All news, all the time…

So I’ll ask you a question. If a newsletter is published and only the Uberboss reads it, is it actually a publication? That question is, sadly, not rhetorical. Every quarter, our staff spends somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 man-hours planning, organizing, editing, and publishing the “official” organizational newsletter. Actually, we spend more time than that because we usually end up writing most of the articles ourselves because our “call for contributions” generally goes unanswered… and when someone does answer the call, we generally spend even more time rewriting their bit because it seems possible that English is their third language. Or possibly their fourth. That, however, is a separate rant.

Our usual circulation is about 20 print copies plus an electronic version posted on the organization’s intranet site. Last quarter, the electronic copy was accessed something like 37 times. We have several hundred employees. You can do the math on how well this product is being received. Since the majority of our employees work away from the home office, it doesn’t even have the virtue of being used as birdcage liner for most of them.

The workflow for this product is something like this:

• Complete final draft
• Perform editorial review
• Submit to Uberboss for approval
• Rewrite or change layout at request of Uberboss
• Submit to Uberboss for approval
• Have “editorial board” meeting with Uberboss
• Rewrite or change layout
• Submit to Uberboss for approval
• Wait until Uberboss is out of office
• Publish
• Ignore for 2 months
• Repeat

Given the hours required and the pay rate of those involved, the cost to publish breaks down to something like $12,000 per quarter… or $210.52 per view.
Putting up numbers like that, it’s hard to believe that Uncle Sam is ever short on funds.

Editorial Note: This is part of a continuing series of previously unattributed posts appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

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