("Quid coniuratio est?")
THE WOES OF AN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
"Hey, I don't read this CN just to here you whine, Mr. big-shot Editor-in-Chief! How about just sticking to the news from now on, huh?"
This may be one of the e-mail messages I will receive in response to this latest issue of Conspiracy Nation (CN). For in this issue I will describe some of the woes I go through.
For starters, this morning I logged on and was informed that I had 133 messages in my mailbox. That is 133 messages that I have to read and respond to in just 1 day.
I average about 100 new e-mail messages per day. But here I will introduce a sort of character we get in the conspiratologist community: the side-walking sharp-eyed hawkcrab. This crustacean sees "one step beyond": "Yeah sure it's very nice and all how Redman does this news service. But see how sharp-eyed I am: I raise the further question, 'Just what do we really know about this Redman fellow?' He says he gets about 100 new e-mail messages per day. But are you telling me that he has to answer all that e-mail every day? Why that would mean he has to spend at least an hour a day doing just that! (You see, I am a bit more sharp-eyed than my dumb looks would lead you to believe.)"
One example of the type e-mail I often get is the "I'm so angry that I am cancelling CN" message. Currently, when you subscribe, you get a message welcoming you and telling you how to cancel should you so wish. I even have in the welcome message that there's no need to tell me that you are cancelling. I furthermore let new subscribers know that if they need to cancel, that is O.K. I'm glad to have you aboard, but I understand that, for whatever reason, you may decide to cancel. I point out that the material is controversial and you may be quite upset by what you read. I say that there's no need to send me a "please cancel" message in which you say how angry you are about the latest CN and that you're just gonna show me and cancel. But every day I get messages saying to cancel. How is it that these people are able to follow the instructions and send their subscription request to the listproc, yet their cancels they send to me?
In case anyone is interested, I have a file all set up explaining the proper way to cancel. So, when these tedious "I'm so angry I'm cancelling" messages come my way, I don't need to type in an individual response; I just load the pre-written message and send it back to them.
Another common message I have to wade through each day is what I call the "bounce back" message. That happens when someone subscribes and then, for whatever reason, their subscribing address ceases to exist. Then I get quite arcane and long messages saying that such and such address doesn't exist. I have to wade through all the esoteric computerese, searching for just what is the address I am supposed to cancel. After deciphering the computerese, I send a cryptic message to the listproc which is supposed to cancel the address. But, there are some addresses that I keep cancelling and they keep popping back up. So that next day I'll get another message saying that such and such address does not exist and that I should not send e-mail there. So I'll cancel it again and next day it will still be there, even after the listproc had confirmed it was cancelled! Other type messages are bounce backs saying that delivery is "deferred". Other bounce backs say that the address doesn't exist, but they don't tell me what the address is! So how can I cancel it?
I know you may be saying that I should just implement the auto- delete function. But the trouble is that for technical reasons Cornell does not support it. So I must spend an hour a day just deciphering bounce backs. So why don't I just switch to a different listproc? The answer is that a good listproc, one that I pay for, costs money. If just 1 person in 5 of CN readers would cough up the $20 to subscribe to the CN Newsletter, that might be do-able. As it now stands, many readers able to afford a computer still cannot come up with $20 to help this news service stay afloat. I understand that times are hard, you may be poor, etcetera -- but I cannot get just 1 out of 5 persons to subscribe to the monthly newsletter. So that is another part of my day, handling the bounce backs.
Here's another common message I get: the "should" message. Lately certain critics have been indulging their leisure by sending me unsought advice on what I "should" be covering in CN. Here's a clue for such persons, how I react to the word "should": There was this fellow named Fritz Perls who was somewhat popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s. I know that a lot of psychiatrists/psychologists are just part of the tools used by the oppressive state and/or a lot of them are full of it. I know that. Still, there are a few whose work I admire. Fritz Perls is one of them. He authored a book published as Gestalt Therapy Verbatim in which he vocalized some of his ideas. One thing he said was that the word "should" was the one "dirty word" in the English language. "Watch out when you hear the word 'should.'" Another way to put it is to watch out when people try to "should" on you. So this may give certain critics a clue as to my own personal reaction to their messages wherein they use the "should" word.
I also have to deal with legal issues. Big "news" outfits like the New York Times, Washington Post, etc., have lawyers on their staff with whom they can consult before going to press. I, on the other hand, have got to be not only the editor but also the legal department. So I have got to try to figure out just what I am allowed to say without risk of lawsuit. One good example is when I had interviewed Debra von Trapp and she said something about Chip Berlet that he didn't like. And then Berlet demanded that I make a retraction of von Trapp's statement! And he made noises like he was going to sue me. So I had to put aside all the critics telling me what I "should" be doing, all of the bounce back messages, and study a little bit about the law and what I can be sued for. I'm still not any kind of expert, but at least I have some sort of clue as to what I can safely say.
Do you begin to see all the grief I have to go through, just to get out an "e-zine" that takes you about 5 minutes to read? Yet there is some satisfaction on my own part, a good feeling I get, that I have made my own small dent against the universe of lies.
But I am not NBC. I am not the New York Times. They have large staffs, lots of money -- they could be covering all the stories that certain people keep mealy-mouthing that I "should" be covering. Well guess what? I can't do it! Why not start yapping at the heels of Time magazine, which could reasonably be expected to fulfill your expectations, instead of at me? I am just one person at a computer. Carnegie does not fund me. CIA does not slip me money. It's just me here, losing money, one man and a computer.
Which brings me to how I began. It was just me, about 3 years ago, sending out an alternative news service about once a day. And from there, more and more people began to read what I had to say. But see, it has been my effort that has slowly built up the readership. So guess what? If I can do it, so can you. Of course it's easier just to carp at me and what I'm doing. Still, if you want, you yourself can pick up the slack and show me how you can do it better.
How have I formed CN, what are its guidelines? I set up CN to target a specific niche: people without a lot of time on their hands. My ideal for CN is a daily article that people can read in 5 minutes. Sure, you can pester me to send out a deluge of info, you can swamp me with all kinds of long articles and all types of stories that need to be told. But what you don't understand is that CN is set up to be what is called "low volume" -- no huge quantities of info going out; no avalanche falling into the readers' mailboxes. That is why even though many good articles are sent my way some of them never get passed along via CN. CN is not set up to handle large volume. That means that if I get 10 good articles, only 1 of them gets sent out. What's that you say? You don't agree with how I do it? Too bad.
Something else: when someone gives me grief about what I "should" be doing, how I "should" be running things, I also look to see if they are a subscriber to the CN Newsletter. Funny thing is that most of my major critics are not paid subscribers to the newsletter!
Here's my favorite klunk message from a CN reader: one reader, from Wisconsin I think it was, sent an e-mail explaining that his daughter was in school down here but she didn't have a telephone. Could I go to her place, knock on the door, explain who I am, and ask her to please phone her father collect?
Another reader criticized my digging through "ancient newspapers". He sneered about "How come you can find time to dig through ancient newspapers but you can't hurry up and get this article I sent out there right now, right this minute?" I admit I blew my stack at that one. My answer to him was that I am the goddamn editor and I'll send out whatever stories I decide. Don't like it? Then cancel. I lose no money by your cancelling.
(Just why is it that I should especially give a damn if some reader cancels or not? Just why is it that I should give a damn as to what some reader thinks about me and my "rag"? Why should I care just whose ears a certain reader may be whispering into behind my back, seeking his shanty-town vengeance in a sneaky way?)
Here's a tip about "hurry up" jobs. Sometimes people will send you an article and say "Hurry, hurry, hurry! Get this out right now!" What these people don't understand is that I have got to be careful about what I put out there. Take, for example, the article I sent out by Jon Rappoport. Now Rappoport is a fine fellow and I think highly of his work. And when I saw that I had been sent the transcript of his interview of Hoppy Heidelberg, I began on my own to think about how best to schedule it. But I wanted to read through the article before I sent it out. Suppose, for example, that some "dirty trickster" had inserted a fake message of a hateful nature right smack dab in the middle of the transcript and I then unknowingly sent that out! Can you imagine what some biased journalists might do with that? They could write something like, "Redman claims he won't touch hate material. So why is it, Mr. Editor-in-Chief, that you sent out the following?" Can you see why when I get this "Hurry, hurry, hurry stuff" I have got to ignore it and instead "chew on things a bit?" But some persons who have no experience whatsoever at what I have been doing for almost 3 years now, nonetheless will waste no time giving me headaches when I don't do what their ignorance demands.
I note that I am past the 5 minute reading niche. So, if you are still reading this let me thank you for helping me dump some of this stuff. We now resume our normal programming.......
I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."
See also: http://www.europa.com/~johnlf/cn.html
See also: ftp ftp.shout.net pub/users/bigred