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ze cellar - behind the scenes

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The following thoughts are presented below, and in the following order:

How we came to be, how we decided to start this paper
What it takes to print YOUR article

How we came to be, how we decided to start this paper. 

A group of us, one morning back in early November, 1999, were talking about how to get news here in town.  Yes, there was TV and magazines and there was the (at that time) Mexico City News, but at best, they covered international and national news.   And then there were the Spanish language newspapers, but even the most bi-lingual of us were not completely happy with our lack of understanding of cultural nuances.  And lastly, there was Atencion, but they always seemed to be more interested in making money for the Biblioteca than in providing news to the resident community.  And so we thought how to change this.  Among other ideas, I volunteered to analyze the November 8th Atencion for how much new and local editorial matter they supplied versus how much advertising (of so many different and sometimes subtle types) they contained.   It was more appalling then we guessed prior to the analysis.  The years went on and more and more people complained.  There was El Independiente and San Miguel Chronicles and other publications but their dependence upon advertising always created problems in a town where Atencion was the recognized monopoly and mutually beholden to the real estate industry.  As recently as January 2002, just before a Biblioteca election, and in October, 2002, well after a electoral revolt against an entrenched 6-year administration resulted in a replacement administration, the results of identical analyses were not only similar but worse.  Editors came and editors left, but without a published mission for the paper and without any mandate for the newer editors to fulfill, Atencion became less and less a paper for the residents of this town, and more and more, a paper for the tourists and the advertisers who needed them.

Then, some time in early 2004, the discussion arose about alternatives and we thought that an online web-site, supported by us, the readership itself, might be just what was needed and so we went ahead with this.   We had wondered:

why Atencion never did anything even remotely like local investigative reporting?  Their once a week newspaper reported on things that were "news today" (albeit already out of date) and many times things not even happening IN San Miguel, not  an appropriate use of the little space that they granted to original material.
why Atencion still does not have a published mandate or mission from the Biblioteca board?
why Atencion no longer accepted many articles from residents (obviously aiding them in acquiring free textual material without paid "reporters")?
why each and every Biblioteca administration (in the last 11 years, at least) has had such editorial  turnover problems?
why has income become the major pre-occupation of Atencion?
why is there still no Chinese wall between Atencion's editorial and advertising departments?
why is there no decent and realistic sampling of Atencion's demographics?
why is there no questioning of the many people who DO NOT read Atencion as to "why" they do not read it?
why almost every columnist (except Phil Hamerslough) was selling something?
where have the various columns giving helpful tips for living here gone?
what is the purpose of Atencion?
why, with a presumed membership in the thousands, have only some 200 plus people voted in the recent election?

Not being able to obtain decent answers to any of these questions, we decided to create a new paper that attempted to do what Atencion does not.    Therein lay the birth of this paper.   We do not want to compete with Atencion for advertising, we take none, nor for revenue as we do not charge for our paper, nor for subject matter that addresses the needs of our constituents, the resident expatriate community.   Should they ever return to their original path, we will consider ceding all such territory back to them.

What it takes to print YOUR article

Assuming you have followed ALL of our input requirements, we take your article from your email and copy it and then paste it onto a page that you suggested for it (or that we had to guess at ourselves, after reading it completely - remember one of our conditions is that we publish and we do not edit - so we really don't have the time for reading each article), a page in our web-creating software.  Of course, we also have to review how your email formatting looks on our web-creating software page and make formatting changes if it is otherwise not readable or looks outlandish compared to previous articles on that page.   And then we re-format the title, insert a date, and copy that title to the top of that page and to the table of contents page and also to the Headlines page, being careful to format your new article's title to conform with other articles already on those three locations.  After that, we then run our FTP software which connects with the host's web-site and we upload the entire page that your article was on as well as uploading the entire Headlines and Table of Contents page.   Next we have to run our browsers, both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox to see that the new pages "look" reasonably well on (at least these two most used) browsers.   If everything goes well, each individual article takes about 5 minutes to publish to the final place on our web-site. 

Of course, that is ONLY if you have done everything we asked for.  Too many of you have not.  Too many of you have instead:

sent us an attachment - over and above the virus problem, too many have sent double-spaced and other colored and weirdly constructed MS Word attachments that just can't be used without spending an inordinate amount of time re-formatting.
sent us things that belong in two places, such as partially in "local events" and partially a description of the sponsoring organizations work for the last decade.
sent us very poorly typed, misspelled, grammatically poor, articles that we are forced to "just publish" as is (that is why YOUR name as author/writer must be part of the input).
sent us copies of other people's writings - we generally desire original works unless ultra-pertinent to our readers.
sent us pictures and other graphics embedded in your article - while we can use them, we choose not as they slow down both the uploading and downloading (your part) of the system.
sent us other unexplainable things that just slow down the work - remember that we have no editor and we have agreed to do this community service with no intention of making it a full-time job.

So, since we are all in this together, we refer you, once again, to write to and for us

Objective of this page:  to inform the reader of things that happen behind the scenes of this online paper that we think you would be interested in knowing (and, if not that, that we ourselves want you to know)..


“Underpromise and Overdeliver”

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