Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Netsurfer Digest just may be dying. I only work there - and have worked there for more than 11 years - and I don't want to reveal any proprietary information on the process we use, but I do want to worry in public.

Most of NSD I put together weekly, without regard to timeliness. In the Breaking Surf portion, however, we try to stay on top of the breaking wave of tech, science, and online-relevant news. The publisher handles those assignments and writes half himself. I don't get paid enough to do that.

The problem is that since the end of August, the publisher has slacked off. NSD came out September 1, September 15, and October 2 - not a good record for a putative weekly. I have three issues worth of articles waiting to go out. I've been doing my work, and our writers have submitted everything I've asked of them. And we wait.

Furthermore, I sort of haven't been paid since June - well, there's no "sort of" to that at all. The publisher has lagged in pay before, although not by this much. I trust him, and I consider him a friend even though we now live thousands of miles apart and see each other only every three years or so. Then again, I trust too easily in financial matters (remind me to post about the Strategy First fiasco some day).

The dilemma has come to a head. Every year, I work hard on the NSD Halloween issue. That issue is a repository for all the Web sites I find in the year that are too extreme for the standard NSD. I match the sites to a narrative, and everyone has a good time. But the work for that issue is about three times the work of a standard NSD. The motivation to do it this year escapes me. I should already have the articles out to my stable of scribes, but I keep putting the work off.

If I don't get the editorial surfing and narrative done in the next two days, I might as well drop the curtain on the Halloween issue, and quite possibly on NSD itself. But in that case, I just might have to wave goodbye to five months of back pay.

Especially demoralizing is the fact that not one single reader (and we have thousands upon thousands of subscribers) has written in to ask what the heck is going on. That's as surprising as it is worrying.

I spend about 15 hours a week on NSD. I could easily fill that time with paid research work, but I would miss it. One thing that's kicking around in my head is the concept of a NSD-type blog, in concert with the best of my writers. NSD used to be a free, ad-supported service. Could something like that be again? Even if it starts from point zero?

I hate moving my cheese.

Bonus irony:

If you search for "contributions to society" on Google, this blog is the third entry on the second page of results.


Blogger Elvi said...

You know, the idea of reviving a free NSD-like blog really appeals to me. Most of the distress I've been feeling over the possible demise of NSD has been mourning its passing, not worry over the back pay. I like it.

October 20, 2005 10:25 AM  
Blogger Regan said...

I'm with Elvi if it ends up going that way.

October 28, 2005 8:48 PM  

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