Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From the Narrator's Desk

OK, I am about to engage in my least favorite task, but as the rent's always goin' on, the bills must be paid and I haven't made any requests in some time -- i.e. since before the readership doubled -- I need to put out a pitch for your assistance and remind our newer readers as to how this shop keeps running.

Fret not -- this'll be short and sweet. I hope.

For the curious, it's been quite a blockbuster year to this point in terms of visits. January's viewership was on a 50% increase from December (60K v. 40K, respectively), and February's on track to sustain, if not exceed, that growth rate. Whereas 2,000 unique visits a day was a high-watermark a month ago, that's already been well-surpassed today and it's only a bit after noon....

I'm still trying to figure out the how and why of it all, but know that I'm exceedingly grateful for it and all the kindnesses so many of you have shown to me. Pray that I may be worthy of it one day.

However, given the increasing visibility of Whispers and the trust so many of you have come to place in it, the simple reality for its author is that a bigger audience seeks out a greater variety of things to meet its interests. And when you're a shop of one, as I am (armed with nothing more than a phone, an internet connection -- and a good book of contacts), it is no mean task.

So in light of that, I've tried my best to increase and diversify its output as humanly possible and, aside from my print commitments (which are glamourous, surely, but pay nowhere near as much as you'd think), the lion's share of my time and effort goes into sourcing, scoping out and compiling all of this. (And, contrary to popular speculation, I am an insane perfectionist. Like Piero Marini. But he's not insane. And a lot more serene.) An 18-hour workday isn't the exception here, but the rule -- what you see on these pages is but the public work-product of a lot of phone calls, research and correspondence which rarely give me a dull moment, but also take up a lot of energy.

And for all that, this outlet survives solely by means of the generosity of its readers.

I've been advised several times to accept advertising, and have repeatedly refused, as that could create conflicts and compromise my journalistic principles.

Likewise, I've been advised several times to turn this outlet into a subscribers-only forum so as to allow a steady stream of remuneration. But I'm extremely adverse about that, as I know a goodly number of our most enthusiastic and interested readers are college students or just starting families, and I'm not keen to saddle anyone in those stages of the journey with a mandatory fee -- I've been there and, to an extent, I'm still there. Not to mention my firm belief in keeping all this in open forum, so anyone with a curiosity can just roll in at any time and brush up. As with the church, I really believe that these pages which cover its life and activity must be free and open, where all are welcome, always.

Bottom line, however, is that I'm well aware that this is, by and large, a high-demographic audience, and a particularly committed one given the time and attention it is able to muster in order to pay attention to the daily box-scores of Vatican inside baseball. So I know a lot of you -- and there are a lot of you -- are in a position to lend a hand.

Again, I really hate doing this. In an ideal world, I wouldn't need to impinge on anyone's goodness, and I'm not a money man by any stretch. (Come to think about it, that could be Cardinal McCarrick's retirement job: handling my fundraising... It'd sure keep him busy, but he likes that -- and I'd never have to worry about a thing again, God love 'im.) The thing is, though, I know this work is unique as most other blogs just repeat and report news, but this one breaks it, translates it, analyzes it, etc., and all with the best combination of speed and accuracy I can summon up.

You all should be seeing some very exciting things on these pages over the next few weeks. Can't reveal details right now, but just trust me.

Per usual, I've written too much. If you're able to pitch in and help keep all this running, you can find the PayPal donation bar on the right side of the page, beneath the archives. All thanks in advance for whatever you all can do.

And, of course, as always, feel free to drop a line whenever and say hey, or send feedback, whatever.... As many of you have come to discover, that interaction is what I've come to love the most.

Again, many thanks.