Happy birthday, us.

A glance at the calendar reveals that today, August 19th, is our anniversary; exactly one year ago today, the first issue of the Albion Monitor appeared. My, how time flies when you're having fun -- or insanely overworked.

That premiere issue was quite different from our current edition, in some ways. The format wasn't quite settled; you'll find a "Net Surfing" section that was quickly abandoned. The layout also left much to be desired. Looking back on that unpolished page is a bit like gazing at photos from one's gawky teen years.

In other ways the newspaper hasn't changed a whit. We're still covering the "Bear" Lincoln case, last year's headline. Other stories found there include news items about Headwaters, global warming, Oklahoma bombing conspiracy theories, cancers related to stress, and an Amazon tribe fighting oil companies. Our primary focus is still the environment, human rights, politics, and health.

I also stick by every word in the introductory editorial, as well. I still believe that this is a better way to deliver information than smearing ink on dead trees. I still insist that newspapers should serve the readers and not the advertisers, and that the only way we can avoid the inherent ethical conflict is to proudly refuse commercial advertising.

A birthday is a time for the giving of gifts. To celebrate, we have a pair of presents for you. Realizing that most of you only discovered the Albion Monitor in the last few months, we've assembled a page listing the top ten features from our first year. Found here are links to our acclaimed Jessica Mitford profile, investigative stories on the "Bear" Lincoln case, shenanigans of far right extremists (including those in Congress), the sad failure of those expensive "Just Say No" programs, and more. We're sure that you'll enjoy discovering these treasures from our last year.

Our second gift to you is a new, lower price: the Albion Monitor is now just $9.95/year.

Why cut the price by two-thirds? The main reason is that we want a broader readership. Yes, we know that many of you are printing, e-mailing, or faxing articles to friends. I've found non-subscribers quoting the Albion Monitor in USENET discussions, and I've seen audience members at public meetings reading printouts. If you have Internet access and are interested in the topics we cover, we want you to subscribe. At $9.95 -- less than the price of dinner in a local restaurant -- subscribing should be quite a bit less painful.

Anyone with a monitor.net account reads the newspaper free, as always. And anyone who subscribed at the original $29.95 rate is invited to give away two, one-year subscriptions to friends. Just send us their e-mail address and we'll take care of the rest. Look at it this way: we've just made your Christmas shopping a little easier. (We'll also be happy to credit you with two additional years instead.)

Birthdays are also a time for introspection. Who hasn't looked in the mirror and compared their current reflection with the youngster who peered back just a year before? Aren't those grey hairs new? What about those additional inches added (or removed) from the waistline?

And with such quiet promises, birthdays are also a time to redefine your identity. We've done some of that this summer by making the Albion Monitor an ongoing publication, with new articles appearing every few days. By lowering the price we hope to attract a wider group of readers. Those are the most obvious ways we've redefined this journal.

But in a subtle way, both changes bring us closer to our roots. The Albion Monitor is modeled after one of the greatest journalistic efforts of this century, George Seldes' "In fact." Published weekly in the 1940's, Seldes quietly hammered away at the nastiest scandals of his day.

Seldes was often the only journalist exposing the far right during the McCarthy era. (The only other sympatico writer, Drew Pearson, sometimes slipped articles to Seldes that Pearson dared not publish in his own syndicated column.) During WWII, only Seldes revealed that many powerful American businessmen and politicians maintained their connections to Nazi or fascist politicians and industries. And thanks to Seldes, the public first heard about the link between lung cancer and cigarettes.

If you scan our top ten features, I hope you'll see the connection between what Seldes offered and what we aspire to provide. In our current issue, you'll find another example in my profile of Jack Kemp, a politician as dangerous, in my view, as Martin Dies, who was a key player in the Commie witch hunt in the '40's. This ain't the kind of background you're going to find in other magazines and newspapers, either on or off the Internet.

Most appropriately, one of Seldes' first profiles appeared in 1973, entitled, "The Father of Some of Us All." I'd like to count the Albion Monitor as one of his offspring, both in content and spirit. We also cover the extremist right, political scoundrels, and health -- and note that with no commercial ads in his little journal, Seldes had the freedom to expose Big Tobacco's blackest secret.

Another part of the introspection that comes with birthdays and anniversaries is reaffirmation. We swear that we'll be better partners, parents, workers in the coming year. We promise to work harder to be our best.

I can't think of a better way to reaffirm our goals than explaining again the logic behind our name. No, we've explained a thousand times, we're not located in Albion, California, on the Mendocino coast. The name is poetic, not geographic. Change it, our friends and readers sometime politely suggest. Sorry, no. As I wrote in my first editorial:

Monitor is an old-timey newspaper name, like Guardian, Sentinel, Observer, and many others. As our logo shows, it means, "we're watching."

As the first Europeans to visit Northern California, Sir Francis Drake and his crew landed near Point Reyes on July 17, 1579. Drake called the country Nova Albion, and commented upon the beauty of the land and the nobility of the people who lived here, "free from guile or treachery." He stayed for less than a week, then left. Unfortunately, the Europeans who followed in the next four hundred years did not share his respect for the land or the people. We use the name Albion to remind us that we are all visitors, here in Eden.

Jeff Elliott, Editor

Albion Monitor August 19, 1996 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor)

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