Dec 22, 2023

Thank you. For everything. And I'll see you soon.

Tangle founder Isaac Saul at our first live event in Philadelphia, PA, this summer.
Tangle founder Isaac Saul at our first live event in Philadelphia, PA, this summer.

It's time for a goodbye, a little break, some questions.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 4 minutes.

Dear readers,

Christmas is around the corner, which means we are preparing for our annual break over the New Year here at Tangle. If you are a new reader, or this is your first email you've ever gotten from us, I apologize for the odd timing — but please read on for some information about the community you just joined (you can also go check out yesterday's post and our archive for an idea of what Tangle is all about).

2023 has been exciting, grueling, and life changing. Every year since I started Tangle, I've taken a couple weeks off right after Christmas and through the New Year. And every year, I encourage our readers and listeners to do the same. Following the news closely is hard, as is being an engaged citizen, and it's important not to burn yourself out. This year, more than any I can remember, I feel like I need the break. The war in Gaza has brought our country's divides to a boiling point over the last few months, and it has brought a collection of deeply personal issues to the forefront of our discourse for me, which is always challenging.

But we haven’t just been challenged by Israel, Palestine, and Gaza. The abortion case in Texas brought one of the most emotionally charged issues in America back to the front pages. Colorado's Supreme Court just threw a curveball into the 2024 election, intensifying the often divisive Trump effect that influences so much of our politics. And before that, we've had mass shootings, record heat waves, House Speaker battles, and arguments about immigration, vaccines, affirmative action, and term limits — all while the 2024 presidential race, with all of its inherent nuttiness, has begun in earnest.

This nonstop stream of emotionally charged news feels overwhelming for me to wade through, as I'm sure it is for many of you. But for us, it is also an opportunity — and a rather big one. Trust in the media is at an all-time low, and a recent poll found that voters believe media bias is worse than it has ever been. That means people are turning to independent outlets like Tangle looking for balance and nuance, which gives us the chance to chart a new path forward for readers like you. We believe we're providing that, and the last year is proof others think so, too.

Our mailing list grew from 54,000 readers to over 88,000. Our newly launched YouTube channel already has over 7,000 subscribers. Our podcast broke one million downloads. We finally launched our members-only Sunday edition, featuring weekly round-ups, comics, puzzles, and more, which has been a hit with readers. Two of my long-term goals for Tangle — 100,000 newsletter subscribers and $1 million in annual revenue — are on the horizon.

In the last year, I hired three new members of the team to join Magdalena and me: Ari, Jon, and Will. Magdalena continues to run our social channels, shepherding our Instagram page across the 20,000 follower mark, and this year she stood up an advertising business to go with it. Ari took over as managing editor and launched the Sunday edition, Jon started running the YouTube and podcast channels, and Will has fallen into the grueling research, guest-booking, and jack-of-all-trades role. My father Bailey and our copy editor Sean continue to put the finishing touches on our daily newsletter (our mom-and-pop bonafides live on), and we had a rotating cast of interns who helped us throughout 2023. 

[Note: Speaking of interns, we have a paid social media internship beginning in January 2024 that just opened up. If you are a high school or college student, or recent college graduate, check it out here.]

We also had some firsts: We had our first live event in Philadelphia, which was a smashing success, and we are already planning another one this spring in New York City. I also had my first speaking engagement on a college campus to discuss media bias, and we concurrently launched our first-ever college ambassador program, both of which are putting us in front of a younger audience of new and future voters. We also had our first-ever Instagram post removal, which we responded to by doubling down on our mission, something our followers greatly appreciated. And we had, for the first time, one of our own staff members featured in our “Have a nice day” section. 

Along the way, we've caught the attention of everyone from Elon Musk to Adam Grant to Bill O’Reilly to Dan Carlin to Chris Anderson, the president of TED Talks. I got to appear on media platforms ranging from MSNBC to Sirius XM radio to New York AM talk radio to Triggernometry’s YouTube channel to Mike Pesca's podcast. We interviewed presidential candidates like Marianne Williamson (D) and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), UFO experts like Mick West, economic experts like Ben Miller and Kyla Scanlon, Palestinian academics like Yousef Munayyer, and thought leaders like Chole Valdary. We had one of the most prominent feature articles ever written about us get published, and we also published our first-ever anonymous reader essay, from a Chinese dissident who had fled the country and shared their views on what was happening back home.

The word is out. And the momentum is real. It is, truly, beyond my wildest dreams for what I thought Tangle could become. And the best part is that I know there is so much more to do.

All of that starts here, with our readers, so thank you. Thank you for sharing our work, for telling your friends and family (don’t forget you can still gift subscriptions or merchandise for the holidays), for sticking with us even if "my take" pisses you off, for remembering that the point of all this is to expand your minds and have your views challenged. Thank you for your trust. It is the thing we value most, and something we treasure more than I can adequately say.

We have a lot planned for 2024. We’re going to start the year the same way we always do: For our first Friday edition in January, we’ll be reviewing our biggest pieces from 2023 and then grading how well we did. In Q1, we are going to ramp up our focus on the podcast, offering new subscribers-only content, introducing a co-host, and bringing on more high-profile guests. We’ll also be rolling out our first-ever podcast series on undecided voters (for those of you who responded to our request, keep an eye out for an email from me). 

We're going to dive deep into the 2024 campaign, giving you the most holistic coverage of the candidates and issues that you'll be able to find in the media space. We’ll continue to cover the happenings in Israel, Ukraine, Congress, and of course all the news we can’t imagine that is headed our way. We have new YouTube videos in the pipeline, a website redesign coming, and — as always — will continue to tinker with the newsletter commensurate with your feedback.

To that end, here are a few end of the year to-do's that are worth mentioning.

For starters, it is time for our annual end-of-year survey. This is our way of getting to know who our audience is and getting to better understand what parts of Tangle you like and don't like. It is entirely anonymous, unless you decide to enter your name or email address. If you can take five minutes to fill it out, it'd be a huge help for us, and it is a great opportunity for you to offer your honest feedback. Please only take it once

Second, I want to remind everyone that our membership prices are going up from $50/year to $60/year in 2024. Our Monday-Thursday newsletters will always remain free, but if you want to unlock Friday and Sunday editions, and generally just support our work (subscriptions make up 90% of our revenue), you can lock in a legacy subscription price (for life) by becoming a member now. Also, for all of you who said you want to pay $60/year to support our work, thank you, and please know there will be an easy way to do that when the switch happens. 

Third, and finally, is the break: Our team is taking off from December 25th until January 5th. You'll hear from us at least once over that break when we release our newest YouTube video (which I think is one of our most important videos yet), then potentially again in the event of a major news drop. Tangle members are also going to get a special edition of the Sunday newsletter on New Year’s Eve. 

I encourage you all to take a break, too. If you are able, step away from the news for at least a few days, spend some time with family, get your feet back on the ground, and try to hit the reset button for the New Year. I’ll be doing my best to unplug, reset, evaluate the year, and enjoy some much-needed time with my wife and family — to whom I have a massive debt of quality time to repay accrued over the past couple months of unprecedented work. I also have 1,023 unread emails to attend to.

Until then, happy New Year, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and don't forget to take our survey and/or become a member before our prices go up!

With much gratitude,

Isaac & the Tangle team

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Isaac Saul
I'm a politics reporter who grew up in Bucks County, PA — one of the most politically divided counties in America. I'm trying to fix the way we consume political news.