THE WOES OF AN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
In Which The CN Editor Feels Sorry For Himself
"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,
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
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"
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
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
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
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.......