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Why I Long for Shingles

Today is one of those days I would like to hang a shingle outside of my door and open Immersion Travel Magazine for business. Clare and I have spent the last week trying to wrap our heads around the legal side of getting Immersion off the ground. The pivot point in this whirling vortex of business structures has been liability mitigation. This little bundle-of-joy is what prevents a publication owner's worst nightmare: getting sued into oblivion because someone, maybe even the owner, messed up. In our line of work, that specter looming over us is called libel.

The short story of libel is: someone publishes something that winds up being false about a person or entity. That person or entity in turn is then harmed by the falsehood and proceeds to sue the pants off the writer, editor, and publisher of the article. While ethical journalism is at the core of our ideals, we are human and there is the possibility (however slight) of making a mistake. Certain business structures, like a limited liability company (LLC), protect the owner's personal assets. This means that if we get sued into bankruptcy, only the business will sink to the ocean floor and the captain gets to jump in the life raft with everyone else.

Disaster-at-sea metaphors aside, this legal jazz isn't our cup of tea. Sure we have some business sense and a little common sense to boot, but the truth of the matter is, we are creatives. Clare writes and edits, and I make pretty pictures and websites and stuff. At least I think that is what my degrees are in. Never in my collective college years did one of my studio art or journalism courses cover how to file Articles of Organization or how to properly file for tax codes as a general partnership. Sure there was an intro to business course, but the lessons never made it past positive bottom line: good, negative: bad.

So, all this leaves me with an awfully long reading list with titles like statute 204.1b n6 g27 i9. How depressing. Enter... the business lawyer. I'm pretty sure he and all his colleagues had a meeting one day and determined that if they made the process of starting a business as complicated as underwater basket weaving with one hand tied behind your back, then we would all come running into their arms for help. So far, it's worked. We have a meeting with our business lawyer next week. Personally, I would like to go back to hanging that shingle out front and making pretty things for you to look at.

December 9, 2013

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