NOTICE: Print edition of September 2009 issue of Substance is in the mail. Substance to continue in print and on the Web.

After a massive four-month-long overhaul, Substance is back both in print and on the Web. The 48 page September print edition is now in the mail to all Substance print subscribers (mailed at Chicago's main post office September 14, 2009). We're asking in advance that our regular readers forgive the problems that arose in the transition. A letter is going out to all subscribers this month, outlining the changes we've made and the value we're adding to their subscriptions. During those four months of transition, the Substance staff proved we could manage a daily news site (this is not a blog, but news and analysis) and provide a regular monthly print newspaper to our readers. Learning how to do those things was an interesting experience for all of us, from our most veteran reporters and editors to the newest people now reporting for Substance.

Unique among news services, Substance proudly proclaims — we are educators reporting regularly on education.

From this point on, there are a few additional things our readers should know.

The full content of the print editions, now and in the future, will not be published at until one week after the print edition is mailed to all paid subscribers. Our print subscribers will always be receiving original content before anyone has that same information on the Web.

At the same time, we anticipate updating daily, on a regular cycle. New content (news, analysis, photos and other graphics) from Chicago and elsewhere will be posted at on a daily basis, for the most part.

This is an ambitious agenda for an operation that has always been on one of the smallest budgets anyone can imagine. Why?

First, there is a need to news reporting and analysis that can break through the corporate media smokescreen about public education and the lies told on behalf of corporate "school reform."

Second, our traditional readers have asked us to do this.

The Substance staff considered all of the possible options during this transition period. This was especially challenging because so many of our colleagues in the news business — and in critical reporting on education — are trying to skimp. Many have tried moving all of their operations to the Web and abandoning print. We could not do that. Our readers are why. Over a two month period in early 2009, we surveyed all of our subscribers (and many of our other readers). We received returns on that survey, which was done on paper by mail, from more than 20 percent of subscribers (a huge percentage return on such a survey). Our subscribers — our key and most loyal readers — told us how to make improvements in the print edition, and they asked that we continue publishing in print while we expanded on the Web.

We are now in the final stages of the transition to do both.

During the transition period, we are also ending our long relationship (more than 20 years) with the Adobe "PageMaker" software. With the publication of the September 2009 Substance, we have begun the transition to PageMaker's descendant, Adobe InDesign. Substance just about grew up with PageMaker, with the beginnings of what was once called "desktop publishing," and with the revolutions brought about by laser print technology. We were proud to be using (and teaching in public school classrooms) PageMaker in the late 1980s, long before most. We continued to be able to utilize PageMaker through the 1990s. By the 21st Century, there were other options, and by 2009, PageMaker had run out of its cycle.

So for page layout, Substance has made the transition to Adobe InDesign, and it has not been an easy one.

As readers of our print edition will see, that transition has been perilous. While we are confident that within two more issues (by November 2009 in print) we will have stabilized all of the aspects of print again, the preparation and publication of the September 2009 Substance was an adventure the likes of which we had not experienced since the earliest days of "desktop publishing". We apologize to our subscribers both for the delay between issues (that has now ended) and for some of the glitches that are evident in the print edition.

But the "look" of Substance, no matter how high tech the processes we use, has always been secondary to the content. We promise to continue and expand accurate, timely, and often unprecedented reporting and analysis about matters pertaining to public education in the face of the lies of corporate "school reform" both in Chicago and across the USA.

We are confident that the changes we are in the process of completing will serve all of our readers and subscribers best. These changes will enable Substance to continue into this new century with the kind of information our readers want, need, and expect.

Our Web presence, which we began to clock on January 1, 2009, is taking us into a new world of communications that we cannot begin to appreciate at this time.

We're also trying to understand some numbers that come with a Web presence.

As of this morning, has had 1,366,592 "hits" since we began our tabulation period (the calendar year) on January 1, 2009. This is much more than we expected, We don't know what it means yet, but we are glad that so many people are stopping by this site.

Thanks to all of you,

George N. Schmidt,

Editor, Substance

September 14, 2009


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