As the Internet has taken off, so has Townhall.com, an early player in the burgeoning conservative web sub-world. “This year has seen the most significant growth rate in our history,” said Jonathan Garthwaite, Townhall’s director and editor. “We have 1.5 million unique users a month now. We did a pledge drive and brought in $120,000 in a week and a half.” With three staff members, non-profit Townhall provides a comprehensive introduction to conservative news and views on the net. “Sean Hannity, Dr. Laura, Neal Boortz. . . . They all use Townhall as one of their first stops in the morning,” said Garthwaite. Townhall has a set of web blogs on which members can post information and their opinions. It also has an extensive set of links to news stories, columns, and other conservative sites—including Human Events Online—on the web. A project of the Heritage Foundation, the large Washington think tank, Townhall’s conservatism runs the gamut from economic issues to social issues to national security. “Townhall.com is the first truly interactive community on the Internet to bring Internet users, conservative public policy organizations, congressional staff, and political activists together under the broad umbrella of ‘conservative’ thoughts, ideas and actions,” says the website. “Townhall.com is a one-stop mall of ideas in which people congregate to exchange, discuss and disseminate the latest news and information from the conservative movement. Townhall.com is committed to inform, educate and empower the public through this emerging electronic medium.” Townhall features major conservative news down to minor items of interest to conservatives such as this December 8 item from conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan: “Hillsdale College has announced the appointment of Victor Davis Hanson, a classical scholar and renowned military historian, as a Distinguished Fellow. The college will be Dr. Hanson’s principal academic home, where he will teach two courses for one month during each fall term.” Or this on the same day from the Alliance Defense Fund: “Eight-year-old Harrison Kravat brought a thick book of Bible stories to read during ‘quiet reading time’ at his school in Louisiana. . . . When the open time arrived, he pulled out his book, only to be told by the teacher to not bring it back because it was ‘too thick to fit in his desk.’ But that was not the real reason, as Harrison and his parents would soon find out. Harrison complied and brought a thin New Testament to read instead. The teacher reprimanded him and told him that he would just have to read the other books available in the class.” ADF threatened a lawsuit and saved the day. “It’s a real one-stop shop for conservative research, commentary, and opinion,” said Garthwaite. “Conservatives can talk to each other.” Just recently, Townhall joined with Meetup.com to move some of those talks into the real world. “On December 2, thousands of conservatives met across the country to discuss the issues, news, and local and national politics,” Townhall reports. “The Townhall Conservative MeetUp is off to the most successful start in MeetUp history. Month after month your local groups will grow and begin to really make a difference.” “We had almost 12,000 people signed up,” Garthwaite said. “We’re guessing 3,000 to 5,000 people actually showed up at 166 locations around the country.” “Your next MeetUp is Tuesday, January 6 at 7 p.m.,” says the website. “Get together with other conservatives in your neighborhood to: Discuss current events and issues with other like-minded individuals; Find support from other conservatives in your area; Discover how to mobilize in your community to make sure the conservative voice is heard.” The Internet enables conservatives to get information denied to them by the liberal media. “Fox News has its viewers but that’s nothing compared to the liberal media’s dominance,” Garthwaite said. “I think a lot of conservatives have realized they have to educate themselves.” Another advantage of the Internet is the wide variety of its offerings. “Our stable of conservative commentators is quite comprehensive and bigger than whatever you can put in print,” he noted. Townhall has other, off-the-beaten-track sections, too: “We have a stable of about 100 amateur book reviewers,” said Garthwaite. Garthwaite said that conservative Americans must become active and stay active. “There are no permanent victories,” he said. “It means our job’s not done.” Noting that “federal spending keeps going up,” he said that conservatives cannot rest just because Republicans are in office. “A particular party is not your savior,” he said. Townhall.com may be reached at 214 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002 (202-608-6099; fax: 202-544-7330; website: www.townhall.com).
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