By FITSNews || We may never know how much money the S.C. Policy Council received to launch The Nerve – its new “citizen reporter” website. We also may never know where all of that money came from.
One thing we do know? The experiment has been an unmitigated failure.
The new media website that promised to “drill a big, fat peephole into closed door politics” and to “put politicians between a rock and a hard drive” has failed to live up to its edgy, advance billing – disappointing its ideological allies and emboldening its critics. Meanwhile, the Policy Council’s few legislative allies are fretting the organization’s diminished focus on … well, policy.
“The reform movement in South Carolina already had a strong new media presence,” one S.C. Senator tells FITS. “It also had a think tank. For the life of me I don’t know why they tried to do this.”
Tried … and failed.
According to Compete.com, The Nerve had just 453 unique visits last month. It also has yet to crack the 2,500 unique visit threshold since its inception in January of this year.
By contrast, FITS had 156,644 unique visits in May while The State.com had 339,428.
Unique visits are the number of individual IP addresses that access a website in a given month. These are different from monthly page views, which take into account multiple visits – or “hits” – from the same IP addresses.
In the past, The Nerve has hotly disputed these traffic numbers – and provided us with data from Google showing that the website was received as many as 4,800 unique visits a month. Still, though, that’s a surprisingly weak performance given the massive amount of funding that was reportedly provided to the Policy Council to launch the website.
Sources tell FITS that The Nerve – which employs at least three full-time reporters on its staff – was founded with grant money from the Koch Foundation, which supports libertarian and conservative causes across the country. How much grant money went to the website?
“High six figures,” one source tells FITS.
We supported the launch of The Nerve (and have even linked to several of their stories in the past). In fact, we were hoping that the website would emerge as an important ideological ally in the uphill battle to expose the truth about the true size and scope of state government in South Carolina.
It certainly looked like that might happen initially as reporters from The Nerve hammered away at the particulars of a big economic incentives deal and a coterie of attractive interns flooded budget hearings with their portable “flip-cams.”
Unfortunately, The Nerve has misfired on every possible level – lagging behind FITS when it comes to key budget and legislative coverage and choosing to focus its considerable resources on lengthy exposes that (as far as we can tell) have only a tangential connection to the Policy Council’s core mission.
Speaking of which, the project has also drained energy and attention away from the valuable research that the Policy Council used to do on state spending, transparency and parental choice.