"Look at this, Hank -- we're getting scores of visitors even while I'm building the site!" Doonesbury says.
"Welcome," he types. "Here at Bernie's Byte Shack, we take great pride in our fine line of infotainment software products, all of which are available for purchase right here!"
"Uh-oh," says his friend.
"Hey...they're all leaving!" Moans Doonesbury.
"Quick," Hank says, "Offer them something free!"
We know just how Doonesbury feels.
Every week, hundreds of people visit the Albion Monitor for the first time. The overwhelming majority leave within seconds -- presumably after learning that it's not free.
We understand why. After all, there are tens of thousand web pages to visit, and only so much time. If I can't read the Albion Monitor (I've heard people say), I can find something just as good at another web site.
On the average, about 60 percent of the Albion Monitor appears nowhere else on the Internet. Each issue has provided a news scoop, such as revealing that programs designed to help the poor and minorities are often exploited by the wealthy and whites -- a shocking story which appeared in no other newspaper. And sometimes we dig just a little bit further than anyone else, such as the story showing most human radiation experiments were performed on the Bay Area poor or mentally ill.
You'll also find each issue has exclusive, in-depth features; at 25,000 words, our profile of famed muckraker Jessica Mitford is most comprehensive article about her to appear anywhere. And our feature on last spring's Round Valley murders accurately predicted the startling revelations that are just now emerging in the courtroom.
There are also our columnists, Mark Lowenthal of Project Censored and Sara Peyton. And Simone Wilson's popular Footprints series offers North Bay hikes that bring history alive.
So that's a little more than half of each issue. Another 20 percent (or so) comes mostly from newswires, which you can't read without expensive subscriptions.
What's left is information that you can read elsewhere on the Internet -- if you knew where to find it. Through our pages, you've learned about Eric Margolis' excellent Foreign Correspondent column, available by listserv subscription. Same with Dan Yurman's Western Land series, which offers chilling tales of extremists in Idaho and Montana.
We've also hopefully introduced you to other on-line magazines and journals you didn't know about, such as American Prospect, Freedom Writer, Covert Action, The Brookings Review, and many more.
The bottom line is that we provide a service, just like your daily newspaper. Part of that service is our original content; the other part of it is our editing, choosing what we think will be to your interest. And for reasons explained in our last editorial (and others), we feel strongly that the only way we can bring you an unbiased source of news and commentary is to proudly refuse all advertising.
This puts the burden of support on you, the readers. If you want investigative journalism covering the environment, human rights, politics, and more, you'll find it here. As the readership base grows, we'll eventually be able to offer the Albion Monitor weekly. And we'll also be able to expand free services to the Internet, such as searchable databases of important archives.
We hope you'll take a look around, and we hope you'll like what you see. If you do, we also hope you'll subscribe. With each issue we try to offer the best source of news on the Internet, or anywhere else. More exclusive stories, more important-but-overlooked news, more information that you want to know.
Hope to see you then.
Jeff Elliott, Editor