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Letter from the Editor

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Last week I wrote that another name for "low-information" voters was "dumbasses." I added that I wrote those lines without fear of retribution because "dumbasses don't read this column."

Never let it be said that I don't admit it when I'm wrong.

Not only do dumbasses read this column, so do a lot of very funny smartasses. The responses on memphisflyer.com are much more interesting than my original column.

My favorite: the woman who wrote, "That's CRAP, buddy. I'm a dumbass and I read your column." Beautiful.

Our commenters offer ideas, insults, praise, criticism, inanity, and wisdom. Sometimes all in the same post. Regular commenters, we are advised by the Internet gurus, are a vital part of a healthy website. They are, for want of a better phrase, a self-selected "community."

Our community consists of cranks, intellectuals, crackpots, liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites, Democrats, and Republicans posting opinions about Flyer articles and columns. It's instant feedback, and we love it. We could watch "Rantboy," "Katiedidn't" and "38103" go at it all day ...

A fellow named Kevin Kelly recently wrote an essay called "1,000 True Fans." His thesis is that in this Internet age, all an artist has to do in order to survive is find 1,000 "true fans" — those who are willing to purchase $100 worth of music, concert tickets, or merchandise a year. (A four-piece band would theoretically need 4,000 true fans.)

The old business model for musicians was to try to sell millions of records. The big money was collected by music corporations, and a small cut was given to the artist. Kelly posits that musicians must now cut out the middle man and build their own "true fan" communities through MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, and other social networks.

It's a lot like what's happening in journalism, as the major corporate media companies try to figure how to cut their expenses — and manpower — in the face of declining profits for their newspaper products.

Here at the Flyer, we're lean and mean enough to weather good times and bad. All we need is a nice community of true fans to be happy. So thanks very much to all of you who support us. Some of our best friends are dumbasses.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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