Thomas L. Knapp

Tom Knapp is the publisher of Rational Review.

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Thoughts on RRND's 100th edition
by Thomas L. Knapp

Wow. No, really! Wow. Tonight -- after I write this but probably before you read it -- I'll be putting the 100th issue of Rational Review News Digest together. Not just the 100th issue, but the 100th consecutive issue. RRND has been published, every weekday except holidays, without interruption, since we decided to go ahead with it.

We started off small -- 10 news articles and 10 commentaries each day -- but we quickly worked up to a normal inventory of 20 of each. Last month, we added a "movement news and events" section. Averaged out, over the course of our run so far, we've probably brought our readers an average of 35 stories each day.

3,500 articles under the bridge. That's a lot of material, isn't it?

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We've covered the changeover of Senate leadership, a war in Iraq, the War on Drugs, a foofooraw over all-male golf courses, the (hopeful) death of Total Information Awareness, the conception of PATRIOT II, the general strike in Venezuela, the quagmire of Afghanistan, the Irish and Israeli "peace processes," the overturn of the Tulia convictions, the railroading of Ed Rosenthal, the birth -- and death -- of the latest non-existent GOP "tax cut," the arming of pilots, the disarming of American citizens (and a lot of the stories that prove that's a really, really bad idea) ...

We've covered commentary from just about every angle, too. Libertarian, of course, including fine material from writers like L. Neil Smith, Ilana Mercer, Tibor Machan, Jacob G. Hornberger, Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, Alan Bock, Brad Spangler, Jacob Sullum, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell ... heck, I'm going to stop naming names before I overrun our server's disk quota. But not just orthodox libertarian stuff. We've also carried commentaries from the left (Salon, Slate, Mother Jones, The Nation, Village Voice) and the right (Town Hall, FrontPageMag, The American Conservative, Ether Zone, WorldNetDaily), and from authors and sources which defy categorization.

I'm sure we've missed some stories. But I think we've done a pretty damn good job, over the course of our first 100 editions, of bringing our readers the most timely and important news coverage, and most comprehensive package of editorial perspectives, on the things that affect freedom in the US and around the world.

"We," of course, being the four rugged individualists who manage to work together as a team to make RRND happen, five days a week, week in and week out. The idea was, I think, mine -- but it took R. Lee Wrights, Steve Trinward and Mary Lou Seymour to make it happen, on three days notice and with no idea of whether it could succeed or not. And two other particularly rugged individualists -- L. Neil Smith and Scott Bieser -- who, along with Lee, Steve and Mary Lou, make the 'zine side of Rational Review the premier web journal of libertarian news and commentary on politics and culture.

Yay, us.

And yay, you ... the 2,096 readers who, as I write this, constitute RRND's email subscription roster and the 200 or so who visit us each day on the web. Including, of course, the many of you who have contributed to make it possible for us to bring you RRND.

For those of you who haven't ... are you convinced yet? Early on, one of our major contributors expressed his overriding concern: he wanted to support a good thing, but he didn't want to throw money at something that wasn't going to survive. I told him that we were going to stick it out, and he believed me. I think that was about 60 editions ago.

One hundred editions is just the start, constant reader. We've warmed up with a lap around the track. Now we're limber and in good form for the marathon. I'd like to share with you some of the progress we're making here at Rational Review:

  • Yesterday, I made the first payment on our new web hosting service from SafetyNet Associates. We'll probably make our move this weekend, so as to minimize any problems with our readers reaching the site. We expect to be able to serve our pages faster, and the "back end" is going to allow us to produce a better RRND and a better Rational Review. We aren't planning to get all fancy -- Java, ActiveX and other stuff that requires plugins and hogs resources just isn't our style -- but I expect to be able to increase the amount of content we can put in front of you, the quality of that content, and the timeliness with which it appears. We may also be moving RRND to a dedicated majordomo and off of Yahoo! Groups.

  • As you've no doubt noticed, Mary Lou Seymour joined Rational Review when RRND was created, and quickly began to reprise -- and improve -- her Liberty Action of the Week column. The email subscription base for that feature is already at 550 members and growing. Well, there's going to be more ... our bookstore is still in business, and we're going to stop neglecting it and start offering Rational Review's readers the quality book reviews that they expect. In tonight's posting of new zine content, Steve Trinward dredges up a review of Hope, one of the great libertarian books of the new century. Stand by next week for my own review of Adventure Capitalist, the new blockbuster from Jim Rogers. We're also looking closely at doing a "hot site of the month" feature.

  • Our partnerships with other worthwhile enterprises continue. The discussion board at LibertyForum has boosted our reader participation. We've been able to deliver free, one-year subscriptions to Educational Freedom Press to a number of premium and subscribing donors. Now, we're working out the details of a similar arrangement with Privacy Alert, Vin Suprynowicz's outstanding premium newsletter.

  • Rational Review Press is snorting along. We've had some technical delays with our forthcoming re-release of L. Neil Smith's classic, Tom Paine Maru, but that's coming soon. My e-booklet on "Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed" has sold 100 copies or so, and the readers have come back with positive reviews. My new one, "Tom Knapp's No B******t Guide to E-Zine Publishing," is just out and hasn't caught on yet ... but it will. In the near future, we plan to get back to the "Practivism" series with e-booklets on "Writing the Libertarian Press Release," "Organizing the Libertarian Event" and other concise, nuts and bolts guides to the basic tasks involved in successful political work.

We're here to stay, and it just gets better from here on out. But, as usual, the fly in the ointment is money.

Once again, I must ask: are you convinced yet? Are Rational Review, its editors, and RRND worthy of your financial support? Have we proven that we're not fly-by-night artists, but instead a team of competent individuals who deliver? If so, please take the time to kick in. You can support our individual editors, or Rational Review in general, here. If you'd like to target that support to RRND, we have donation links on our news page, and we offer some very nice premiums to our larger donors and to those who choose to commit to a small monthly donation. In the near future -- the very near future, maybe even by the time you read this -- we'll be accepting StormPay, in addition to PayPal, E-Gold and Amazon.Com's Honor System.

As I've mentioned before (the numbers change as circulation rises) if each RRND subscriber kicked in $23.85 a year, or if each of Rational Review's 11,000 monthly readers ponied up $4.55 per year, or some combination thereof, we'd be well set to not only continue, but expand, our operations here ... and I'd get to spend less time and bandwidth asking for money.

But enough of that. As I said at the beginning of this piece ... wow. One. Hundred. Editions. Yay us, yay you, yay Rational Review. Thanks for making the journey with us.

Tom Knapp
Rational Review

May 7, 2003