Climate Change, Health Care, Travel Ban and Fake News), Current Status, more.

Credit card payments are handled by Memberful with Stripe as the payment processor. Membership benefits are available only through Memberful and PayPal, and not other methods, like checks. Your email address and personal information will never be shared with anyone for any purpose. Period. You will, however, receive occasional emails from myself and Memberful regarding invoices, renewals, and issues related to your credit card or account. Please note that all memberships auto-renew monthly/annually, but can be cancelled at any time. There are no refunds.

Questions or comments? Let me know.

Thanks for your support.
–Matt

Can't afford to support my work financially? That's okay! Share WTF Just Happened Today with a friend. It's free and has a big impact. Tweet about it or share it on Facebook.


WTFJHT Values and Editorial Policy.

Journalism is a set of ethics based on trust, truthfulness, fairness, integrity, independence, and accountability. WTF Just Happened Today is a reflection of these ethics, but also applies the following standards and practices:

  • Transparency. WTFJHT is open source and hosted as a public GitHub repository. Readers are encouraged to improve WTFJHT by making edit requests to fix grammar, typos, facts, sources, etc., as well as to contribute code.
  • Neutral-ish. WTFJHT isn't partisan. It does not offer commentary, opinion, or analysis. Instead, WTFJHT focuses on letting the facts speak for themselves and that's it. Bias is the byproduct of being a human making decisions about the relative importance of things. Sorry.
  • Reputable sources. I always cite and clearly link to the original source material. Where appropriate, I'll include additional sources to other publications reporting the same information.
  • Clear expectations. The premise is simple: state what happened, what the facts are, and cite the source.
  • No strings attached. There's no business model trickery here. No ads. No paywalls. No selling of data. I have a website and a newsletter, and I'm supported directly by my audience.

Still not convinced? Here's what the smartest people on the Internet are saying about What The Fuck Just Happened Today:

  • "This is the site I’ve been waiting for." –Amy O'Leary, Chief Story Officer and Editorial Director at Upworthy
  • "Single subject, distinct tone, clear formatting, total understanding of what its audience wants. @WTFJHT is the best email newsletter." –Dave Lee, BBC Silicon Valley Reporter
  • "@WTFJHT is a brilliant journalistic response to an urgent civic need." –Jeff Jarvis, Director, Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism
  • "Terrific daily digest. Exemplary news curation. Highly recommended." –Mark Potts, Digital Media Entrepreneur

Can I send you a check? Yes! Please make it payable to Matt Kiser (I can't cash checks made out to WTF Just Happened Today). My physical address is: WTF Just Happened Today? 505 Broadway E #211, Seattle, WA 98102 USA

Where's the $1/mo option? Credit card fees on $1 are outrageous and there's nothing I can do about it. About 34% of a $1 pledge goes to the credit card processing companies. That's a lot of wasted money. Compared to a $5 pledge, "only" 10% is lost to fees. If you want to support WTFJHT at the equivalent of $1/mo, I'm offering a $12/yr option.

Just want to make a one-time contribution? While recurring memberships are preferred, I'm happy to accommodate four different one-time contribution options at $25, $50, $100, and $200. Or, contribute any amount you want by using PayPal.

What happened to the rewards? As much as I like stickers, t-shirts, and pins, I found that I was spending too much time at the post office, as well as spending too much money on physical goods. After speaking with members, it became clear that while physical rewards are nice, the real reward is supporting the continued production of WTF Just Happened Today. I plan to open a store to sell stickers and whatnot soon. Hopefully with a partner that can handle fulfillment on my behalf.

Are you a 501(c)(3)? Is my contribution tax-deductible? No, I'm a for-profit, single-member LLC based in Washington state. There are two reasons for this: 1) this setup makes it easy to manage and keeps my operational overhead low, and 2) I strongly believe media businesses need to be in the business of being in business. Meaning, my ability to fund WTFJHT is a reflection of the value created for the readers. If enough readers don't find WTFJHT valuable enough to pay for, then maybe WTFJHT shouldn't exist anymore.

How much does this thing cost to run anyway? Glad you asked! I did some back of the envelope math and I came up with $16,020/month. That's a conservative estimate, to be honest. If you're interested in how I arrived at that number, I've outlined the cost of running WTFJHT in the FAQ.