Editorial - Fifty ... and Fabulous!
Here we are at 50 issues. We have reached a milestone. For such an occasion I should be writing a gung-ho, "ra-ra" editorial. But I did one of those last issue. I was also gung-ho & ra-ra in my Free Radical Foundation speech, "Reality Check". That was published in TFR 47. What I want to do here is acknowledge a further reality - that we haven’t got to Issue 50 without an ongoing financial struggle - & to deal with some matters arising in its wake.
In soliciting contributions to help ease that struggle recently, a supporter received the following responses about The Free Radical. They’re enlightening, in that the respondents didn’t think their comments would be passed back to me. Thus they didn’t mince their words. As a way to mark Issue 50, I’d like to reply to them, point by point.
1.) Too many profanities.
Actually, there are very few - & any at all would probably be too many for this respondent. I let them through if I think they help make the point more effectively or wittily. The title of Matt Ballin’s essay, "A Tale of Two Shitties", for instance, was first suggested to me by Matt as a joke. I told him that, seriously, I thought it was a great title, given the content of his article. After thinking about it for a bit, Matt agreed.
2.) What happened to the Hope File?
This is also a bugbear of "Hooch" Helen Hughes, who keeps on my case about it. Since she has been invaluable in keeping The Free Radical - & hope - alive, I give it a lot of weight. But in truth, once the current government came to power, there were just too few items to make up a decent-sized Hope File with (it was pretty dire under the previous government). Having a miniscule Hope File next to a bulging Horror File is actually more dispiriting, in my view, than not having a Hope File at all. However, point noted - & I’ll keep it under review.
3.) Too much philosophy.
Again, I suspect that any philosophy is too much for some. I make no apology for my view that the battle for freedom is ultimately a battle of ideas. Philosophy is the realm of ideas. Every freedom-promoting publication should have it. There are still plenty of articles for those who cannot make the connection, or don’t want to make the effort.
4.) What's with the centre fold?
"Celebrating the beauty of the human form", that’s what. This is not a Christian or Muslim publication that views the flesh as evil, contemplation of which should be banned. The centrefold revels in human beauty, sometimes with works of art, sometimes with live models. If you don’t enjoy it, shut your eyes & skip to page 24.
5.) Sick of the student drivel.
This one I couldn’t figure out.
6.) Less philosophical debate and more comment on NZ current affairs required.
The magazine will always have both. It will also run comment on international current affairs as it seeks to gain a bigger overseas readership. US agent Matt Ballin has more than doubled the number of subscribers from his country in his first couple of months in the position. If he keeps going at that rate we’ll be not just “the best libertarian publication in the world” but also the most widely-read in no time! Meaning - I must include material that is of parochial interest to American readers. With so many American writers here, that’s not difficult.
7.) More of Lindsay's brilliant editorials please, as missing terribly the PI show ones.
Four recent ones are also published in this issue.
8.) The Free Rad needs advertising to increase revenue. To get advertising it needs a bigger circulation.
To get a bigger circulation it needs more universal appeal. To have more universal appeal the message would have to be sanitised. This defeats the purpose. TFR's days are numbered.
I’m not about to take my cue from one misery-guts & throw in the towel just yet. True, unsanitised, the message is hard to sell. "Hard" is not "impossible." I cannot believe a mentality that would say, "Turn your back on what you have achieved & give up."
9.) Please send me a subscription form and a Libz membership renewal.
This one I liked.
10.) Like it just the way it is.
This one I liked also. I always assume that my readers have the intelligence & generosity of spirit to appreciate that no magazine is ever going to satisfy everyone all the time with every article, & that, given that stricture, the FreeRad is pretty darn good. If we treat each issue as a birthday, then the FreeRad & I are now the same age. In all my years on earth, I have never done anything of which I’m prouder. It is sacred to me.
As usual at this time of year, I’m taking an additional month out from the regular two-month schedule, so that the next issue will appear in March, 2002. I want to take this opportunity to offer some thanks:
To Peter Cresswell, my (relatively) new assistant-editor, whose suggestions have been significantly responsible for the palpable improvements in the magazine since he came on board;
To Cameron Pritchard, who has come on board informally as a sort of assistant assistant- editor;
To Graham Clark, Kale Print’s redoubtable designer, for whom The Free Radical has become a labour of love - having to read issue after issue has made a convert of him!;
To Deborah Coddington. Though she is no longer involved, she was here - & indispensable - at the beginning & for much of the magazine’s turbulent history;
To "Hooch" Helen, Director of the Free Radical Foundation, who has worked her shapely butt off to keep the magazine afloat, keep its editor motivated ... & overlooked his bad moods;
To Ken Riddle, unsung behind-the-scenes hero;
To Matt Ballin for taking the battle to America with such verve & panache;
To Joe Rowlands, Jeff Landauer & Bill Grazier, my web masters, for doing all that painstaking html stuff;
To my writers, all of them unpaid, who recognise the non-monetary "value-for-value" nature of the exchange involved here;
To you, my subscribers. Without you, I would have to throw in the towel. That would be unthinkable. No bugle of liberty in a land of semi-dictatorship? We mustn’t ever let it come to that. You don’t know how important you are!
Merry Xmas to you...& a prosperous & free New Year!
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