From the Publishers
Happy anniversary to us!
by Chris Klein
his issue marks the beginning of our third year of publication.
As the saying goes, "what a long strange trip its been."
The genesis of ET was actually a newspaper San Diego
Earth Day published for Earth Day each year. Produced by volunteers under
less than ideal conditions, each issue was warmly received and well regarded.
The time was mid-1993, and I was looking for a new endeavor.
Twenty-five years in the computer industry was more than enough (I still
depend on my Macintosh, but I'm glad I don't have to program it). My wife
Carolyn and our friend Bobby, fresh from pushing the '93 edition out the
door, decided it would be A Good Thing to do a regular newspaper which sought
to build support for environmentally conscious products, businesses and
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Really, what
could be better? We would be working for ourselves, doing something of real
social value that reflected our commitment to the environment. The 50 to
70 thousand people who attend the EarthFair each year supported our belief
that the general public might be ready for it.
There were still big questions: Would advertisers support
it? Would we be able to distribute it? Where would we get the articles?
What works as a once-a-year venture by a volunteer-based non-profit doesn't
necessarily translate into an ongoing success. But, I love new challenges
and we had a little money in the bank, and there is only really one way
to answer those questions, so ... Earth Media was incorporated and the Earth
Times was born.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it still
seems like a good idea, but there have been moments. It's been said that
publishing is an expensive way to purchase an education. No argument here.
Still, if one pays attention, it's a pretty good education. Like, for instance,
the green sunflower incident.
Our color covers, for me, have always been a significant
feature of the publication. We get to print some great nature shots, and
it helps distinguish ET from the dozens of other free pubs. So, I always
want the covers to be just right. I practically torture the printers to
get the colors as accurate as possible.
The October '94 cover of ET was the image of a brilliant
golden sunflower. However, when the edition came off the presses, I was
in shock - the sunflower was a lime green color. I had bungled the color
separations, and no amount of tweaking the press was going to help. Lesson
one: get a whole lot better at making color separations.
Still, we had 30,000 lime green issues - now what? Well,
we immediately sent out 10,000 to distribution, printed 20,000 new (golden)
covers, and over the next four days an army of friends and other volunteers
helped replace the 20,000 still in stock. With little delay, the issue was
on the street. Lesson 2: when you really need help, people are willing to
pitch in. Lesson 3: green printers ink is hard to get out from under your
It was with some surprise and dismay that I later heard
several readers comment, in effect, "Wow! I really liked that green
sunflower." Oh well. Lesson 4: what I like and the readers like aren't
necessarily the same.
Still, all in all, its been a wonderful experience.
ET seems to have a growing, dedicated readership: over the last few months,
we've increased the distribution to 36,000 copies and there are very few
returns to be recycled at the end of the month. When we ask permission to
distribute ET at a business, over half say yes. This reaffirms our belief
that citizens have an abiding interest in and concern for the environment
- a hopeful sign that the toxic sell-outs to big money and special interests
haven't completely poisoned the grass roots.
Equally important, our readers are patronizing our advertisers (please continue!),
which means they are getting results, keep advertising, and we can pay our
bills. You can't get the word out if you can't afford the paper.
In closing, I want to acknowledge a few individuals
for their extraordinary contributions. The first is Bonnie Eddlemon, our
sales coordinator. I'm a lousy salesman, and she is single-handedly responsible
for our economic viability. When we first met, she told me, "I knew
there was a reason I moved out here from Michigan. This paper is it."
Her commitment to ET and the environment are outstanding and we couldn't
do it without her.
Next, I want to thank Susan Self. I first met Susan
when working in the Technical Publications department at my old computer
company. What most impressed me was her fierce commitment to quality in
the face of a just-get-it-out-the-door attitude. Today she is an active
volunteer with Zero Population Growth, and provides the final proofreading
for ET because she believes in the cause. If you find grammatical errors
in our articles, it means that Susan hasn't read it.
Finally, thank you - the reader - for making this dream