Shortly after shaking hands for the first time, John surprised me with my very own Telly Award in recognition of my recent film about child abuse.
As many of you will know, John put together a brilliant investigative article about Watchtower’s Telly Awards, explaining how they are essentially publicity tools that anyone can pay for – with multiple “winners” of each annual award.
To purchase my award, John only had to call the Telly Awards, ask for a particular code for Watchtower’s account, and use this code to customise a new award to his specifications. As a result, I now have a resplendent trophy adorning my desk, and a constant reminder of the lengths Watchtower will go to in congratulating itself.
After this initial meet-up, we were able to get down to business. Both Covert Fade and John Redwood have been doing brilliant work on JWsurvey as editor and assistant editor respectively, and finally being together was a great opportunity to revisit their contribution to the website.
When Covert and John initially agreed to get involved, the idea was to give me breathing space to finish my book – a project that continues to take much longer than I anticipated (I am aiming to publish it later this year). But, since both have been given time and space to stamp their individuality on JWsurvey, I have been deeply impressed with their skill and dedication.
Covert is a balanced, considerate, highly-driven activist and an eloquent, gifted writer. John shares those attributes, combining them with considerable experience of the organization and an encyclopedic knowledge of Watchtower history and dogma.
The three of us, together with Jane Redwood, decided to get together for a working lunch at the South Bank Centre by the River Thames to go over our ideas for the future of the website. I approached the meeting knowing that convincing the team to continue on a permanent basis would be a fantastic result. I was relieved to find that neither Covert nor John needed too much persuading!
I am therefore delighted to announce that Covert Fade will be continuing as Editor of JWsurvey on a permanent basis, with John Redwood supporting him as Assistant Editor. I remain Senior Editor and owner, and will chip in with the occasional article, but the day-to-day running of the website, comment moderation and editorial decisions are in Covert and John’s capable hands for the foreseeable future.
In addition to deciding on the above, we also discussed ideas for moving JWsurvey forward. It has not gone unnoticed that a considerable “community” has formed around our website, and we are appreciative of the trust people invest in us as a place to come and share extremely personal stories and experiences.
Our long-term plan is to expand the website to include some kind of forum where people can introduce themselves and find support. Unfortunately, apart from the technical considerations, the main issue is manpower. We need volunteers that are like-minded, fair and capable, but also trustworthy. In fact, trust is a key issue in any form of ex-cult collaborative effort. Everybody needs to be on the same page on a number of issues to make ambitious projects work.
If you feel you are a good fit for this particular aspect of activism, please let us know. I can’t make any promises, and it is unlikely there will be a forum going up any time soon, but if we can at least have people on our radar for when we’re ready to push the button, that would be extremely useful.
Another aspect in which there is a need for more hands to make light work is in the area of writing. But, rather than tread on Covert’s toes, I will leave him to explain in a future article precisely what it is we are looking for in terms of expanding our writing team.
As I’m sure many of you can appreciate, JWsurvey has a unique tone aimed at reaching out to believing Witnesses. We also try to set a high bar in terms of writing standards. Therefore, if you feel you have the requisite skills, please stay tuned for an article from Covert in the near future that will spell out exactly what we’re looking for, and how you can apply to join the JWsurvey family.
We also briefly discussed plans to update the site and give it a much needed facelift – something John Redwood will be giving particular attention to. If you turn on your browser at some point in the coming weeks and JWsurvey looks completely different, please don’t be too surprised!
Included on the agenda for discussion were ways of ironing out the problems we’ve had with the Global Survey. Due to the overwhelming response to the announcement of the 2016 survey earlier this year, we had to take it offline for a few weeks due to the limitations of our account.
The survey is back up now (please take it if you haven’t already done so!) and we will look to upgrade to an improved service with SurveyMonkey so that sudden voter surges can be accommodated and nobody is needlessly dissuaded from adding their voice.
Finally, I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone, from the editorial team, to the writers, to the readers and commenters, for helping to make this website such a remarkable success. Currently we are getting 120,000 unique visits per month, and more comments than we can keep up with.
The dedication that goes into writing compelling, informative articles is one thing, but it would be meaningless if not for those of you who are relentlessly sharing links on social media, emailing links to friends and relatives, and generally spreading the word about JWsurvey in whatever way possible.
I think I speak for the whole team when I say the amount of views for the articles is a huge motivational factor in churning out more content. It is much easier to write when you know you have an audience. Just by opening up JWsurvey in your browser window to check for new posts, you are giving us all a great boost.
Your continued support is deeply appreciated, and as we move forward with some exciting future enhancements, it is fantastic to have you all along for the ride!