The real truth about how we work

At a party not long ago, I met a woman who, after hearing my name, said, "I want to get involved with the Observer."

"That would be great," I replied.

"There are all sorts of things that go on here that people ought to know," she said, waving her arms, "and I’m not afraid to say any of it."

"You should share it," I said. "Do you know how to put an article into our system?" (For the record, go to and click on the "Member Center" link at the left. The rest is self-explanatory.)

She looked at me with wide eyes. "I don’t want to work through the Internet. I want to get involved. I want to be at the meetings where stuff gets done."

"There aren’t any meetings," I answered. "The newspaper and website are the discussion. People get involved by contributing their ideas for publication, and we do that via the Internet. We essentially do everything over the Internet."

She moved closer and became more animated. She was getting worked up. I now assumed, rightly or wrongly, that she had an agenda for the community but lacked the will or skill to do anything with it. So she was seeking an invitation to some magical inner sanctum where others might fall in love with her ideas and convert them into action.

There would be no such invitation; that inner sanctum doesn’t exist. The Observer’s editorial committee, a group of volunteer journalists and graphic designers, met only once in 2010—and discussed grammar, photo quality and story length. The board of FutureHeights, which owns the Heights Observer, discusses advertising sales and printing costs. Everything else happens right before your eyes; articles printed in each issue come together without any planning.

This is not what my new acquaintance wanted to hear. "The Internet can’t solve every problem. This is a community and people need to talk face to face," she said.

"You got me there," I replied. "You’re right. But here’s the truth: We’re all volunteers. We have jobs and we work on the Observer part-time. Via the Internet. That’s how it works. And even if I did have a meeting to invite you to," I said, "nothing would happen. The Observer is written by people who don’t wait for someone else to pick up their cause."

To express your opinion privately, e-mail Bob Rosenbaum at To express your opinion as a letter to the editor, register at the Heights Observer Member Center ( and click on "Submit New Story" to contribute your letter.

Bob Rosenbaum, chairman of the Observer's editorial advisory committee and a FutureHeights board member, writes this column to provide transparency and understanding about the newspaper.


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Volume 4, Issue 2, Posted 11:24 AM, 01.17.2011