Slowing Down

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 17, 2017 - 03:19:00 PM

As I said in a recent email to my 25+ hyper-extended Bay Area family members, Thanksgiving has snuck up on us. There are so many things going wrong in the world at the moment that I can’t choose amongst them for something to write about, and I notice Bob Burnett reports similar sentiments. It’s time to put the Planet on a rolling schedule, at least through the holidays and maybe longer.

For authority I refer you to an editorial I wrote in 1993, citing a brilliant column by Ellen Goodman which still graces my refrigerator door, yellowed and crumbling. Her theme was that you can’t fax in a Thanksgiving dinner—and now faxes have mostly died, but the turkeys live on (well, not exactly, but you know what I mean.)

And about the rolling schedule idea: I seem to be wedded to (or stuck with) the legacy software which came with our original $14,000 purchase of the remains of the original Berkeley Daily Planet. But as we have adjusted to the all-online world, I notice that I’ve achieved something like what I wanted to do in the first place, back when I put my journalistic inclinations on hold, faced with the necessity of participating in the family tech enterprise. The print Planet was massive overkill.

I’ve always wanted to have a publication that was nothing but letters to the editor. I’ve always had a lot of friends who were both smart and pretty darn good writers, and by encouraging them to send along their informed opinions we’ve had a lot of great copy in the last—how many years has it been now since the print Planet died?

We've kept on posting some straight news when we had it. But with no paid staff we’re really out of the news biz.

There are several local-ish publications, both online and in print, which try to keep an eye on Berkeley news. Overall, they do a credible job, so we don't need to.

We’ve maintained a subscription to the Bay City News Service on behalf of our readers, and they do good reporting too. Our regular pro bono contributors produce a good mix of facts and opinion, which we deeply appreciate. Arts critics of all kinds are always welcome.

Our hereditary format requires occasional purges, which we call putting out “new issues” and have tried to do on Fridays. But access to past issues is easy due to our powerful Google-based archive search and the “Previous Issue” button on the home page. There’s no technical reason that new issues have to be always Fridays, or even weekly.

As an experiment, starting today I’m just going to leave current material up until I get tired of it. I'm going to tinker with the limits of the format and see if it can be improved or at least better used. Let me know what you think.

Have yourself some happy holidays, whichever ones you enjoy. More fun, less fuss, might be a good plan.

And if you'd like me to send you links when new pieces are posted, just write to subscribe@berkeleydailyplanet.com to get on the list.