There has some controversy over SOFREP switching over to a subscription model last week.  Not as much as we expected, there was a possibility that it all could have turned into a Netflix-esque disaster, but certainly some push back.  I can understand where people are coming from, it is the principle of the thing more than anything.  SOFREP was free to read for about a year and a half, then we changed things up and now charge a small subscription fee ($2-$5) instead.  Brandon and I were as clear as possible as to our motivation in doing this.  I recently responded on Facebook to a gentlemen who was upset that we had just “commercialized” our website:

“You’re entitled to your decision of course but it isn’t based on an accurate assessment. First, our site has always been a commercial endeavor, you just didn’t realize it until we went to a subscription model but we have had paid advertising since day one. Second, moving to a subscription service actually gives us much less of a commercial bias. Let me explain, when we relied on advertisers as our sole source of revenue we were at their mercy, some did not like us breaking news stories or covering hardcore information. By having subscribers we are reliant on our readers, not advertisers who have a commercial bias. It may appear to you that the information on our site is free for us, but I assure you it is not. I’ve spent months working on some articles. It is extremely difficult to research some of these topics, develop contacts, and write about it. It is very time-consuming at times, time I could be spending elsewhere. I don’t feel that anyone is entitled to my labor, I do deserve to get paid for my work. I’m sure you would feel that same way.”

This is why we moved to a subscription model, it keeps this website honest.  Otherwise we would be playing the same game as everyone else as advertisers attempt to wag the dog.  SOFREP would slowly morph into just another lame media outlet and would probably publish nothing but ‘gays in the military’ and ‘women in the military’ stories because that is what draws internet traffic, and traffic is what equals money in this business.  I can’t think of anything more boring, and I’m glad I don’t work for a website like that.

So on one hand I get that some people are ticked off about the change.  I read a number of websites which are completely free and would probably feel like something was taken away from me if they suddenly charged me for access.  However, I think that there is so much free content on the internet, and that people have gotten so accustomed to free content, that they can feel entitled to other people’s work over time.  This website has always been commercial and our staff of writers, our Webmaster, our developer, and our sales people, do expect to get paid.

We produce content that cannot be found anywhere else.  That is a fact.  When I write about the history of RRD, the secret assassination program in Libya, or the dirty deals that we had with one of the Benghazi suspects, all of those stories took time and effort on my part.  Some stories, like the one I wrote about George Washington Bacon, took months to write.  I’m not complaining, it is just a matter of economics.  I would not even bring these things up if not for the consternation that our subscription service has caused in a small minority of our readers.

Likewise, the unsolicited and unwanted business advice given to us by those without any track record in this industry has also been unfounded and inaccurate.

What you will find below is a letter we recently received from someone we’ve had exchanges with in the past.  It is not in any way representative of our readers, even the ones who object to our subscription service.  But it is so incredibly arrogant that I will respond to it point by point.  This individual has in the past posted insane fabricated war stories in the comments section of SOFREP articles about bearded, ballcap-wearing, former Special Operations men turned mercenaries, running around Mexico with M4s and getting into wild shootouts with cartels.  His substantiating evidence is some old articles in Narco blogs, which say anything but.  He also accused me of copyright infringement when I published my novel “Target Deck” because I “stole” his super awesome idea of writing a book about mercenaries in Mexico.  This guy then dropped a bunch of Hollywood names that were not his to drop, and every one of them that I contacted disavowed him.

Without further ado, my comments will appear in bold…