Go grab some coffee and come back to visit with me. I want to explain something that is getting mixed up a bit in the re-telling.
Christine Hall runs one of the most up-and-coming Linux and FOSS websites on the web today. She pretty much runs it all by herself, working into the wee hours, getting the facts of the story right, even if the source is in the EU. The wee hours are the best time to get to reach someone in the EU because of the time differences.
I think that Christine’s drive for getting things right is almost part of her DNA. It’s the way she was raised, it’s the way that she works and it’s the way that made her successful in her career. And she thought she was going to quietly retire on the remains of a small farm in the termite eaten old rent house she calls home and let the world and FOSS spin by the way.
Actually, it turns out that she had no intention of quitting work. She thought she did, but as site after site, story after story appeared as she clicked through the Internet, something began to bother her. I’m talking about the “splinter in your mind” level of bother. She knew she wasn’t getting the full story. She was getting fluff, opinion and gloss, but she wasn’t getting the real news. Reading many of these stories left her with more questions than answers.
Oh well…retirement sucked anyway.
Thus, FOSS Force was born.
As far as I’m concerned, Christine Hall is the real deal. She’s a career journalist who still holds the old values and ways to be important. She’s an old school reporter trying to bring old school journalism into the 21st century. But for FOSS Force to be the quality site she wants it to be, she can’t do it by herself.
So Christine asked me if I would like to work with her. She asked me to supply a couple of articles a week and I jumped at the chance. It wasn’t about the money — it never was about the money. It was a chance to shake hands with her readership and maybe bring along some of mine in the process. The Blog of Helios is still my baby, but I’m saving that for things in, around and about the things we do at Reglue. Sure, there is some spillover from time to time.
But I’m no journalist, which is exactly why she asked me to come aboard. With my schedule, we found it to be just too much of a push getting two stories from me a week. We settled on a Tuesday column. She got a change-of-pace story teller and I got a cool banner ad on FOSS Force. Heck, I don’t even give myself a banner ad on the Blog of Helios.
As most of you know, I eventually get to my point. Thank you for your patience. Here it is: my point.
Christine doesn’t run FOSS Force to make money. She runs it to provide the Linuxphere with a place to come when they want to know the story. The real story…not a series of tease paragraphs you have to click “next” on after every seven line blurb. She isn’t about click counts. She isn’t about the DaniWeb style of ads that block your reading field until you read the crap that’s blocking you from the content you want.
She’s about giving you the facts and the truth. But it’s becoming extremely difficult for her to do it all by herself.
I stopped taking money from Christine a good while back. If she’s not making money, she can’t very well pay me. And a lot of you probably know this by now. I don’t write for the money. Never did, never will. But if come a day she can afford me…then who am I to insult her by refusing. I believe I might oblige her and accept anything she offers. Maybe. In the meantime, I get to work and hang out with one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Larry Cafiero has decades of experience. He is truly a wizard among aprentices when it comes to news reporting and editing, but he doesn’t beat you over the head telling you about it. If you read one Larry Cafiero article, then you know he doesn’t have to.
Christine wants to hire Larry and me on, among others that she’s worked with. She wants to put together a team of good reporters and excellent writers, because she recognizes that you can’t sit on your ass and expect the real story…the truth in its virgin purity to come to you. You need to go get it. Like Larry did at SCALE and LFNW in Bellingham. Like Christine did and will continue to do at All Things Open in Raleigh. Like I did in Cambridge and at Ohio LinuxFest. The things that happen at these events, the real meat of the things that happen at these events, isn’t produced on our computers by The FOSS Fairy while we sleep. They come because we elbow our way up to the podium after the speech to ask our questions — the questions you want answered. They come because we wait outside in the cold or the heat because we know our source is going to exit that door sometime in the next couple of hours.
And we do it because we know that people have faith in us to bring them the news they want and to ask the questions they want answered. We don’t report on “what she was wearing” or who he or she had on his or her arm. To us, it’s about digging to find the answers our readers want. It’s about telling you something that may affect the outcome of an important decision you must make. It’s about real world reporting competing with and often buried by page after page of glossy fluff.
So the bottom line of this whole thing is simple at it’s heart. Our May Pledge Drive isn’t merely a fundraiser…it’s an investment in something rare these days. Christine Hall is asking you to help her make all of this a daily standard at FOSS Force. She wants this site to be a clear example of what real Linux and FOSS news reporting is supposed to be. She needs six grand to jump start this effort. If you give her that, then she’ll take it from there. She’ll give you hard work and integrity, and she’ll show you the spirit of FOSS. In the long run, it’s a pretty good deal.
Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue
I couldn’t agree with you more, Ken. Thanks for all the great writing. My partner and I pledge $20 and I hope I can get others to do the same by sharing stories like those over social media.
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