Arts & Letters Daily

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Arts & Letters Daily
Type of site
web portal and news aggregator
Available inEnglish
OwnerThe Chronicle of Higher Education
Alexa rankNegative increase 52,496 (November 2014)[1]
LaunchedSeptember 28, 1998[2]

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.


According to founder and former editor Denis Dutton, Arts & Letters Daily was inspired by the Drudge Report[4] 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".[2] Arts & Letters Daily has in turn been the inspiration for similar "idea based" blogs such as Abbas Raza's 3 Quarks Daily."[5]


Arts & Letters Daily's layout, designed in July 1998 by Dutton,[2] "mimics the 18th century English broadsheets and a 19th century copy of a colonial New Zealand periodical, the Lyttelton Times".[6] 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.[7]

Arts & Letters Daily went online in September 1998.[7] 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.[8] Still in 1998, A&L Daily spawned a "sister site", SciTechDaily,[9] 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[7] 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.[7] 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.[3]

In April 2002 The Webby Awards granted A&L Daily a "People's Voice Award" for Best News Website. 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, The Chronicle of Higher Education purchased it along with "the assets of its parent company, which published the magazine Lingua Franca"[10] - and A&L Daily came back online.

By March 2005 the site had attracted more than 2.5 million page views a month and was about to receive its 100-millionth impression.[6]

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".[11]

On December 28, 2010 Denis Dutton died. The Wall Street Journal commented that A&L Daily sent "tens of thousands of new articles to readers whose readership might otherwise be painfully small".[12]

Evan Goldstein of The Chronicle and Tran Huu Dung continue to produce the site.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  2. ^ a b c The gleeful contrarian Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., a November 3, 2000 profile and interview with Denis Dutton by
  3. ^ a b Fulford, Robert (June 26, 2007). "A buffet sure to leave you hungry: Arts & Letters Daily delivers best ideas at high speeds". The National Post.
  4. ^ Dorothy (1998-10-16). "Arts And Letters Daily - ALD". Nzine. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  5. ^ What will be the fate of Arts & Letters Daily? by Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2010
  6. ^ a b Cohen, David (March 7, 2005). "The thinking person's big hit". The Guardian. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d Cohen, David (1999-08-31). "What's the great idea?". Guardian. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  8. ^ Mills, Kirstin (1999-02-02). "'Information Porthole' sets critics on fire". Computerworld. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  9. ^ Mirapaul, Matthew (1998-12-24). "Well-Read on Web". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-17.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ Ragaza, Laarni Almendrala (August 13, 2007). "Top 100 Classic Websites: Arts & Letters Daily". PC Magazine.
  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. ^ "Denis Dutton, Founder of 'Arts & Letters Daily,' Dies". The Chronicle of Higher Education. December 28, 2010.

External links[edit]