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New next-generation media platform wants to 'make liberty go viral'

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New next-generation media platform wants to 'make liberty go viral'

Based Politics graphic with Hannah Cox and Brad Polumbo

This article was originally published by Stand Together Trust.

It's well known that media shapes culture and influences politics. However, the rapid evolution of technology has changed which type of media has the most influence.  

Consider that the average cable TV news viewership per day is between 1 million and 3 million views. Meanwhile, the front page of Reddit, an online aggregate of news, videos, and other content, receives 100 million daily visits. 

To Hannah Cox and Brad Polumbo, the changes in where people get their news present a lot of opportunities for liberty-minded media. More importantly, they say that if liberty-minded leaders don't take their ideas to the places where people are getting their news and information, "we don't just lose, we forfeit the fight." 

That's why they started BASEDPolitics, "a next-generation multi-media hub" that produces principled content rooted in free markets, limited government, and individual liberty. With funding from Stand Together Trust and other donors, Hannah and Brad recently quit their jobs to dedicate themselves full-time to "make liberty go viral." 

Right now, it's just the two of them and a handful of others writing dozens of articles a week, producing a regular podcast, and releasing videos on politics, policy, and news that "bridges the partisan gap," "advances free markets and individual liberty," and "builds diverse audiences." However, their vision is to build a media platform that contracts with dozens of social media influencers who can speak to these principles in a charismatic fashion on the popular channels of the day -- like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Leveraging past professional experiences to build something new 

It makes sense the heart of their mission involves social media -- after all, Hannah and Brad met on Twitter.  

At the time, Hannah was working on criminal justice reform and Brad was the opinion editor at the Washington Examiner. Hannah saw firsthand how influential social media had become in passing policy. Brad was becoming increasingly frustrated with the tendency in news media to track cable news instead of places like Reddit.  

"As much as we love the legacy institutions, they aren't structured to be timely," Brad explained.  

Hannah and Brad are building a flat organization that intentionally stays small so that BASEDPolitics can be nimble, quick, and viral. They plan to recruit and train charismatic, principled individuals who can speak effectively and persuasively on social media about the issues of the day. 

"Millions are being influenced -- mostly by socialist-minded individuals -- on TikTok and other social media platforms," Brad said. "If we continue to focus on only producing articles and cable news hits, we aren't going to lose the battle -- we're forfeiting the battle." 

BASEDPolitics doesn't want that to happen. As they raise more money, Hannah and Brad will hire dedicated contractors who have established areas of expertise—like foreign policy and economics. BASEDPolitics will connect these contractors with policy battles at the state and federal level, general talking points, and solutions—all with the aim to flood social media with information that can help the next generation shape their minds and move the needle on the ground. 

"We want to do more than merely educate people about our values. We want to show them how to put them into practice and connect them with the people on the frontlines of public policy - empowering them to get involved and get stuff done," said Hannah.      

They've had a lot of early success, too. In August, just five months after they started producing content, their web traffic and social media engagement set new records with: 

  • 339,500 pageviews on articles at their site, a 289% increase month-over-month 
  • 2.42 million individuals engaging on TikTok 
  • 2.234 million individuals engaging on Facebook 
  • 11 million individuals engaging on Twitter 

Of course, engagement doesn't always equate to impact, but BASEDPolitics is seeing early signs of impact, too.  

A prominent senator is a supporter of their work, often sharing articles from them on his Twitter. Their ongoing coverage of a media story concerning a well-known governor caught the attention of the governor's office, who reached out asking that a statement from them be included at their site. And Hannah and Brad continue to gain promotion in media -- including appearances on Fox News, Fox Business' Kennedy, NewsNation, The Hill's "Rising," and more.  

It's not just leaders right of center who are paying attention to BASEDPolitics. Hannah and Brad are frequent guests on The Young Turks, a progressive and left-leaning YouTube show. They've also received messages of support from young people who describe themselves as Democrat and find their reports to be fair and offering more detail than many other news outlets.  

"Media has the ability to be a carrot or a stick -- providing support for those who need it in key battles and decisions and publicly criticizing when politicians abandon principles," Hannah said.  

A principled business model 

BASEDPolitics is a non-profit media model that runs ads and has a subscription community. But they'll depend on a good portion of their funds from donors. The decision to incorporate as a non-profit is intentional.  

"Free market isn't always the best incentive for advancing principles," explained Hannah, "because you have to go toward what is popular. While we intend to produce content that goes viral, we know our ideas aren't always dominant in the market. We want to avoid audience-capture and ensure we answer first to our principles over clicks." 

After all, another key factor in Hannah's and Brad's decision to launch BASEDPolitics was their dismay at seeing peers abandon their support for free market, limited government, and individual liberty as they joined various media or political organizations.  

Hannah and Brad don't have intentions for BASEDPolitics to become a huge media corporation with hundreds of full-time employees. They'd rather maintain a flat structure so that they can remain free of bureaucracy. They'll employ influencers as contractors, in order to achieve that goal and make it easier to separate if a contributor's politics shift.  

"The old school movement's approach is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a communications department, and what do we get for that? Some press mentions and media hits." Hannah conveyed, "We have to have a larger social media presence to take ground in the fight on the ground. People on the ground fighting the important policy battles understand this and need this support. If we get in at the right time, and now is the right time, we can become a battle house for our principles." 


BASEDPolitics is supported by Stand Together Trust, which provides funding and strategic capabilities to innovators, scholars, and social entrepreneurs to develop new and better ways to tackle America’s biggest problems.

Learn more about Stand Together’s free speech efforts and explore ways you can partner with us

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