As some of the people on the boards will be aware, I lead a secret double life outside these boards as the main editor (oh alright, pretty much only editor) writer and general production person of Freedom newspaper.

For the last two years I've been wrestling with it, much to the frustration of my long-suffering friends, relatives and colleagues. There have been good and bad bits. On the plus side, it has been like a two-year crash course in editorial experience - an incredibly intense course to follow my education in journalism.

On the down side, it has been exhausting, a constant, debilitating grind. Reputedly, no-one bar Libcom's very own John. and Jim has managed to run it for any length of time without either acquiring some sort of mental problem, drug addiction (or in the case of J+J's predecessor, God).

And so it seems to go again. Ahead of the bookfair, I've had a bit of an intervention staged on me by a couple of close friends backed up by vocal support from various others. They are telling me I have to cool it as I'm getting stressed and erratic, and the quality of my work is falling. People have always jabbered at me about burnout, but a couple of recent mistakes I shouldn't have made have left me wondering.

It has been suggested that dropping Freedom would solve the problem. I'm not prepared to do that, as without sounding arrogant I'm not sure the paper would continue to come out, certainly in its current form.

The solution I've come up with is the best I can think of, and basically involves me only working on one issue out of every two. I'm going to put an article about this in the paper, but I'm basically set on it in order to free up breathing space, so I can remain effective in what I do and not simply burn out. as far as I'm concerned the paper remains fortnightly, but I don't.

The outcome is likely to be one of two options.

1 - A replacement or two comes in, and the paper remains fortnightly while a decent induction takes place in how it all works, and then we carry on with me working on it monthly but the paper coming out as normal. This would be the best solution to several problems as it would help bring fresh blood into the paper, give it more voices and a fresh outlook etc, and allow me to raise my game (along with being able to do a couple of my other projects properly).

2 - It simply goes monthly, in which case the way in which it works will have to change so that features, investigations and analysis become more important, with straight news mostly getting killed off bar prisons and the In Briefs maybe.

The good news is that option one is looking like it could actually happen, as one of our existing writers has shown some interest in doing the other edition. I'll be talking to him as soon as possible about sorting through it all so for the moment, next issue looks like it'll be his baby with me helping out and deadlines being as normal. I'll be putting down some more thoughts on this sometime.

Posted By

Rob Ray
Oct 4 2006 11:46


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Oct 4 2006 12:19

yeah saii, that's a real shame.

but you have been burning the candle at both ends for a while, so it's good you wanna take a bit of a break.

Don't know about mental health problems but doing freedom did increase my drink intake...

you've done a fucking good (and quite thankless) job tho saii, you should be proud of yourself mate.

Jacques Roux
Oct 4 2006 13:43

What John. said really. Sometimes I think doing libcom is stressfull, but no where near as much the paper. Its good you realise you shouldnt put too much pressure on yourself with this kind of stuff. And although people arent vocal about it, work like this is appreciated!

Rob Ray
Oct 4 2006 19:15

Ta both, it's nice of you to say so smile. Doubt it'll mean actually cutting back entirely though, just reallocating stuff so thast it's not quite so unremmitting - the main killer was the fact it had to heppen and the deadline was so tough rather than a lack of energy. As it happens, I've already got a couple of projects in mind, includnig doing some more work on (which I found out today is getting 30,000 visits a month, which has got to be good for a regional - it's almost doubled since August for no apparent reason).

Oct 4 2006 22:25

As one of the people who jabbered about burnout, (though I like to think I was more elegant) I reckon an option 1 is a really good idea. Not only does it take the pressure off you, but it seems like a good way to run a paper generally - having two completely competent editors sounds much better than relying on one. It also allows you to pass on your skills and experience.

Since I cut down the amount of regular high pressure stuff i do, I find that I'm much more effective (and happy!) in general. I think there is in general, too much of a culture of burnout, which is I think why so many anarchist activists are young - because the idea of making a small regular contribution to promoting the idea seems pretty alien. So when people get a kid/move house, they drop anarchism completely, throwing away all their experience rather than passing it on.

I'll be interested to hear how it goes!