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Prognosis Editors Say Funds Well Spent

March 02, 1992

The article "Prague . . . Land of Opportunity" (Jan. 13) quoted our chief competitor, Lisa Frankenberg, general manager and part-owner of the Prague Post, as follows, referring to her time as advertising director of Prognosis: "We raised $17,000 and spent most of it on rent and alcohol. I know because I kept the books."

We were never asked for a rebuttal or comment but, in fact, Frankenberg's statement is erroneous in all three of its major points:

1. We (actually "we" is a misnomer since Frankenberg was traveling through Europe when most of the money was raised) did not raise $17,000. The start-up of our paper was paid through our personal funds--traveler's checks, credit card loans, a cashed-in high school graduation gift and the insurance payoff from a car wreck--a motley collection which managed to come to some $8,000.

Investor money about matched that modest sum, the combo being spent on one computer, one laser printer, software, translators, a lawyer, office rent, utility bills and supplies, support for five people to live and work for four months between the project's conception and our first issue, government fees, and our first printing bill. Our investors have expressed amazement that we have been able to eke out so much from so little.

2. We did not spend "most of it on rent and alcohol." Money spent on personal fun came either from the last of our individual savings or, later, the stipends we allowed ourselves (about $40 a month) after publication. In fact, the charge is ludicrous since $17,000 would buy nearly 17,000 bottles of good Moravian wine or about 55,000 bottles of the best beer in world, more than even Ms. Frankenberg can believe we drank, no matter how licentiously Bohemian she might believe us to be.

Regarding rent, we had no office for the first four months of operation and worked out of a series of two-bedroom apartments that held from four to nine of us at any given time.

3. Lisa Frankenberg never kept our books.

Maybe the reporter thought we were just a bunch of cute kids playing with their parents' money. The reality is that we are trying to put out a good paper on a limited budget, and we are serious about it.

JENNIFER OGAR

LAURA PITTER

CHRISTOPHER SCHEER

VLADAN SIR

BEN SULLIVAN

MATT WELCH, editors, Prognosis, Prague

The authors of the above letter have noted that two paragraphs of quotes in the Prague article, speculating on whether Prague of the '90s will turn into Paris of the '20s, were misattributed to Benjamin Widiss and were actually the words of Christopher Scheer. They are correct. The error came about because, inadvertently, I had written Mr. Widiss' name at the top of that page of my interview notes. My apologies to Widiss and Scheer, both of whose comments on young Americans in Prague were thoughtful and accurate. CHARLES T. POWERS

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