It's been eight months since we last put out an issue of POINT. We didn't intend to be away so long, but once we had made peace with our decision to take a break we discovered that, well, we liked having a life. Much as we love this rag, it was good to be free from the weight and wear of it. As you might suspect, it's tough being a newspaper like this in a state where the word "liberal" is used as an epithet.
By now, we are used to being the target of right-wing rage. Stacks of the paper are routinely taken from our racks and thrown in the nearest dumpster (we know; we have gone diving to recover them). Our newspaper boxes have been broken, set on fire and stolen outright. And the manager of Capital News in downtown Columbia once called us after two men in suits came in and, without explanation, left with the store's supply of POINTs. Judging by the men's costumes, they were not on our staff. Further reason for suspicion was the state government license tag on their car.
These antics reflect a culture that has grown bitterly partisan, where politics is practiced like blood sport and where the dialogue is controlled by whoever talks the loudest. Not only is it rude, it distorts reality. At POINT, we have tried to round out the public debate. It isn't lucrative work.
POINT is a free publication because we want it to be accessible. But, of course, it is not really free. It is expensive to produce, print and distribute the paper. POINT is part of an educational foundation that depends on readers for financial support, much like ETV. Unlike ETV, POINT does not have a direct link into your home or a staff paid good money to convince you to cough up some of yours. Instead, we depend on readers like you who believe that diversity is strength -- whether you're talking about people or the press.
POINT is committed to continuing to offer an alternative view in South Carolina, but the staff is also working on other grassroots projects. We have decided to change our publishing schedule to accommodate the juggling act. For at least the next year, POINT will come out quarterly instead of monthly. While you won't see us as often, we hope you will find a fatter and stronger POINT when you do.
While we were away, we sent a do-or-die solicitation to POINT's friends and past contributors. We were overwhelmed by the response. Even as the ship looked like it was going down, we received generous donations, many of them coming with notes of thanks and encouragement. To those of you who sent money with absolutely no guarantee of anything at all, this one's for you.