The Daily Signal debuted Tuesday. It's billed as a source of "digestible" policy news for busy readers increasingly tethered to their smartphones (the Signal's mobile and tablet platform was designed by the well-respected Atlantic Media Strategies). More abstractly, it is founded on the "Jeffersonian notion that the greatest defense of liberty is an informed citizenry."
Heritage's upstart website is compartmentalized by popular topics an AMS spokesman calls "passion points": the front page goes by the viral-minded title Must Reads; other sections are devoted to Benghazi, Common Core, Cronyism and Obamacare.
These featured topics are favorites with the conservative base, but The Daily Signal hopes to be a bigger tent by producing "straight-down-the-middle journalism," according to Publisher Geoffrey Lystraught. The site's news section will be accompanied by a conservative opinion page targeted at young people.
Think tanks have long housed blogs like Heritage's Foundry (supplanted by The Daily Signal) and ThinkProgress, which is run by the liberal Center for American Progress. The Daily Signal will differentiate itself by directing content at ordinary Americans rather than inside-the-Beltway professionals.
The team Heritage has amassed to power The Daily Signal reflects this priority. While The Daily Signal will consult Heritage's scores of policy experts for "perspective," experienced journalists will package its content. Hires include Sharyl Attkisson, formerly of CBS News, and Katrina Trinko, formerly of National Review.
The Daily Signal's launch follows the lead of other think tanks and advocacy groups. The National Rifle Association, for example, has created a television news operation and a host of other niche media products for gun owners and Second Amendment rights supporters. Its most recent project, a chic blog and glossy magazine called NRA Sharp, is aimed at "the culturally curious gun owner."
Heritage was among the first think tanks to reach out to individuals outside Washington. In 2010 it spun off Heritage Action, an advocacy organization that works independently of the foundation to reach citizen activists, who in turn influence politicians. Unlike the foundation, which is constrained by its tax-exempt status, Heritage Action has the latitude to endorse legislation and score politicians.