Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 06, 2019

How Moon of Alabama Is Made

In one of the interviews Seymour Hersh gave last year about his life as a reporter he was asked to give advice for other writers. He offered three tips:

  • Read before you write.
  • Know more than you write.
  • Get yourself out of the way of the story.

Moon of Alabama writings try to follow those rules. This though is a meta piece about our writing for Moon of Alabama. The third rule thus does not apply.

To publish five to six original pieces per week, each on a different issue, requires appropriate tools, time, and a disciplined workflow.

The MoA Newsroom


The first half of my days is spent with gathering news. It starts at at 7:00 or 8:00 am with scrolling through the last night's tweets of the 600 Twitter accounts I follow. If there are links of interest they get opened for later reading. Then comes a walk through the major newspapers' headlines and news agency sites. At the end of this process there are 20 or more open browser tabs that require further attention.

After a quick glance they get either closed or saved. The links and headlines will be copied into Notepad++ where each general current issue - Syria, Boeing 737 MAX, China tariffs, etc - has its own file. If there are usable excerpts or quotes they are added too. It is pretty much noon by the time the general reading is finished.

After a quick lunch comes a short check of Moon of Alabama. Comments caught in the spam folder ask to be liberated. The last night's treads might be in a need of a clean up.

Another reading round follows through the dozens of blogs on our Links page. In between more stuff comes up on Twitter that again deserves attention. Now, six hours after the workday began, the information collection phase is mostly finished.

Then comes the big question of the day. What should I write about? What is the issues where I could make an interesting point that others have missed?

At times the answer is obvious. On other day there is absolutely no idea and even a walk through the neighborhood does not help to make that decision.

Luckily there are also days where I  get help from my neighbors and friends.


The writing itself is rather quick. To type up the raw version of an 800 word story takes only about two hours. Most of the details come from earlier research or from previously collected links. The following editorial and production process now often takes longer than that.

The first reading through the raw story checks for the basic logic and completeness of a piece. Does it really make the point it is supposed to make? Are there claims in it that need to be substantiated? Is this or that detail necessary to make the point or is it just fluff? Do the quotes or excerpts make sense? If necessary, details and links get added or cut at this time. Pictures will have to be found, cropped, resized, uploaded and linked.

So far all this is is done in basic HTML directly in the editor the Typepad system provides. Only now follows the switch to the better readable rich text mode that you see here.

The second reading includes style and layout issues. Are there boring repetitions or long nested construct over which a reader might stumble? Does this sentence use the right tense? English is not my first language and I never lived in an English speaking country. I often need help with it. I use to find synonyms or better English expression for whatever meaning I have in mind.

The last reading is abstract from the content and strictly to eliminate typos. Inevitably some will escape.

Time to publish? Not yet. A break is necessary to distance oneself from the text. Filling the cloth washer or running some errant helps with that.

Then follow the last three tasks - find a headline, write a summarizing intro sentence and formulate the end. All three are most important for the attractiveness of a piece to readers and to commentators.

Only after all three are edited and rechecked for mistakes the 'Publish' button gets pressed. The day's work is finally on its way to you, the readers of this site.

It is also you, the readers, who make Moon of Alabama possible.

Your writer and host lives alone and is quite frugal. My apartment is in a small town that has now became part of a big city. Everything I need is within easy walking distance. This is the ideal place to do such time consuming work.

But there is also a need for income. I depend on you who read this to contribute to it. Email 'MoonofA @' for my address and bank connection. Or use the Paypal button below to send whatever you are willing to spare down my way.

Thank you. - b.

Posted by b on June 6, 2019 at 21:03 UTC | Permalink


Thanks for sharing your editorial process, b. A very interesting post. To be honest, I first doubted your abilities when you took up the mantle from the great Billmon (who seemed to reel off advanced economic posts with greater ease the rest of us could flip pancakes and seemed to have a certain number of senior bureaucrats and politicians on speed dial). Over years, your pieces have acquired steadily more depth and more insight that today MoB is like that first Whiskey Bar. It's an honour to be able to support your mission.

Posted by: Uncoy | Jun 6 2019 21:14 utc | 1

thanks for sharing this b... i am not surprised at how much time you devote.. your work is top quality too.. i only wish i could send more money! i did send mail yesterday - snail mail.. keep up the great work and i hope others find the time to support you financially.. i would be really disappointed if you were not able to continue.. thanks to you and others who can support b here!

Posted by: james | Jun 6 2019 21:56 utc | 2

b. Thanks for this. I had imagined your day as something like you describe. It’s amazing how one guy in Germany with a very special analytical mind, a lot of discipline and humility can have such an impact. I recently heard Peter Lavelle mention you on Crosstalk.

Now my circumstaces are better I will start contributing a little each month. I did manage to persuade a rich Middle-Eastern friend to do so a while back. I will make sure he still does.

Posted by: Lochearn | Jun 6 2019 22:20 utc | 3

Thank you b that was a mighty good post. I am inspired and appreciative of all you do. I did notice that your beautiful furry friend is about to press the escape key. Wise little critter.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jun 6 2019 22:55 utc | 4

Time to revert to the verse of the Brecht-Weil "The Alabama Song" that the "Covers" usually omit?

Oh send us a few little dollars!
Oh you know why,
Oh you know why!
For we must have a few little dollars
For if we don't have a few little dollars
I tell you we must die!

Oh Moon of Alabama
Will have to say goodbye
We haven’t a sugar-mama
And so must have dollars
Or we must die.

Oh send us a few little euros!
Oh you know why,
Oh you know why!
For we must have a few little euros
For if we don't have a few little euros
I tell you we must die!

Oh Moon of Alabama
Will have to say goodbye
We haven’t a sugar-mama
And so must have euros
Or we must die.

[Etc. for "yen", "yuan", "roubles", "pounds", "pesos" ...]

Posted by: Evangelista | Jun 6 2019 23:16 utc | 5

Gosh, b, that was actually a privilege to see your workspace. Truly.

I have my desk facing the window - it enables much more distraction and thus spares me much work ;)

But a man of your kidney would require to be facing a wall. You were never in an English-idiom environment? This amazes me, because your English is so idiomatically songful. Well, there's an idiom for you, but I don't think you'll find it outside of P.G. Wodehouse.

I have a mouse like yours. The upright hand makes so much more sense to the sinews than the flat and over-leveraged hand.

I did send you money this morning. Otherwise I wouldn't dream of wasting your time with this nonsense. When the fundraiser is over, you must be sure to say if it's enough. You have to let us know if you're still broke. And whenever you're broke.

Posted by: Grieved | Jun 7 2019 0:01 utc | 6

Very interesting account of your workday. Thanks very much for sharing it (and the info about your little research assistant) with us barflies!

Would you be interested in adding to your Alt Media links?

Posted by: Jen | Jun 7 2019 0:14 utc | 7

I echo Grieved's last paragraph, let us know how you fare b.
Guidance & Love..

Posted by: Lozion | Jun 7 2019 0:58 utc | 8

"What are the issues where I could make an interesting point that others have missed?"

That's the site in a nutshell. Thanks, B

Posted by: daffyDuct | Jun 7 2019 1:01 utc | 9

Finally successful. Donation made.

Thanks b.

Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 7 2019 1:16 utc | 10

Thanks for showing us your writing process, b. It's clear from the quality of your research that
much effort goes into your publishing process. We're all thankful for it. I myself just write in LibreOffice before exporting to WordPress. I don't really like web editors.

Posted by: David | Jun 7 2019 1:32 utc | 11

Thank you for sharing your creative process. You richly deserve the recognition you are receiving and congratulations on the awards.

It is an honor to hang out at your bar and sing my one note Samba of public/private finance within the geo-political context you provide.

Financial support will be timed similar to the past years but maybe not as much as last year when I sold my house in Portland and felt flush

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jun 7 2019 1:34 utc | 12

As a former college English Tutor and Writing Skill's Instructor (45 years ago) I have to say that your work is not just comprehensive but a thirst for the truth, satisfying, a labor of love, and totally rewarding. You're a lucky man...

Posted by: Robert | Jun 7 2019 2:07 utc | 13

Fascinating and a model to follow. I am really full of admiration for what and how you do it. You are one of the last serious investigative reporters. Thanks

Posted by: Virgile | Jun 7 2019 2:10 utc | 14

And you do this all solo, no life partner for support, to use as a sounding board. Amazing! And all the media you peruse is also mostly in English! The words I might choose will all fall short of exclaiming your uniqueness, brilliance, determination, and boldness in your quest for objectivity in your labors to inform others of the truths they are denied. Mere thanks is far from worthy enough for such a fantastic scribe, but aside from monies, that's the extent of the accolades I can convey! Thanks b!!!!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 7 2019 2:10 utc | 15

Small donation made. Thanks b.

Posted by: WJ | Jun 7 2019 2:15 utc | 16

Thanks b for all your insights including this current one which let me peek behind the curtain enough to respect you all the more. I think this may be my first comment on your blog, and will likely be my last for a while, but please know that all your regular commentators and especially you enhance my understanding of things greatly.

Posted by: David Nelson | Jun 7 2019 3:36 utc | 17

Thanks b, interesting post. A few more writers such as you would be nice, but most don't pursue truth, they pursue $.

Love the squirrel, I have many where I live..

Posted by: ben | Jun 7 2019 5:06 utc | 18

@Uncoy - I never had the intention to pick up from Billmon. I just wanted to have a place for comments when he closed them at his site. I'll also never be a match for him. He is a class of his own.

@Grieved - I have my desk facing the window - it enables much more distraction and thus spares me much work ;)
I had that too as seen in the earlier picture. But the now bigger screen to the right was in the way of opening the window. I had to change the setting. The squirrels still come to distract me. They knock on the window for their daily walnut ration. It must be the third generation by now that has learned how to order me around.

@all - Thank you for your kind words (and your donations).

Posted by: b | Jun 7 2019 5:36 utc | 19

A very very small donation from India! I can't say enough thanks to you! God bless you !

Posted by: Niraj | Jun 7 2019 7:08 utc | 20

@B: I would have donated but do not want to open a Paypal account. Is there another way (for Germans with a Mastercard)?
Thank you for your meticulous work, which I appreciate very much.

Posted by: Wolfgang Fuller | Jun 7 2019 7:22 utc | 21

@Wolfgang - please email me at MoonofA @ - I'll send my address and banking information.

Posted by: b | Jun 7 2019 9:10 utc | 22

@9 daffyDuct

I guess that's why the squirrel is so helpful; this site is in a nutshell.

Posted by: xpat | Jun 7 2019 10:51 utc | 23

Richard North at gets his readers to point out typos. I sometimes help out, and that seems to take a little pressure off him.

Posted by: begob | Jun 7 2019 12:10 utc | 24

So that's how it's done. Often wondered. And with just that you manage to outperform any newspaper I come across in England.

Unless I've missed it, you aren't covering the US/EU/UK defence relationship. It's an odd story. How to defend against a Russian threat that isn't really there and how to co-operate in wrecking countries we've no business interfering in, is the ostensible background. And how the respective defence contractors can best combine for the respective national interests. On that first Mrs May has been busy with PESCO and such things, and I suspect that such matters interest her, or her lobbyists, considerably more than the details of Brexit.

But behind all that is the genuine question of how best to organise national defence. Alliances are the most important factors there. Since the Munich Security Conference it has seemed that there is a contradiction in the matter of European/American alliances. The Europeans, including the UK, are heading towards combining to form a separate alliance. Since such an alliance is at present not credible they are hoping to shelter under the American defensive umbrella until such time as they can dispense with it.

So what's happening, b? Are the Americans happy with that? Are the Germans going to throw in their lot with a Russophobe UK government and a French establishment still focusing on MENA? Are the Greens - who seem to have developed a strong line in Russophobia themselves since Joschka Fischer - going to insist on Germany refurbishing its armed forces? Are we to see the EU/UK going for military superpower status or will they, when the EZ collapses or is dismantled, hope to retreat behind an American defensive umbrella that may no longer be there for them?

Dunno the answers to those questions. Don't even know if they are the right questions. Colonel Lang himself has said you are an expert military analyst, which is serious praise. I'd hope you could glance at those wider questions every now and again, as you work at those valuable analyses.

I still see Red Squirrels in Germany. Haven't seen one in England for decades, though I gather there are still some survivors around. Apparently the Greys transmit diseases that they themselves can live with. Active conservation is all that can keep them at bay. But we don't do a lot in that line here. Our Greens aren't up to much either, not when it comes to walking the walk.

Posted by: English Outsider | Jun 7 2019 12:27 utc | 25

This article about how B works definetly made my day.
The aside "I have never lived in an English-speaking country astonished me when writing so well. I am no native speaker myself, but have lived three years as grade school and junior high attendee in Ann Arbor, Columbia Mo. and Berkley Ca. have lived with English/American speakers for years on end and come out first in the TOEFL test of proficiency for teachers of English in a large West Asian country. (That was many years ago -- my English has gotten much worse with time)But have none of the ability of B. I'd love to know his educational background and if he's had native English speaker(s) as cohabitant(s).
A money contribution will be on the wy as soon as my next pension imbursment tickles in.
Owe. War suindt verswunden alliu minu jahr?!

Posted by: Ts'yew Taw-Loh | Jun 7 2019 12:37 utc | 26

Vielen Dank für ihre Arbeit. Ich habe einen kleinen Beitrag geschickt. Ein Patreon Konto öffnen könnte eine Idee sein um ein regelmässig Einkommen zu erhalten?

Posted by: Onkel Dagobert | Jun 7 2019 12:37 utc | 27

Thank you b. Bravo well done etc. Your work is impressive. I'm sending a little something something via the prior slow boat. It will be a few weeks, but it will B.

Posted by: Miss Lacy | Jun 7 2019 13:08 utc | 28

Thanks for the glimpse into your life. Fascinating and inspirational.

Your writing is always insightful and thorough, and often witty. It's very refreshing to have a news source that has proven to be so reliable and unbiased. And as you reap what you sow, obviously you continue to sow quality, and so reap a fine bunch of knowledgeable and interesting commenters. You definitely make a large contribution to my knowledge and awareness, so it's only fair for me to make a small contribution to you in thanks. Give me a couple weeks, I'll get something on its way to you. Thanks again b!

Posted by: J Swift | Jun 7 2019 13:27 utc | 29

From Québec, small donation for a big work ...thanks B !

Posted by: Marc | Jun 7 2019 13:29 utc | 30

from Paris, times are hard, but would be harder without MoA. soon i'll be able to make a bigger donation. thanks a lot anyway.

Posted by: alain | Jun 7 2019 14:46 utc | 31

b i’m not surprised at the time it takes … 600! twitter accounts oh man that takes courage. luckily you have a cheeky helper. i knew right away you were destined for blogger stardom you are better than billmon (cepting his wonderful dashing yet tight eng. writing style heh)

i’m also richer now like lochearn so will be able to send more soon (sent cash by post.)

grieved says to say if you need more please do that

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 7 2019 15:00 utc | 32

To those who didn't follow the "neighbours and friends" link, I recommend doing so!

@B: the squirrel pictures on the linked page are lovely (as is the story line). Can you link larger resolution versions?

Posted by: BM | Jun 7 2019 16:05 utc | 33

Thanks for sharing your process... it's no wonder your blog is so worthwhile. Proud to be a supporter!

Posted by: Marshalldoc | Jun 7 2019 16:05 utc | 34

b said,

The first half of my days is spent with gathering news. It starts at at 7:00 or 8:00 am with scrolling through the last night's tweets of the 600 Twitter accounts I follow. If there are links of interest they get opened for later reading. Then comes a walk through the major newspapers' headlines and news agency sites.

Does b ever use this comment section to get news ideas?

Mueller Caught In Another Deception; Key 'Russia Link' Exposed As Informant For US,

A Ukrainian businessman painted in the Mueller report as a sinister link to Russia was actually a "sensitive" intelligence source for the US State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian issues - and passed messages between the Washington and Kiev, according to The Hill's John Solomon.

Posted by: librul | Jun 7 2019 16:31 utc | 35

B, thanks for providing your readers with a description of your work process. Since discovering Moon of Alabama about 18 months ago, it has become one of my essential hits for gathering news and analysis each day. I recently made a donation to support your efforts. Long may they continue.

Posted by: Rob | Jun 7 2019 17:10 utc | 36

Who needs a Knight Errant when you have a Blogger Errant?

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jun 7 2019 17:47 utc | 37

For a very long time the thought was in my head that you need to do such a meta piece, and much more, a whole series where you try to help grow a new generation of writers.
I guess since the death of Robert Parry, which was a huge shock to me, the loss of such an influential and special person was made even more clear.
It not only takes away a unique person and character from us; besides the personal level and the loss of a reporter it also is a loss of giving those abilitys and strengths away to the next generation.

So this is most welcome. I just want to add please dont forget to protect your identity.

When last year on twitter i withnessed how Bellingcat tried to dox you, it confirmed my suspicion that you are on their shitlist. Stuff like "My apartment is in a small town that has now became part of a big city." may not seem too concrete, but all those pieces add up.
Even though i sense you already are aware of this risk.. Please resist the urge to open up to much, at least on personal info.

I know, this writes the gui who tried to dox himself here in the comments to invite those here claiming I (or any one with a dissenting voice) must be a bot.. ;)
Difference is, my personal contribution to this ongoing fight and propaganda war is damn small, and you have become one of the leading alternative voices over the last years (When i recollect right, the Syrian war pushed MoA up to that spot, with much help before from Ukraine regime change).
So please protect yourself, no matter what it takes. And please still try to spread the meta layer of what tools and methods one need to make alternative media truely fulfill all its glory promises, and avoid what it in reality sadly too often had become.
If anyone can do this, it will be you.

All the best to you, as usual.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Jun 7 2019 21:41 utc | 38


I love reading your Page. Real News.

Thanks for the Work

Greetings from Switzerland

Posted by: Santi | Jun 8 2019 5:51 utc | 39

You fried my brain when you said English is not your native language and that you never lived in an English country. You are top shelf material. Bravo.

Posted by: ruca | Jun 8 2019 11:08 utc | 40

Is it possible that the Chandler correctly calculated the time and distance to clear the passage but the Russian ship accelerated to provoke an interception?

Posted by: Vark | Jun 8 2019 15:34 utc | 41

Thanks for all you do. Your work is invaluable. Sent a small donation the other day. Much appreciation for your insights and analysis!

Posted by: MG | Jun 9 2019 5:20 utc | 42

The "neighbors and friends" link material and posts were very enjoyable to read. Have to add this comment to one of the posts there concerning a hummingbird, though, sorry: [for hummingbirds] "never honey or any other sort of sweetener. It’s not because honey is a choking hazard. Honey can quickly ferment, developing a deadly bacterium and becoming toxic to the birds."

Posted by: MG | Jun 11 2019 23:29 utc | 43

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