Arts & Letters Daily

Arts & Letters Daily
Type of site
web portal and news aggregator
Available in English
Owner The Chronicle of Higher Education
Slogan(s) Veritas odit moras
("Truth hates delay")[1]
Alexa rank Negative increase 52,496 (November2014)[2]
Launched September 28, 1998[3]

Arts & Letters Daily is a web portal which links to a diverse array of news stories, features and reviews from across the humanities, each introduced with a short blurb or teaser. The site is owned by The Chronicle of Higher Education.


"A & LD" does for ideas what the Bloomberg service does for commerce. It watches developments, sorts things out, tells you what you need to know. It doesn't produce the profits Bloomberg brings in, but over time its ability to make connections may turn out to be even more important than the stock market.
 Robert Fulford[4]

According to founder and former editor Denis Dutton, Arts & Letters Daily was inspired by the Drudge Report[5] but was meant to reach "the kinds of people who subscribe to the New York Review of Books, who read Salon and Slate and The New Republic people interested in ideas."[3] Arts & Letters Daily has in turn been the inspiration for similar "idea based" blogs such as Abbas Raza's 3 Quarks Daily."[6]


Arts & Letters Daily's layout, designed in July 1998 by Dutton,[3] "mimics the 18th century English broadsheets and a 19th century copy of a colonial New Zealand periodical, the Lyttelton Times."[7] Three columns of links dominate the site: Articles of Note, Book Reviews, and Essays/Opinions.

To the left of the main columns is a series of links to other online content providers, as well as a section titled “Nota Bene" (the Latin for “mark well"), which is the site's fourth and final collection of daily links to articles deemed to be of particular interest.


Arts & Letters Daily originated from “Phil-Lit,” a mailing list created in 1994 by Denis Dutton and D.G. Myers, which served as a symposium on articles and reviews found on the web. When the list reached eight hundred subscribers, Dutton suggested that the articles be put together on a single webpage.[8]

Arts & Letters Daily went online in September 1998.[8] Dutton was assisted in operating the site by three former Phil-Lit subscribers: Sharon Killgrove of the Mojave Desert; Harrison Solow of Malibu, California; and Kenneth Chen, then a student at University of California, Berkeley.[9] Still in 1998, A&L Daily spawned a "sister site," SciTechDaily,[10] run by Dutton's friend Vicki Hyde, a science editor and author whose web company hosted both sites.

By August 1999, A&L Daily was attracting 250,000 monthly readers and praise from USA Today, Wired, and The Observer; the latter called it the world's top website, ahead of The New York Times and[8] The site's high profile led to a bidding war among several potential buyers, in which the online magazines Feed and Slate competed with The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Lingua Franca.[8] Lingua Franca eventually became the owner.

In 2000, Dutton asked Tran Huu Dung, a professor of economics at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, to serve as managing editor of the website. Though Dutton and Dung had never met, the two had corresponded via e-mail.[4]

In April 2002, A&L Daily was awarded a "People's Voice Award" for Best News Website by The Webby Awards. By August, Lingua Franca had declared bankruptcy, and A&L Daily lost its only source of financial support. Dutton and Dung financed the site themselves until October 7, 2002, when A&L Daily went offline. On October 25, 2002, A&L Daily was again online, accompanied by an announcement that The Chronicle of Higher Education had purchased it along with "the assets of its parent company, which published the magazine Lingua Franca."[11]

A&L Daily sent "tens of thousands of new articles to readers whose readership might otherwise be painfully small."[12] By March 2005, the site attracted more than 2.5 million page views a month and was about to receive its 100-millionth impression.[7] In August 2007, PC Magazine included it among its list of "Top 100 Classic Web Sites", crediting the site for "pull[ing] together some of the most interesting reads available on the Web today."[13]

Denis Dutton died on December 28, 2010. Evan Goldstein of The Chronicle and Tran Huu Dung continue to produce the site.[14]


  1. The website points out that "Veritas odit moras" is from line 850 of Seneca the Younger’s version of Oedipus.
  2. " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  3. 1 2 3 The gleeful contrarian Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., a November 3, 2000 profile and interview with Denis Dutton by
  4. 1 2 Fulford, Robert (June 26, 2007). "A buffet sure to leave you hungry: Arts & Letters Daily delivers best ideas at high speeds". The National Post.
  5. Dorothy (1998-10-16). "Arts And Letters Daily - ALD". Nzine. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  6. What will be the fate of Arts & Letters Daily? by Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2010
  7. 1 2 Cohen, David (March 7, 2005). "The thinking person's big hit". The Guardian. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Cohen, David (1999-08-31). "What's the great idea?". Guardian. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  9. Mills, Kirstin (1999-02-02). "'Information Porthole' sets critics on fire". Computerworld. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  10. Mirapaul, Matthew (1998-12-24). "Well-Read on Web". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-17.
  11. "Arts & Letters Daily to Resume Publication After Purchase by The Chronicle". The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 25, 2002. Archived from the original on November 1, 2002.
  12. Sacks, Sam (January 7, 2011). "A Maecenas for the Internet Age: Denis Dutton showed how intellectual life can be made to flourish on the Web". Wall Street Journal (Online). New York.
  13. Ragaza, Laarni Almendrala (August 13, 2007). "Top 100 Classic Websites: Arts & Letters Daily". PC Magazine.
  14. "Denis Dutton, Founder of 'Arts & Letters Daily,' Dies". The Chronicle of Higher Education. December 28, 2010.

External links

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