The Restorative Power of Music Related Letters
Editor: After the events in New York of September 11, we Europeans are all with you. But please, be aware that terrorism is not Islam. Afghanistan is already a country destroyed by 20 years of war, where live innocent people like you and us.—Name withheld by request, France
Editor: Please receive my deepest sympathy for all of your people involved in the terrorist attack on September 11. It is unbelievable and tragic. We are not only friends in same hobby, we are also friends in our passion for civilized and modern life. Any kind of terrorist act is not part of our lifestyle or thinking. One more time, my emotions are with you.—Jasmin, Croatia, email@example.com
These were but two of the many e-mails I received in the dark days following September 11. Stereophile's offices are a mile or so north of what was once the World Trade Center; I am thankful that no one connected with the magazine was hurt. My thanks to all who wrote.—JA
The power of music
Editor: The October Stereophile arrived in the nick of time. I had reached the point of saturation/panic/depression over the events of September 11, helped along by the constant drone of "terrorism experts" with their long lists of dire predictions. I finally came to my senses, snapped off the television, and made for the living room with your magazine in one hand and John Coltrane's Ballads in the other. It was like a two-week vacation.
The power of music to buoy our spirits, separate us from our troubles, and build community, in celebration or grief, should never be underestimated. The sound of a Coltrane solo, a Beethoven concerto, or a Robert Johnson blues is a reminder that humanity is capable of so much more than terror and destruction. These days, most of us need reminding.
To all of you who labor to produce Stereophile each month, thank you for giving those of us who draw strength from music a venue in which to learn, laugh, argue, and share some of the things that make an unsteady world turn a little bit truer.—Matt Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org
Figure it out
Editor: Let me see if I can parse the penultimate paragraph of John Atkinson's September "As We See It":
Advertising pages are down because advertising in Stereophile doesn't work well enough to justify the cost of the pages, and the magazine can't figure out how to make it work better. Because advertising is down, editorial is also down, and you're not creative enough to come up with ways to use the limited editorial space. You're unable to review more products and feature more interesting viewpoints because you're stuck in your old format. And finally, the whole two-channel stereo thing is fading, and there's nothing really interesting to write about anyway.
I think that the answer is not a rebounding economy or a new owner. It's a radical rethinking of the information you present and the way you present it. There's tons of interesting stuff to write about—probably more now than in the history of the field. The challenge is to get creative about how you do so. And while you're at it, figure out how to help your advertisers get more for their money.
Sigh.—Seth Godin, email@example.com