For-profit

The Free Press (TFP)

Website:

www.thefp.com

Location:

Los Angeles, CA

Type:

Media Company

Formation:

2022

Founder:

Bari Weiss

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The Free Press (TFP, formerly called Common Sense, not to be confused with the left-of-center advocacy group Free Press) is an internet-based media company founded by former New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss. The Free Press aims to produce news stories that exemplify the journalistic ideals of honesty, doggedness, and fierce independence. The Free Press publishes investigative stories and commentary, with a focus on stories that are often ignored or distorted by the media to serve an ideological narrative. 1

The Free Press produces the podcast Honestly and hosts the “America Debates” live debate series. TFP has also produced the audio documentary series The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, and the documentary video American Miseducation. 2

Common Sense and Honestly

In January 2021, after resigning from the New York Times, journalist Bari Weiss launched the Common Sense newsletter on Substack, an online platform for independent writers and podcasters. Common Sense was created to serve readers who are not on the extreme sides of the political divides, neither hard-left nor hard-right. It was intended to address the concerns of “self-censorship,” especially as it relates to institutions defining what is and is not acceptable to say in public conversation. 3

In June 2021, Common Sense launched the weekly podcast Honestly, focusing on stories that are otherwise not being told in public spheres and featuring conversations with what it calls the “most fascinating people.” Topics have included the diabetes and weight loss drug Ozempic, the implications of banning the platform TikTok, antisemitism, events in Israel, and critical race theory. Honestly’s guests have included PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, former George W. Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former National Public Radio senior business editor Uri Berliner, and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. 4

The Free Press

In 2022, Common Sense was rebranded as The Free Press and expanded into a media company. The Free Press publishes investigative stories and claims that not all readers will agree with the entirely of its reporting, as it is meant to be provocative and bring together different viewpoints to create a more diverse community. 5

In February 2023, The Free Press released an audio documentary series, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, which looks at contentious issues through the life and career of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series. The Witch Trials series includes conversations with Rowling about controversies surrounding her, including book bans and gender. There are also interviews with Rowling’s critics and supporters, historians, and journalists examining the forces contributing to this moment in history. 6

In January 2024, The Free Press released a documentary video, American Miseducation, attempting to trace the origins of antisemitism on American campuses. In the documentary, Free Press correspondent Olivia Reingold, a former podcast producer at Politico, visits elite colleges across the country like the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University to speak to anti-Israel activists and Jewish college students. American Miseducation was made in partnership with the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History. 7

The Free Press hosts a series of live debates, the “America Debates,” in partnership with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), an organization focused on protecting freedom of speech on college campuses and throughout American society. The first event was held in Los Angeles in 2023 with culture critics Anna Khachiyan and Louise Perry debating against musician Grimes and writer Sarah Haider about the failure of the sexual revolution. The second event was held in Dallas, Texas and featured right-wing author Ann Coulter and Compact author Sohrab Ahmari, debating against libertarian commentator Nick Gillespie and left-wing activist Cenk Uygur on whether the U.S. should close its borders. 8

Financials

In November 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that The Free Press had about 520,000 total subscribers, which included nearly 75,000 paid subscribers who receive extra content at a rate of $8 per month or $80 per year. WSJ reported that views of the TFP content increased by 62 percent after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, when TFP published pieces providing an alternative to the mainstream media’s characterization of Israel, including stories of young people siding with Hamas in the conflict, a couple providing financial backing for pro-Palestinian rallies, and people tearing down posters of kidnapped Israeli children. 9

People

Bari Weiss is the founder and editor of The Free Press and host of the podcast Honestly. Weiss formerly worked as an opinion writer and editor at the New York Times from 2017 to 2020, as an op-ed and book review editor at the Wall Street Journal, and a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. 10 In 2020, Weiss left the New York Times, citing in her resignation letter that she had worked within an “illiberal environment” and was bullied by fellow employees who called her “a Nazi and a racist.” 11

Nellie Bowles, Weiss’s wife, is a co-founder, a reporter, and the head of strategy at The Free Press. Bowles formerly worked as a correspondent at the New York Times. 12

Margi Conklin is the managing editor of The Free Press. Conklin formerly worked in senior roles at the New York Post and as an editor at ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar. 13

Peter Savodnik is senior editor at the Free Press. Savodnik formerly wrote for Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper’s, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Wired. Savodnik is also the founder of Stateless Media. 14

Emily Yoffe is senior editor at the Free Press, a former contributing writer to The Atlantic, and a former advice columnist at Slate Magazine. 15

Other writers published by The Free Press have included Katherine Boyle, a venture capitalist and former reporter at the Washington Post; Matti Friedman, an Israel-based journalist and former opinion writer at the New York Times; Martin Gurri, a visiting fellow at the Mercatus Center and former CIA analyst; Coleman Hughes, a former fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; 16 Eli Lake, a former opinion columnist at Bloomberg and senior national security correspondent at the Daily Beast; Douglas Murray, a regular contributor at the New York Post and National Review; Joe Nocera, a former executive editor at Fortune; Vinay Prasad, a health researcher and professor at University of California, San Francisco; Olivia Reingold, a former podcast producer at Politico; Abigail Shrier, a former opinion columnist at the Wall Street Journal; Suzy Weiss, a former reporter at the New York Post; and Oliver Wiseman, a former executive editor of the Spectator World. 17

References

  1. “About.” The Free Press. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/about.
  2. “About.” The Free Press. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/about.
  3. Stelter, Brian. “Bari Weiss’ next act: a Substack newsletter that serves as ‘the newspaper for the 21st century.’” CNN, October 17, 2021. Accessed May 18, 2024. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/17/media/bari-weiss-newsletter/index.html.
  4. “Honestly with Bari Weiss.” The Free Press. Accessed May 20, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/podcast.
  5. “About.” The Free Press. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/about.
  6. “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling.” The Free Press. Accessed May 20, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/witchtrials.
  7. Reingold, Olivia. “WATCH: American Miseducation. A New Documentary from The Free Press.” The Free Press, January 31, 2024. Accessed May 20, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/p/watch-american-miseducation-free-press-doc.
  8. “Events.” The Free Press. Accessed May 20, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/p/get-tickets-for-upcoming-live-shows?r=18b59&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&showWelcomeOnShare=true&triedRedirect=true
  9. Bruell, Alexandra. “Bari Weiss’s Surging News Startup Lures Readers Miffed at Media Coverage of Israel.” The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2023. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/business/media/bari-weisss-surging-news-startup-lures-readers-miffed-at-media-coverage-of-israel-07861ea4.
  10. “Bari Weiss.” The Free Press. Accessed May 15, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/t/bari-weiss.
  11. “Resignation Letter.” Bari Weiss. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter.
  12. “Home.” Nellie Bowles. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.nelliebowles.com/.
  13. “Margi Conklin.” The Free Press. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/t/margi-conklin.
  14. “Bio.” Peter Savodnik. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.peter-savodnik.com/bio.
  15. “Emily Yoffe.” Slate. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://slate.com/author/emily-yoffe.
  16. “Coleman Hughes.” The Manhattan Institute. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://manhattan.institute/person/coleman-hughes.
  17. “About.” The Free Press. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://www.thefp.com/about.
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The Free Press (TFP)


Los Angeles, CA