Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Midterm Report Card

My "From the Editor" column, which appears in the November-December 2007 issue of California Freedom:

This is my sixth issue as editor. Half a year. An appropriate time to self-assess my achievements and shortfalls.

My biggest disappointment is that California Freedom is not reaching members quickly enough for my satisfaction. My first issue (June) was fast on the heels of May, but later issues took longer. It's been a rocky road.

In June our printer dropped CF because our account wasn't large enough. LPC Executive Director Angela Keaton began a frantic search for a new printer that could do the job in time for the July issue, and within our budget. She came through, as always.

But then the post office created additional delays regarding our non-profit, periodical rate postal permit for the new printer. Angela worked to cut through the postal red tape.

An Executive Director (by whatever title) facilitates the efficient delivery of CF. She maintains the membership database, keeping track of who's joined the party, who's paid up, who's lapsed. She forwards the current mailing list to the printer. She collects dues from members and payment from advertisers. She sends complimentary copies to advertisers and contributors.

In August, Angela left. She was replaced by LPC Secretary Beau Cain, who's been working hard on the database, learning what needs to be done. (Read about Beau's work and his call for volunteers in this issue's "Welcome to YOUR Office.") Treasurer Don Cowles now handles CF's financials, sending invoices and making payments. They've both done a fine job.

Days before Angela left, CF's layout editor, Muffet Brown, announced that she was resigning to pursue other work. She expected September to be her final issue, but upon hearing of Angela's departure, she agreed to stay on a bit longer, in order to ease the transition.

I expect to take over the layout work and am learning Adobe InDesign. (Kudos to Mike Laursen for generously lending the LPC a copy for my use). For now, Muffet is doing the layout, though her new work takes priority over CF which she continues to do largely as a favor to the party.

The post office continues its slow pace. Some members report getting CF up to a month after it leaves our Georgia printer. One ExCom At-Large Member suggested we hire a local printer. That would speed delivery, but might increase costs. It's expensive doing business in California.

But delivery is only one stage. Producing CF involves four separate stages. First, I write and edit the paper. When that stage is mostly complete, Muffet begins the layout, followed by my proofing its text. In the third stage the layout file goes to the printer, after which Muffet proofs the colors, and Beau confirms the current mailing list. Then the post office takes over.

Hopefully, merging editorial and layout in a single person will speed things up.

How can you help? By submitting articles, letters, photos, and cartoons. This is a combined issue partially because I haven't gotten many submissions. (I need you to write articles, not send me ideas for someone else to write.)

Maybe you've not written anything because you don't think you're good enough?

Don't "not submit" because your piece is not perfect. Just write it. I'm here to edit. Almost nothing has been published these past six issues without my meddling--from minor punctuation changes to extensive rewrites. I've had people submit raw outlines that I've polished into articles. I expanded a single paragraph into a short article, and trimmed 2,500+ word submissions to under 700.

Don't delay because your piece is not perfect. Someone promised me an article last June, and has since periodically informed me that he's "still working on it."

I'm grateful to John Briscoe, Norm Westwall, Lawrence K. Samuels, and Elizabeth C. Brierly, all prolific contributors. In addition to her own pieces, Elizabeth routinely submits material from the Independent Institute and (like Lawrence) has directed me to other contributors.

But though I'm unsatisfied with CF's current delivery speed, many of my goals I have achieved:

* I wanted greater coverage of the most important political issue facing our nation and state: the current and future wars. Mission accomplished.

* I wanted to encourage discussion and debate of philosophical and party procedural issues. Done.

* I wanted a larger and livelier "Letters to the Editor" section. Done.

* I wanted greater coverage of libertarians in the arts. Done. Most past issues have profiled a Hollywood Libertarian. (But I need your help on this -- if you know of any libertarians in the arts, please inform me so that I can promote them!)

* We've also increased our advertising sales. Since I've taken over, CF has lost one advertiser, but gained two.

I hope to have speedier delivery of CF by spring 2008, after the holiday madness and convention chaos have subsided. I also expect to attend our state convention in San Diego. Look for me and let me know what you think.

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