September 16, 2008

Videos: Ben Goldhirsch, multi-gajillionaire trustafarian, decides to do Good with his money.

As elephant’s last issue comes out (we’re putting 100% into our web site [please subscribe to our weekly enewsletter if you want to support!], and will continue our talk show/ecofashion parties), I look with wistful gaze at the few independent magazines in the US not funded by trustafarians or multi-kajillionaires—is it possible, in this day and age, to start a magazine, build it up, and see it reach national relevance if you don’t have deep pockets or backseat investors? I tried my darnedest for six llooonnllnoonlnlong years—we got national distribution but have, say, two years more to go before being GOOD, Yoga Journal or DWELL-sized

Given our readers’ support, little elephant would likely have succeeded if I hadn’t hit a wall, burn-out-wise, and made two errors of judgement in the last six months—you can’t afford to make two mistakes in a row when you’re independent and broke. You got no insulation from reality.

But, then, I consider the millions (literally?) of blogs sprouting up, and I think this is a good, new age for the battered but noble Fourth Estate. It’s never been cheaper, easier, to get the word out from the grassroots to the mainstream.

But then I think of the great newspapers, and their investigative reporting, and I think of all the papers closing their foreign bureaus—how many blogs sent reporters to Alaska to look into Palin’s past when we find ourselves with a trouble, unknown candidate thrust upon the national scene with only seven weeks to go? It’s the elbow grease that may go missing…new blogs are echo chambers, no matter how witty or intelligent or well-written. Original reporting is endangered (see Bill Moyers’ recent special on this subject on PBS). 

I leave you with a few personally-heartening videos with Ben Goldhirsch, founder of GOOD magazine, one of my favorite magazines on the shelves today:

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