Real Context News celebrates ONE MILLION content views, all thanks to you, but there is more work to be done!
January 2, 2023: A personal note to readers from the man behind Real Context News: Brian E. Frydenborg (Twitter @bfry1981, LinkedIn, Facebook)
Dear Readers: YOU have done it. Yesterday, the very first day of 2023 (and possibly before, more on that in a bit), my site has surpassed ONE MILLION content views!! THANK YOU!!!
Over 900,000 of these views have come since late February 2022, and are mostly related to my Ukraine content. While I swear my other content is great, too, I recognize that this war between Russia and Ukraine is one of those inflection points in global history and has generated an unprecedented level of interest in my work from an increasingly global audience.
My Ukraine journalism has been praised by: Mykhailo Podolyak, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; Scott Shane, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times and Baltimore Sun journalist (featured in HBO’s The Wire, playing himself); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of the only Republicans to stand up to Trump and member of the January 6th Committee; and Orwell Prize-winning journalist Jenni Russell, among others. My analysis of Ukraine has been featured by Newsweek, Real Clear Defense, Small Wars Journal, Byline Times, the Arabic television stations Alghad TV and Alaraby TV (including my debate with former major Putin advisor, Kremlin insider, and Duma lawmaker Sergei Markov), interviews for the French news site Atlantico, the German news site Buzzard, Indian Strategic Studies, the and the Ministry of Defense of Brazil.
This million milestone is by measurement of the Jetpack plugin for WordPress (one of its most popular plugins of all time, with over five million installations, with the Jetpack count excluding common bots), but with an exception: for about three weeks, another plugin blocked both Jetpack and Google Analytics (that latter of which had a bit more generous of a counting), but another statistical tracker (Burst Statistics) persisted that came close to matching the Jetpack stats. Using this plugin’s data to plug in the gap, by that combined accounting, I surpassed 1,000,000 content views on the first day of this new year.
Frankly, this should have happened months earlier. I had hit 500,000 views on August 27, 600,000 by September 8, and 750,000 by September 27: a quarter of a million increase in a month’s time! But since then, it took three times as long to cover the same ground as I did in that one month, as it has been road-block after road-block, first from Twitter, then the worst coming from the despicable Elon Musk as “Chief Twit” of Twitter.
In the past few months, I have had to contend with several major rounds of Twitter suppressing wrongfully and on false grounds my account’s visibility and reach, including (a thankfully apparently shorter) one the last few days of 2022. On top of that, I have had to endure the leadership of Elon Musk over Twitter, which I have criticized here before and which had led to increased suppression of left-leaning accounts and accounts critical of Musk. In addition, Elon’s highly problematic reforms of the blue checkmark policy at Twitter have dramatically affected me until I recently (regrettably, with no better option) bought and paid for my blue checkmark (I was close to getting one on my own merits and accomplishments and had objectively met the previous requirements before Musk did away with that path, derisively labeling it “legacy.”). Before Musk changed the blue checkmark policy, I was getting extremely good traffic and engagement levels form you, dear readers, on Twitter, from which usually over 90% of you find my work. After he changed the policy and the disastrous rollout of Musk’s new policy, non-blue checkmark accounts were also suppressed to encourage forking out $8 to join his new program, and it was impossible for me to attain my previous levels of success under Elon’s new system until I received my blue checkmark, which happened late in December. Hence, most of November and December I had only a tiny trickle of traffic, a single-digit percentage of what I could have and had been having. My recovery has started, but I still need your help to keep going and recoup my past success.
The Journey of Real Context News
So, if you’ll indulge a little of my tooting my own horn here, apart my friends and some of you for some suggestions I took to heart (and thank you for those), this has entirely been a one-man show by yours truly. As the Founder, Executive Editor, Chief Correspondent, and Webmaster of Real Context news, I have written every article and every single word of copy on my site; I planned, designed, built, and managed this site entirely on my own (including fending off what were almost certainly Russian-state-sponsored cyberattacks that temporarily shut down and corrupted my site repeatedly, especially earlier this year when my site was gaining a lot of traction, which forced me to pay more for security).
This project formally was started in December 2018, again, all on my own (with the only exception of services I have paid for tech support, but more often than not I have figured out and solved the problems in spite of, not because of, this support), with the site formally launching in January 2019. Much of that month was spent re-upping many of my pieces self-published on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, LinkedIn Pulse, but it was on January 28, 2019, when I published by first Real Context News exclusive article, Crime Too Narrow As Main Lens to View Putin’s Masterpiece of Collusion, one of my most prescience pieces on the Trump-Russia saga and the Mueller probe, and included this author’s note to open the article:
I sat on this piece for over five months, pitching to many outlets, hoping each new revelation that obviously backs up my framing of these issues would increase its chances of publication, but it seems editors at major media outlets are not terribly interested in self-reflection and discussions about how media coverage of Trump-Russia could and should be far better for the American people. Well, now I have my own website not subject to the capricious corporate whims of LinkedIn or the myopia of the mainstream media’s editorial class. I proudly present my first Real Context News exclusive publication!
In the nearly three years since then, from U.S. elections to Israel-Palestine, from Trumpism to racial injustice and up to the current Ukraine war, I have produced hard-hitting, deeply-researched, heavily contextual-and-historical pieces. I have striven hard to fill the voids in the mainstream media, which often covers poorly and improperly some of the most important stories. I have done this by adding deep context and often data-driven arguments that put things in perspective and highlight substance over noise, destroying the myopic narratives that are all too pervasive in the current media landscape.
This has often made my coverage far more prescient, accurate, and informative than the body of mainstream coverage—often slow to catch up to me if they do—on the same tectonic issues (if you’re new to my site, I am confident that if you read my older work, you will see I am not exaggerating). As I noted in a 2017 piece of mine advocating for more analytical journalism:
In our current era, so many journalists are out there chasing new pieces of information that they are basically throwing puzzle pieces in the public’s face; the pieces hit people and fall to the ground in clumps, often unrelated to each other. At best people start putting a few pieces—maybe even a section—together, but before there is ever a chance to actually put the puzzle together, or even a majority of it, the whole press corps is back, flinging their individual pieces or a few pieces joined together back in people’s faces, and the whole process repeats, until people are buried by small clumps of pieces that turn into mountains of confusion, ones that obstruct the larger picture since it is not being assembled, and the continuous piling of new chunks prevents this from ever happening.
In the end, bringing it all back to the big picture and weighting the relevance and importance of any particular development is crucial for good journalism, but the media often fails to do so, as I have repeatedly noted. And I have even engaged some famous people on my podcast, including patriots like Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his colleagues Gabriel Sterling and Jordan Fuchs, recorded just two days before that other “perfect phone call” and six days before Trump’s insurrection. These were Republicans with whom I have serious disagreements but who put country over party as their civic duty demanded but at literal risk to their lives, all at a time when most elected officials in their own party chose, instead, to go along with a fascist cult’s illegal, undemocratic coup attempt. Another of my podcasts featured Ukraine’s 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Oleksandra Matviichuk, a few months before her much-deserved award.
I literally started with nothing but ideas, passion, and will, all by myself, with (and still with) no advertising budget (just my hustle!), but have risen be named, now three years in a row, one of the “60 Best Foreign Policy Blogs and Websites” (currently ranked #26).
The Real Reason for My Success
But more important than any specific accolade is that my site has reached the milestone of a million content views. If I used the metrics of Google Analytics, I reached that milestone earlier (December 27), but am trying to be conservative and not get ahead of myself and, thus, am taking the more conservative estimate between Google Analytics and Jetpack (plus Burst).
And you know who I really have to thank for that considerable milestone in my readership-level being reached, in a way that has truly humbled me and made me feel tremendous appreciation from the depths of (what remains of) my soul?
YOU! My dear readers!!
Literally, hundreds of thousands of you have seen my content collectively one million times! It if was not for you, this would simply be a personal diary posted online.
Instead, I am a website officially recognized as a news website by Google News, one with a global audience (and global credibility, even cited by NATO for my groundbreaking proposal to modify the Alliance’s Article 5 to include cyberwarfare explicitly), attracting the praise of former generals and top journalists, viewed by people in over 220 nations, territories, and dependencies around the world (nearly every single populated place)! Nearly two-thirds of my audience comes from outside the United States, with my largest audiences after Americans, in order, coming from the UK, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, France, Finland, and Spain (incidentally, Ukraine and Russia are my 18th and 45st most popular readerships).
And, again dear readers, that is because of YOU. My success is because you have given me your time, respect, and energy. This entire enterprise depends on you, and not only you as an audience, but you as donors have empowered me to keep doing what I am doing. I could not do this without the financial generosity that some of you have provided. So, on that note…
An Appeal for Support
1.) I like to think that most of you recognize how my content is unique and worthy of being read, so those of you who really appreciate and can support my work financially, this is a direct appeal for to give what you can when you can (CLICK HERE). Your donations have kept Real Context News going, and I am not going to lie: it has been difficult, but things are finally going much better now as I draw in more and more readers, more and more donations. Every little bit helps, but those of you inclined to make larger donations, please do not hesitate to do so.
2.) Those of you who choose not to support me financially but still really appreciate my work, you (and my donors, too) can share my content on social media and e-mail; talk me up to your friends, family and colleagues.
3.) Specifically, those of you on Twitter (and if you are not you should join and follow me there), I am asking all of you to convince at least 10 others in your orbit to follow me on Twitter (even recommending my account to just random people you run into and talk with about these issues). I also post on LinkedIn and Facebook, but, by far at present, Twitter is the medium by far that is most successfully driving Real Context News’s engagement, growth, and recognition. And also, for all of you, please remember that while likes are appreciated, retweets have more impact on growing my reach and, quote retweets with your own commentary are approaching the divine. That being said, please feel free to share on other platforms, too, besides Twitter: there is always room for growth!
If I can raise enough funding, I am planning when my schedule permits to travel to Ukraine myself and report there for a few weeks, maybe even a month or more! Being a war zone, I will need to take expensive precautions, and am not going to rush in willy-nilly, but well-prepared and only if I can properly resource the trip to mitigate risk. But such a trip would be a natural next step since it is, after all, my unique Ukraine analysis on Real Context News that most of you have seen and that has brought most of you on board as engaged, thoughtful readers of this site.
Half-a-million content views out of starting my own site from scratch… it is really humbling and something, one of the key achievements of my academic and professional career spanning over two decades. But this is just another in a series of stages of progress. Let’s get 1.5 million and then let’s break two million!! I can’t do it alone, but with your help, and the more people I reach, all that and more are possible, and the more I can have an impact on the deeply problematic media landscape, to educate, enlighten, and drive a more informed conversation and, therefore, better debates, better problem-solving, and better outcomes for humanity, what the best journalism has always strived to do, what I set out in Real Context News’s mission statement back at the beginning of 2019. You empower me, and I empower you, but without you, again, I am just a diarist.
So, thank you all so much, for everything you’ve done, and for what you will do to help this site grow more and more into its potential. I am counting on you, and together, there is so much we can accomplish, so many more stories that need to be told, so much good we can do as a team. I may be a one-man show here at Real Context News, but in a larger sense you are all part of the website too: it is your support that makes this site what it is: something special that will inform its readers far better than most other outlets on the chosen topics (and those topics are many and varied). More reach, more support, more funding, together means more of all of this. So join me, fight against disinformation misinformation, fascism, war, oppression, and injustice of all kinds (and occasional battles of artistic taste) with factual, reasoned, researched, honest, in-depth, transparent, and well-sourced discussions of the pressing issues of our era.
Thank you all again, from the very bottom of my heart, and PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING and/or SPREADING THE WORD
© 2023 Brian E. Frydenborg all rights reserved, permission required for republication, attributed quotations welcome
Also see Brian’s eBook, A Song of Gas and Politics: How Ukraine Is at the Center of Trump-Russia, or, Ukrainegate: A “New” Phase in the Trump-Russia Saga Made from Recycled Materials, available for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook (preview here), and be sure to check out Brian’s new podcast!
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