Website: Partial Observers Offer Partial Observations

Post a Comment » Written on September 23rd, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (September 23, 2008) – In 2000, Covenanter Mark Johnson was reading the popular online magazine and decided to recruit friends to produce something similar.

“I realized, as a professional web developer, that I could easily create a web magazine and recruit some talented friends to write for it,” says Johnson, who also is a 1990 graduate of North Park University. James Leroy Wilson, one of the friends who has become a regular writer, immediately came up with the Partial Observer name.

“Three weeks later, we were online,” Johnson says. “The outcome of the presidential election was inconclusive, and there was plenty to write about.”

Eight years later, the Partial Observer, continues to publish poetry, culture critique, humor, political commentary, and now books.

The main writers for the site include four Evangelical Covenant Church pastors: Jonathan Wilson, pastor of Elgin Covenant Church in Elgin, Illinois; Everett L. Wilson, pastor of Prairie Lake Covenant Church in Chetek, Wisconsin; Richard Moore, pastor of Sloan Covenant Church in Sloan, Iowa; and Greg Asimakoupoulos, pastor of Mercer Island Covenant Church, in Mercer Island, Washington.

“These are partial observers bringing only partial observations.”

“What makes it somewhat unique is that, while it celebrates individual bias, it takes no editorial stance,” says Johnson. “As an equal opportunity publisher, we are just as inclined to accept a liberal article as a conservative one, or anything in between, so long as it is well-written and reasoned by professional and amateur writers alike. If we have any agenda at all, it is to encourage people to hear out someone with whom you might disagree.”

“The perspective is in the ingenious title of the site,” Jonathan Wilson says. “These are partial observers bringing only partial observations.”

Asimakoupoulos contributes poetry he likens to “political cartoons comprised of word pictures.” Unlike many columnists, he writes from a point of view that might be different from his own. “What I write about does not always communicate my own personal opinion. I attempt to give voice to what people are feeling in light of what is going on around them.”

The collection of writers extends beyond the Covenant. “Since the site started with a group of North Park graduates, it’s not surprising that many of our writers are Covenanters, but it is by no means a Covenant site in any official or unofficial way,” Johnson says.

“There has always been an open invitation to the public for article submissions,” Johnson adds. “Some of our most popular articles have come from complete strangers to me. Our first classical music columnist, for example, found himself becoming a frequent guest on New York City public radio.”

Four authors have published books that are available at the site. Everett Wilson authored the novel Real Things, which includes an invented denomination of Scandinavian piety called the “Conference Lutherans.” Jonathan draws on his “Dear Jon” marriage advice columns for Dear Jon Letters: Tips for Dating and Mating. Asimakoupoulos has published a collection of his poems, Rhymes and Reasons. The most recent book is James Leroy Wilson’s Ron Paul is a Nut (and so am I).

Johnson says they are able to keep costs down because they keep little inventory. Instead the books are printed on demand as each is ordered.

None of the writers expect to make money from the site. “It has been a labor of love from the start, with no expectation of earning money,” Johnson says. “We’ve resisted the temptation to clutter the site with advertisements.”

The lack of revenue means there is no marketing budget for the site. “Word-of-mouth has been our only means of attracting an audience,” Johnson says. “Only with the introduction of our line of books have I finally been able to compensate our regular writers, albeit modestly, for their contributions.”

That has not stopped anyone from writing. The site is updated at least weekly.

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