Paper or Plastic? No. Electronic!
The HERALD announces its move to the Internet. Paper copies discontinued. Big, better, brighter—and surely more frequent—issues are promised
By Barry Hillenbrand (Debre Marcos 63–65)
After printing 36 issues spanning a period more than 20 years, THE HERALD, our informative but quirky newsletter, is now electronic. Gone is the paper version of THE HERALD printed on its distinctive beige paper. In its place is this new electronic version of THE HERALD that will be available here on the Internet at EandEHerald.com.
I can hear some of you say: Why Change? Paper was so satisfying
A number of very compelling reasons convinced the Board of Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs
to unanimously approve this move. At the time of the last issue of the HERALD we offered readers the opportunity to download the issue as a pdf file, and forego receiving the paper version. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of the pdf version. The paper edition was abandoned by most readers in a mouse-click. Less than one per cent of our readers wrote us (using, ironically, email) to say they wanted to continue with the paper edition. Emailed Margaret Bertucco, “I so enjoy the last remnants of the 20th Century and look forward to holding a paper copy of the newsletter.”
In my heart I cannot disagree with Margaret. I love reading paper publications. I read three newspapers a day. I love the feel of them. I love non-Kindle books. I spent a 34-year career writing for a magazine, and in the years I have been editing the HERALD I found great satisfaction fiddling with the type fonts and page layouts and seeing the finished produce all neatly bound.
But it is also true that most of us these days get increasingly more of our information delivered to us over the Internet directly onto our computers. It may not be as comfortable reading long articles on the screen as it is on paper, but we are all gradually adjusting. Some of us devise work-around strategies. One HERALD reader told us that if a HERALD article in the pdf version was too long to comfortably read on screen, he printed it out and read it sitting in his chair.
Another reason we are switching to electronic delivery is that producing a 56-page edition of THE HERALD was enormously time-consuming and costly. Under the stewardship of Marian Beil, who started THE HERALD as a simple newsletter before an E&E RPCVs reunion, THE HERALD has grown into a fairly big production running up to 56 pages. It takes me two or three weeks of steady work to write and edit an issue. Marian then spends another week or two laying the issue out and preparing it for the printer. It costs more $1,000 to print the issue and send it out by first class mail.
And frankly I was finding it harder and harder to fit the blocks of time necessary to do the issue into my retirement life. The old journalistic vigor is depleted. Regrettably the time between the appearance of each issue has grown longer and longer. I am sure you found that the news in the printed issue was often stale by the time it arrived in your mailbox.
So going electronic has lots of attractions: saving money, saving trees, saving time.
What will the new electronic Herald be like?
In a word: better. With this new format, articles will be posted online much more frequently and will contain fresher news. The publication of new articles will be announced via email to those who support the efforts of E&E RPCVs by paying the modest annual fee (we will get to the dreaded money issue further down!).
Marian says the HERALD is the glue that holds our group together. It’s the way we learn about group activities: about reunions, special projects, the Legacy fund. And it keeps us up to date with developments in Peace Corps and news from Ethiopia and Eritrea. The new electronic HERALD will also keep us informed on the big 50th Anniversary of Peace Corps scheduled for September 2011.
You will be getting the same old familiar sections, delivered in easily digested segments every few weeks: Sports, News of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Reunions, news of Friends, updates on the Legacy projects, Travel stories from RPCVs who make return visits to Ethiopia or Eritrea, reviews of books and films about Ethiopia and Eritrea, News of the PCVs now serving in Ethiopia. But there will be more: we can publish color pictures. We can provide links to other sites which will offer more detail for those who want to explore a topic beyond what we publish. In the print edition we had to keep articles short and Internet links were difficult to use, now articles can run a bit longer. And we can publish more articles because we are not limited to a 48-page paper format.
To do all this, we hope you can help us
First, we need people to get current with their E&E RPCVs fees. In the past we know that this was a difficult task because of the irregularity — and infrequency — of the appearance of the HERALD. Nobody could remember the last time they paid up. But now that we are online, THE HERALD will be more frequent and more regular. Online publishing is cheaper than the paper method, but it is not free. So the annual fee to defray costs for THE HERALD and the other services we provide to the RPCVs has been lower to $10 a year or $25 for three years. Your fee will also help finance the work of organizing E&E RPCVs’ plans for the 50th Anniversary celebration of Peace Corps. So please send that to Marian at
492 Staten Ave #1003
Oakland CA 94610
Secondly, we need you to submit writing, pictures, ideas to THE HERALD. It gets a little lonely out here producing THE HERALD. We need to hear from you. I thank the few faithful writers who have regularly sent stories and reviews to the old print HERALD. I hope they continue to help us. But we need new writers and new contributors. We need stories about your Ethiopia-, Eritrea-related activities. About visits back to Africa, about work with groups in your area, news of old friends and reunions. The writing need not be formal. Think of it as sending an email to a bunch of old Peace Corps friends, which is, of course, what we all are. Send us some favorite picture you’ve recently had converted to digital from those dusty old slides.
Please send all submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will eagerly post submissions, as long as they relate to Ethiopia, Eritrea and our Peace Corps service there. News of reunions–big and small–is especially welcome.
So thank you for your patience. I will miss the old paper edition of THE HERALD but I am eagerly looking forward to a more active electronic HERALD.
Barry Hillenbrand, editor