Prospect in the County:
the first six months-
An Interview with the Fringe Editor
By the F. E.
In recognition of the ½ anniversary of The Sierra County Prospect I had intended to interview the Dissenting Editor, Liz Fisher. Unfortunately she didn’t show for the interview, so I’ll have to interview myself.
Me: Congratulations on the first six months of The Sierra County Prospect.
Myself: Thank you.
Me: The paper seems to be doing quite well.
Myself: Yes, it’s been very well received. Our numbers have been growing steadily.
Me: I understand the prognosis for success wasn’t good when you first published.
Myself: No! We had a very hard time finding the news. Indeed, our first issue actually featured paint peeling. Everyone said people were already loyal to the Sierra Booster and the Mountain Messenger, no one would let us know what was going on. There were some people who had money down that the Prospect wouldn’t make it six months.
Me: I guess they’re paying now.
Myself: Yeah, cost me fifty bucks, but I’m glad we’re still here anyway.
Me: What about your editorial staff. Not many newspapers have a "dissenting editor".
Myself: Not many people have a third nipple, either, but it doesn’t make them bad.
Me: I just mean, having a "fringe" editor and a "dissenting editor" but no actual anyone who proof reads what goes out, what kind of paper does that?
Myself: What kind? Cutting edge, pal, avante guard, a news source ahead of the curve. We don’t waste valuable resources on spelling and punctuation. If that’s what you want, read a textbook. Anyway, language is flexible, ever changing. You probably heard that England, which is the headquarters of the English language, just threw out the "i before e" rule.
Me: No, I hadn’t heard that.
Myself: Well, they did. The queen did it, I think. No more "i before e".
Me: Does that mean we spell it "recieve" now instead of "receive"?
Myself: I’m not sure, it may only apply to words made up after this point. It won’t change much for me, I’m dyslexic and spell-check gave up on me long ago.
Me: I’ve heard allegations that the Prospect sometimes makes up the news.
Myself: Yeah, I started that rumor to build interest in the paper.
Me: And did it work?
Myself: Did it work? Ah, yes! I’m happy to report that it did, indeed, work.
Me: Do you make up the news?
Myself: What is news, really? I mean, something happens, you saw what you saw, I saw what I saw. You know, juries tend to believe eye-witnesses, yet they are the least reliable form of evidence. Sometimes facts don’t tell the truth; that’s what we’re here for. When you live in a county like this, you have to stretch what actually happens. If you would accuse the Prospect of making up news, what do you say about Don Russell at the Mountain Mess? He squeezes six stories, a "crackpot’s desk" and a "Sourdough Jack" out of one Supervisor’s meeting. You think that isn’t making up news?
Me: What about your relationship with Liz Fisher, the Dissenting Editor?
Myself: Look, pal, I already have a wife, lay off.
Me: Rumor has it you often disagree.
Myself: Well, I won’t go into it; let’s just say when someone has a substance problem it effects everyone.
Me: Which one of you has the substance issue?
Myself: One of us? Anyway, I didn’t say Liz has a drinking problem.
Me: Does she?
Myself: I didn’t say so.
Me: Do you?
Myself: I just said I didn’t say so. Let me just say this: Ernest Hemmingway; Hunter S. Thompson, Oscar Wilde. Anyway, it doesn’t matter; all that matters is the chemistry.
Myself: Yeah, by that I don’t mean pharmaceuticals, I mean two people who, when they work together, something magic happens. Liz and I are like that. We were like that twenty years ago.
Me: That’s right, you’ve worked together before.
Myself: Yeah, or rather I worked for Liz, who was managing the Mountain Messenger; best boss I ever had, bar none. That was back in the late 80’s. It was a wonderful time; a lot of people refer to it as "the Golden Age" of the Mountain Messenger.
Me: What about Don Russell?
Myself: He probably doesn’t say that, no.
Me: I mean, you’ve also worked for him.
Myself: I still do. Don’s a great guy. If this was 1909 he’d fit right in. He doesn’t do electrons, though; won’t use an electric razor because he doesn’t want them that close to his face. Not a lot of people know there’s a tinfoil lining in that big hat he always wears.
Me: Let’s get back to Liz Fisher. People have seen you argue in public.
Myself: Yeah, we try to keep it light when there are witnesses.
Me: But, how does that work, exactly?
Myself: That’s exactly how it works. It’s called a "dialectic", a method of reaching the truth used in ancient Greece. Two people with different views try to convince each other; people watching get to hear the best of both views.
Me: The Prospect is the product of disagreement?
Myself: No, not at all. It is the product of discussion. I go left, she goes right, readers can pick what they like. If it weren’t for that balance, we would have to trod the middle of the road, like every other gossip-monger out there.
Me: Still, it must be pretty tough to work like that.
Myself: I’ve said all I’m going to about the drinking, let’s just say that Liz is tough, I am tough, so, yeah, it’s a bitch sometimes. It doesn’t matter. Whatever our personal quirks, we really do care about the readers, and our efforts are always for them. This isn’t like a lot of online newspapers; we’re involved with the people we write for. We want to inform, to entertain, occasionally to upset. It’s all good, and it couldn’t be done without Liz.
Me: What about money?
Myself: You said we’d talk about that after.
Me: I mean, is the Prospect making any money?
Myself: We have about as much profit as most businesses in the county.
Me: So, no, no money.
Myself: When the county does better, we’ll do better. We intend to start charging for ads this month. That will help.
Me: What is your market share?
Myself: It isn’t easy to be sure, since these days a user in Sierra County could be calling in from a server in Western Samoa. We estimate about a quarter of our readers are from out of the area. We do our update on Wednesday, and also generally do a weekend update, so we can put up news we’ve stolen from the Messenger and Booster. We constantly update our content through the week, so smart readers know to check in every few days. We assume we have the attention of 75-80% of the computers in the county, and probably a few hundred more from outside the county. According to search term data, Sierra County Prospect gets relatively frequent hits for the search term "Sierra County", so we do have visitors.
Me: What will your rates be?
Myself: I’m very glad you’ve asked, you can read them on this page. (link)
Me: What about your relationship with the local politicos?
Myself: Why, what have you heard?
Me: Well, there are rumors that you’ve been in bed with some of the Supervisors.
Myself: My personal life is my own, I refuse to remark on my whereabouts on May 17th or any other night. Photos can be doctored, that’s all I’m going to say. This interview is over, now get out. By the way, you heard it here first.