My kingdom, AEthelmearc, is -- not for the first time -- having trouble finding somebody to fill the required office of Chronicler (newsletter editor). Newsletters are published online, as PDFs, with the same schedule as their print predecessors. Because they don't contain timely information and reading them is a hassle (PDF, plus behind a paywall/subscription-wall), almost nobody reads them. Because nobody reads them, people aren't willing to spend time writing articles for them, so they just contain stuff that's already posted elsewhere (like event announcements). Recently our chronicler posted an issue consisting mostly of blank pages as a test; the only person who said anything was the corporate boss.
This came up on our mailing list because the current chronicler is looking for a replacement. I'm just going to paste here what I wrote there.
I was a kingdom chronicler for four years, back in the days when newsletters were on paper. I found it a satisfying job and was glad to be able to push the limits a little, publishing articles in addition to announcements (and an annual A&S issue). The bulk of the membership price difference between associate members (no newsletter) and sustaining members (newsletter) went to the chroniclers for printing and postage.
Several years back the SCA moved to electronic publishing and phased out the paper newsletters. (Basically, they would fulfill existing subscriptions only.) The chroniclers no longer got a stipend because there was nothing to print and mail. The SCA didn't at the time change its pricing structure, though, so chroniclers were donating their labor for the SCA to resell at nearly 100% profit. That feels like an abuse of volunteer labor to me, but some people were still willing to do it.
Now we are in the situation where nobody reads the newsletters but the SCA still requires chroniclers. This, to me, is an even bigger abuse of volunteer labor. The SCA runs on the dedication of its volunteers, and to take that labor for no good purpose, when those same people could instead donate their labor to something productive, is wasteful and, dare I say, unchivalrous. We should be lobbying for the removal of the requirement. There is no benefit to a newsletter compilation that can never be as up to date as the kingdom web site and that has no readers, and thus no audience for articles and art.
Meanwhile, our kingdom is rich in technically-minded folks. Surely somebody can write a Perl script or something to collect the relevant contents from the kingdom web site and spit out a PDF for Milpitas once a month? Then nobody has to be stuck with the soul-sucking task of spending hours every month producing something that nobody cares about, and the office can be filled by anybody who's willing to warm the seat.
Any volunteers to automate this job until it can be properly ended?