Our readers write: whither World War 4 Report?

In the pitch for World War 4 Report‘s Winter Fund Drive last month, we wrote: “We hate to admit that we are at an existential crisis. We think that it is bad form to hold out our demise as a threat to get readers to donate. But after five years, World War 4 Report is starting to look unsustainable. We need to be able to reliably raise $2,000 at least once a year to continue, and our donations have only been decreasing over the past year. We do not understand why… We cling to the democratic ethic that a radical anti-war e-journal should be sustained by its readers… Are we unrealistic? Is it time to call it quits?”

In defense of our existence, we pleaded: “Isn’t there a place for a progressive website that is relentlessly diligent, comprehensive and fact-oriented…? That refuses to cut slack for mass murderers of any ideological stripe? That seeks to loan a voice to anti-militarist movements and indigenous cultures everywhere that the US and its proxies are on the attack—not only those which are in the headlines?” Finally, we appealed: “If you can’t give anything, can you at least write us and tell us what we’re doing wrong?” Our January Exit Poll was: “Should World War 4 Report continue to publish?” Since then, our readers have started to come through for us. Our total now stands at $1,665. We received the following responses to the Exit Poll:

From Tim Murphy, somewhere in the UK:

Perhaps you decline in support [sic] is because more people realise that you are run by crypto zionists [than] who are in denial about the fact?

World War 4 Report replies: Right Tim, we’re crypto-Zionists. Good thinking there. That’s why we run stories like “Gazans breach border wall, challenge sham ‘peace process’,” “Hamas calls for general strike to protest Gaza ‘massacre’,” “Israel abducts Palestinians in West Bank raids,” “Peace Now chief enforces Jordan Valley apartheid?,” “Veteran NYC labor leaders: boycott Israel,” “Israeli military aid to Burmese regime: Jane’s,” “Israeli High Court Returns Palestinian Lands? Don’t Believe the Hype!” Etc. But I guess all that counts for nothing if we think the Iraq war is actually about oil.

From Lorna Salzman in Brooklyn, NY:

Shouldnt there be a place for serious, well founded leftist criticism of Islam and its anti woman, anti civil liberties anti semitic preachings and practices?

World War 4 Report replies: Uh-huh Lorna, we’re dupes of the jihad. Sound reasoning. That’s why we run stories like “End the genocide of women in Iraq,” “Amnesty International protests stoning in Iran,” “Iran: women’s rights activist gets prison and lashes,” “Iran: hundreds of women arrested in ‘bad hijab’ crackdown,” “Iran: women activists attacked,” “Iranian feminist decries ‘political Islam’ in Europe,” “Egypt: controversy over genital mutilation.” Etc. But I guess all that counts for nothing if we think Palestinians have human rights.

From Brian Tokar, Plainfield, VT:

I think the main problem is visibility. WW4’s coverage is consistently more original and in depth than anyone else’s, but it’s not getting out there. People send me stories from all kinds of websites on a regular basis, but I never get WW4 stories except from you. Another one of my favorite sites, NewStandard, went out of operation last year. I only knew of its existence for a few months before it folded, only because a reporter contacted me for a story. Maybe getting stories cross-posted more by friendly sites like Toward Freedom would help? The web is all about webs of linkage, they say…

World War 4 Report replies: Toward Freedom is free to use any of our work with attribution, as is everybody else—even the repugnant ZNet.

From Mark Cathcart, somewhere in the UK:

Bill, you are not doing anything wrong. I guess it’s apathy on my part, I read the reports from time to time, speed read at others… I guess I was just taking “you” for granted, something for which I apologize. I guess there is no point taking “you” for granted now, and then in time of crisis asking “where’s WW4 report?” if you’ve gone bust.

World War 4 Report replies: We deeply appreciate your support, Mark.

From Ormond Otvos, somewhere in cyberspace:

Perhaps a less dense and plodding style, and less agonizing about the sorry state of reporting. And some positive or humorous stories about your circumstances, location, and personalities and how they interact.

People want stories, narrative, connection. Don’t assume we’re aware yet, but tell us what awareness feels like, and its BENEFITS.

I suspect you didn’t know Bill Mandel, of KPFA and HUAC fame. He was the guy in the sunglasses telling the HUAC where they could put their investigation “If you think I am going to cooperate with your committee in any way, you are insane!!” The difference between his writing, which was powerful and narrative and involving and human-centered, and his personal verbal style was interesting…

What I’m getting at is that your stories are like mudslides, overpowering and eventually numbing, leaving the reader with a profound sense of depression rather than activism. Look at DailyKos: ferociously a Democratic election site, but interlarded with diaries about sick people, religion, goofiness. You could do worse. If you want to see the cutting edge of that, hold your nose and proceed to PFF www.politicalfleshfeast.com and note that below that purposely offensive title graphic and deep in the diaries are some really smart people operating where the delicate and PC sensibilities of the overly delicate will not bother them

I’m not recommending you follow their lead. But the “roses in the garbage” concept might trip you out of your gloomy style.

Man cannot live by truth alone. He needs fantasy, community, narrative, play. Homo ludis. Bob Black. Google it.

World War 4 Report replies: Get with the zeitgeist. Yes, we’ve heard this before. We do report positive news—such as the emergence of Iraq’s civil resistance.

From Urko Aiartza, in Spain’s País Vasco:

Dear friends,
I writte you from the Basque Country. I agree completelly with the need of your page and even having not too much i would like to help your project. Keep on struggling to become the voice of those without voice.

A luta continua!!

World War 4 Report replies: Thanks, Urko. It’s responses like this that make all the difference.

From Sandy McCroskey in New York City:

“We hate to admit that we are at an existential crisis”

No, you’re not. No more than you are “deconstructing” the so-called war against terrorism. (But I’ll let that slide.) In philosophy, an “existential crisis” has rather more to do with questioning the meaning of one’s existence and, even more, the existence of meaning itself than with whether one can pragmatically afford to continue a particular enterprise. However, on second thought, I must acknowledge that the philosophical meaning and your own sense may not be entirely unrelated.

World War 4 Report replies: Thank you for that concession, Professor McCroskey. We meant it in precisely that sense. There is no point in writing if we have no readers. We are also “deconstructing,” Derrida’s pretensions notwithstanding: breaking the GWOT down for an intimate examination of its constituent elements so as to attain a greater understanding of its dynamics.

From Kim Alphandary in San Diego:

“Should World War 4 Report continue to publish?”

YES!!!

“We need to be able to reliably raise $2,000 at least once a year to continue …”

Wow. I cannot imagine a better spent 2,000 dollars — monthly reporting from ww4-report. It is really inconceivable to imagine that journalists like yourselves, with the amazing work that you do, cannot raise a mere 2,000 dollars a year. Where is the one person in this world that knows how to raise money, or actually has 2,000 to spare? Heck if I know. An “existential crisis” indeed. For us all, the doors of creativity seem to be shutting bit by bit. As in, if you all cannot make it, who can?

“If you can’t give anything, can you at least write us and tell us what we’re doing wrong?”

As for general advice – be careful of who and how you are critical. The one thing that perhaps has contributed to putting you all out in the cold is — whenever a journalist is critical of the Left or other journalists specifically, this usually has ill effects, in that it pushes much of a potential audience away. You-all have certainly taken some risks doing this.

Suggestions (from someone that does not know how to make money):
1) Solicit publishing possibilities with as many newspapers, journals, etc. that pay or don’t pay for that matter.
2) Start up a journalism school.
3) Speaking Tours.
4) Radio – advertise your site?

GOOD LUCK !!!!

World War 4 Report replies: Thanks much for your encouragement, Kim. But if we were to self-censor our criticisms of the left—or anything else—we would have no raison d’etre. And we publicize World War 4 Report every Tuesday night on the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade on WBAI.

From Jonathan March in St. Louis:

There’s enough existential crisis to go around, with plenty for second servings. Years of butting our heads against the war has left many (including me) in debt and with an accumulation of unmet personal responsibilities. So I can’t answer your question, but I wish you well.

World War 4 Report replies: Thanks, Jonathan. You have given us plenty of support, and we haven’t forgotten it.

From Michael G, somewhere in cyberspace:

I think you should continue to publish. The articles are great. Maybe you should set them up on RSS or something so you get more exposure easier. I’d send more, but I’ve been unemployed for 3 months now. Good luck!

World War 4 Report replies: Michael, every little bit helps. We are grateful for any support.

See our last Exit Poll results.

  1. Further ruminations on emotional bonding responses vs memory.
    From Brian Tokar, Plainfield, VT:

    I think the main problem is visibility. WW4’s coverage is consistently more original and in depth than anyone else’s, but it’s not getting out there. People send me stories from all kinds of websites on a regular basis, but I never get WW4 stories except from you. Another one of my favorite sites, NewStandard, went out of operation last year. I only knew of its existence for a few months before it folded, only because a reporter contacted me for a story. Maybe getting stories cross-posted more by friendly sites like Toward Freedom would help? The web is all about webs of linkage, they say…

    ww4 reports responds:

    World War 4 Report replies: Toward Freedom is free to use any of our work with attribution, as is everybody else—even the repugnant ZNet.

    < <<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Dear Editors:

    That reply above is what’s wrong, in large measure, with your popularity. It’s factual, bare-bones responsive, and a little snotty. It’s Hillaryous, and not in a good way: clear, factual, irrefutable, and bad tempered, curt, and not the tiniest bit personal, warm, self-deprecating or humorous.

    And I say this as a person who reads your stuff, writes similar stuff on Salon, DailyKos, and currently PFF.

    And finds it goes over a hell of a lot better when the abovementioned elements are present.

    You see, DailyKos and PFF have comment rating. Maybe you could somehow develop the same. A little check box set, with as many rating names as you can get. Check out My Left Wing: they have eleven, and they’re quite accurate.

    The idea is to get the reader involved. We all move so fast in this medium, and the rule is: no emotion, no memory of the event. If you want to be remembered, and thus receive largesse (even if you ARE the most important site around, and it’s conceivable, if not recognized) stop people and have them respond. THAT’s what the comment rating boxes do.

    Think about it. You needn’t reply unless it’s funny. I know I’m pissing you off. So? You’re the one asking for advice.

    Ormond Otvos in Richmond, California. I DO buy my way into your consciousness by donating.

    1. Them’s fighting words, Sir!
      “Hillaryous”!? Now that was a low blow, and we reject the implication categorically. Hillary is certainly snotty and bad-tempered, but she is certainly not clear, factual or irrefutable! She is the master of cant and obfuscation, which it is our raison d’etre to resist!

      And while we appreciate your support and your criticism, we really can’t believe you think we are humorless. Our humor may be pitch black, but we are not prigs. We’re with Wavy Gravy: “Demand your right to bring a whoopie-cushion to Auschwitz!”

      Funny?

      1. Programming conversational algorithms
        Thanks for the response.

        The question is not whether you can be humorous, mes freres, but whether it shines through the murk and gloom of the Augean task of shoveling up this stink for the dainty noses of the liberally compartmented.

        Do I sense a wafting tendril of cognitive science, and that bane of Berkeley, George Lakoff? Naah. He isn’t very funny either.

        I don’t mean to foist Bill Maher on you, no no no. Maybe Antonio Damasio, or Steven Pinker. Or even Malcolm Gladwell, of tipping point fame.

        I’ve spent a dozen hours driving the coast of California with Bill Mandell, and it’s wearing, wearing I say!

        My friend Len intersperses his comments with “We’re doomed!” and a cheery Irish smile.

        Of course we are! But let’s decorate the table at the edge of the abyss with doilies and pass around a Volcano bag of happy while we peer into the roiling blackness of the human future, eh?

        Ormond in Reeeechmon…

        And the whoopee cushion in Auschwitx, ja, dat’s funny. Go through that door and clean up. Leave your clothes here.