Hello, This is a ZNet Update. You can add or remove addresses at the ZNet top page -- www.zmag.org/weluser.htm which, as always, is undergoing continuous additions. Please visit soon.
A few days ago we sent our 150,000 ZNet Update Recipients a multi-author letter from the Z Staff plus Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Vandana Shiva, Susan George, Tariq Ali, Katherine Ainger, Dennis Brutus, Cunthia Peters, Sonali Kolhatkar, and Howard Zinn (which is still available at http://www.zmag.org/zdailyletter.htm) announcing a new idea - Z Daily - and asking you to please take a policy poll. A few thousand of you have already taken the poll, and we thank you very much. But we need a great many more to take the poll as well, and so we fervently urge you to do so if you haven't already. You can access the full Z Daily proposal and the policy poll anytime from ZNet's top page at http://www.zmag.org. Our incoming email reveals that collectively you have many questions about Z Daily. To reduce confusion here we offer (your) Questions and (our) Answers to quickly clarify Z Daily's purpose, content, cost, labor, and methods -- as well as why we want to do Z Daily and why we need to hear your reactions to it. We hope you will read through it. Thank you very much... Michael Albert ==== Q & A About Z Daily 1. What exactly would Z Daily include? Z Daily would include up to 20 new articles each weekday, and on weekends some reviews, interviews, debates, and personal and organizational profiles. There would also be forums for discussions among users and writers, plus various additional facilities and services like policy and politics polls, job search facilities, and audio files for listening. Z Daily would also include access to Z Magazine Online, as part of the package. Z Daily Sustainers could opt for email delivery of preferred daily essays, or might instead decide to receive emails which contain only a descriptive clickable list of offerings, or might just want to access the online displays of the essays. Sustainers could choose to get as few as one pre-selected essay a day (which would be the default), or as many as all of them. Sustainers could easily opt for material by topic or author, or even by style. Z Daily would also funnel substantial funds to an international community of writer/activists and provide a pool of material for free reprint by local school and community papers and magazines around the world. 2. Would Z Daily replace ZNet so there would no longer be a public site? I don't want to see that happen. ZNet would remain, just as now, a free and public site. Not only would Z Daily not replace ZNet, Z Daily would assist ZNet via strengthening our ties to writers and activists and providing essential revenues, just as the Sustainer Program does now, only more so. 3. Why does the Z Staff want to do Z Daily? Won't it mean much more work. Can you handle that? We want to do Z Daily in order to help build infrastructure for producing and sustaining left mass media, including benefiting and enlarging the international community of radical writers. We want to do Z Daily to support and enlarge existing alternative media, including enlarging support for all Z operations. We want to do Z Daily to distribute new essays in areas of interest and by authors who we appreciate. And we want to do Z Daily to facilitate wider discussion of the possible agendas we might share. Yes, to undertake Z Daily we would have to expand our staff, to carry the extra workload/ Indeed, that's one of the reasons why we must urge you to reply to our poll, so we can know whether desires for Z Daily warrant this choice. 4. But don't we have too much information already? And don't left writers write enough, and get paid enough as is? Almost anywhere you may live, if you pick up your local newspaper for today and count the number of articles, you will find many more than we are proposing to prepare and disseminate daily. For example, in the New York Times today, Friday, there are about six times as many. And there are thousands of such points of origination of mainstream daily articles, not to mention other venues of mainstream media. We are talking about undertaking an international project to add 20 essays of highly insightful and relevant analysis, news, vision, and strategy to the total pool of critical resources available. This is not too much new material. Indeed, it is only a modest though desirable step toward having barely enough. 5. But why should I want to add more information to the huge amount I already get? I can't keep up as it is. And what if I don't have time to select what I want, but would rather just receive good material automatically and without hassle? And, for that matter, why should I want to support generating more information than I will myself use? The default for Z Daily will be that if you make no selection, you will receive one pre-selected timely essay per night. However, even for people with a tremendously daunting schedule, it will be easy to make more tailored selections. You will just click a box or two. There is no reason to reject a system because it offers too much or too diverse a selection - unless it imposes that selection or lots of time pressure on you. And Z Daily won't do that. Of course very few people will want to receive 20 articles a day by email. The lower number of articles that you want, however, won't be the same as the lower number of articles that the next person wants. Providing a large number of articles overall, means everyone can get their interests and needs better met. And those who actually want more delivered, can have it. The poll so far, by the way, suggests that the average number of essays users will opt for will be around four. 6. What if I only want to be sent an email message that has a list of the new articles, with some description of each and a web link for each to click on if I so desire? Will that be offered? Yes. You will be able to opt for a descriptive linked list by email either instead of or in addition to other email. You will also be able to opt for weekly delivery, say every Sunday night. Or you could only access articles online, if you wish. In short, you will have complete flexibility in these matters, and changing your preferences will be easy and require only a couple of minutes. 7. How have writers reacted? Our writers want to see Z Daily come into existence for the same movement and alternative media building reasons we do. And they also look forward to expanded outreach, and to sensible payment that can sustain them so they have more time for political involvement. They welcome politically effective reprinting around the world. They want to build consciousness, connections, and movement. Indeed, preliminary queries to writers - pending more poll results -- have indicated a widespread desire to write more often, with eight times a month being the maximum that we are suggesting. 8. I'm skeptical about polls. Will my taking your poll really help? We need people to take the poll so that we can find out whether there is sufficient interest in Z Daily to pursue the idea. We also need to know what people might donate for the service. Indeed, without your feedback, we can't hire new staff or develop technical facilities. We can't sign up the many writers needed. So we are urging you to register your responses as a necessary and essential guide to our choices. 9. What does it mean to say that you are seeking Sustainer donations? Isn't the donation just a fee for Z Daily? No. Our current sustainer program has a few thousand people donating varied amounts each month, quarter, half-year, or year. These donations pay for the current sustainer essays, forums, etc. But they also pay for ZNet itself, thereby financing ZNet's free availability to 300,000 people a week. And the Sustainer donations also help support Z Magazine and the Z summer school as well. Z Daily Sustainers will be a donor program. It will generate revenues that support all of Z's operations. Z Daily will be a premium we offer to show our appreciation for your donor support. 10. In the poll you ask what level of financial support I would give as a donation, assuming I would like to see Z Daily come into existence. I understand I am not now committing to anything, but only indicating what I would do pending more positive replies by others, but even though I would like to see Z Daily happen, why should I want to offer money? Why shouldn't Z Daily be free? We would love to provide Z Daily free. But people can't change their lives to write much more than they now do without being freed from other time consuming paying pursuits by receiving income for their efforts. Software for delivery can't be built and maintained, and new staff can't work full time. Nor can more bandwidth and other facilities be had, for free. This goes for ZNet, too. People think ZNet is free because they use it without paying anything. Yes, ZNet is free for them, in that sense, but of course there are many costs associated with ZNet and there will be for Z Daily as well, and we need revenues to pay these costs. There are no foundation grants to do it. There are no huge donors to do it. So our users who donate to the current Sustainer Program provide the income to pay the costs. If no one donated to that program, if everyone felt like it should all be free, there would be no ZNet...and probably no Z, for that matter. We have 150,000 Free Update recipients - and you are all getting this Question and Answer piece by email. We have about 250,000 - 300,000 people a week who use ZNet in typical times, and four or five times that number of people who use it in urgent and emergency times. A huge section of all these people routinely lay out a few dollars for a slice of pizza and up to $10 in many countries for a whole pizza. Many people pay $20 a month and even more to mainstream newspaper providers and periodicals, depending on the country, each month. In all honesty, we think maybe a good poll question would be - how come so many progressives and leftists think that shelling out comparable sums as the price of a pizza, or the price that they routinely pay to mainstream media outlets - to support alternative media that they respect and appreciate and that they use and even find to be a lifeline that they hope others will use and benefit from as well...is somehow unwarranted? If Z Daily appeals to you, shouldn't you want to donate toward its existence and maintenance? And the same goes for ZNet, for that matter, and also for other progressive media. If not us, then why not support some other ventures, or better, quite a few of them, is our response. Of course some people simply cannot afford a donation, which is all the more reason for those who can afford to donate to consider doing so. And of course some people who can donate will choose to place those funds elsewhere. That's fair enough, too. But those are reasons not to donate to a specific left media venture. They are not reasons to believe that paying to support progressive and left media is wrong. And in any case, the poll is for those who favor Z Daily but also for those who don't favor it. And it is for those who would donate but also for those who can't and also those who could but won't. This is the kind of information we need to hear. Please take the poll. 11. How is Z going to decide what to do about Z Daily? Right now we have somewhat over 4,000 replies. If this was a random sample of the update recipients we could extrapolate that out of that 150,000 person community roughly 130,000 people support the idea and would donate about $700,000 a month toward its pursuit and for Z operations more broadly. Wouldn't that be nice! But of course we can't assume anything like that. The 4,000 respondents are not a random selection. In fact, a different way of viewing the situation would be to say that our current respondents are the totality of people sufficiently interested to even reply to a poll, so that the total level of support we can expect would be only marginally more. The truth is somewhere in between, but we don't know where, and we need many more replies to have some confidence about the matter. Once we have those replies, we can look at the evolving picture and see what support there is for this media enlargement, and pursue what's possible. So, as the first step...if you haven't already done so, please take the poll. ===================================This message has been brought to you by ZNet (http://www.zmag.org). Visit our site for subscription options.