You'll notice a few changes in this edition of the Albion Monitor. One difference is that the headers at the top of each page look nicer, yet still function in the same way. In case you haven't discovered this feature, these headers have a dual purpose. They remind you which section of the paper you're reading and also provide a couple of ways to navigate around. Select "Commentary" while reading the letters page, for example, and you'll go to the commentary section page, which provides more details about commentary articles and essays. You can always reach the front page by choosing the "Albion Monitor" side of the header.
But the biggest difference is that the newspaper is now password-protected -- or will be in a few days, after we've finished contacting all our current subscribers. To learn how to obtain a password, read our instructions page. A password is free if you have a monitor.net Internet account, and $29 per year if you use another Internet service.
Many in the 'net community believe everything should be available at no charge. After all, the fundamental principles of the Internet are about sharing ideas and seeking answers. Don't we believe in the free and open exchange of information for the betterment of humanity?
We sure do. Information and ideas should always be freely available to everyone, everywhere. But as with books, magazines, and newspapers published on thin sheets of wood-pulp, the expression of those ideas always costs something.
There are a couple of specific reasons why we have to make this change. One is fairness to our writers, who retain the copyright on stories that appear in the Albion Monitor. As freelance reporters, they need to control where their writings appear -- that's how they make their living. This is the downside of free net accessibility; everything in the net datastream is (essentially) in public domain. None of them can afford to do that.
This public domain aspect of the net also makes publishers wary. There are many good articles that appear in small magazines or newspapers that you never have the chance to see. Those editors will be happy to sell us the rights to reprint those stories, but only on a very restrictive basis; they can't afford to give it away to the world, either. (And hopefully, they'll share some of those payments with the writer.)
Simply put: by making the Albion Monitor available by subscription only, we can provide you with an even better newspaper.
Some highlights from this issue: we reprint the entire series about West Publishing that originally appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. (With permission, of course.) The series probably represents the best investigative journalism that will appear this year; reporters Tom Hamburger and Sharon Schmickle deserve the Pulitzer for their fine work. A related news story explains what has happened since the series appeared, and there's also commentary describing the curious news blackout about this important story.
We provide more coverage of the Headwaters protests than any other newspaper, with exclusive photos. There's more on the Guyana river disaster, described in our last issue, and an update on the militia's falling popularity.
In our next issue: a hypertext feature on Jessica Mitford, exploring her life and career as muckraker supreme. There will also be more on the McLibel trial and an analysis of the situation in Canada, where Native people are rising in protest across the nation.
Hope to see you then.
Jeff Elliott, Editor
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