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A Newsletter!

jumpjet's picture

Lambert's post about Avedon's post mentioning flyers has latched onto me and refused to let go. Corrente and the sites it links to are invaluable to me because they allow me to learn about the truth behind the confusion and the smokescreen put up by those who would seek our country's ruin; however, I'm painfully aware how few people are exposed to what I read every day. Many of them don't know this corner of the internet exists, and many others don't even use the internet as their major news source. That's why I love Avedon's idea of flyers so much- it gets the truth off the internet and into a physical, tangible form that people can take with them, read, and consider, without the need for a computer.

But today I had a rather mad idea: instead of making new content for a flyer, why not tweak some of Corrente's current content and put it into a newsletter?

I'm thinking a single, standard letter-size sheet of paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. The content would be blog posts at Corrente, modified as much or as little as necessary to work in print- although we could of course write new articles specifically for the newsletter. Anyone who wants to volunteer an article could submit one; however, to make sure the articles are transcribed in their entirety in a legible type size, I don't think there should ever be more than three articles on the page. If more than three people volunteer per newsletter, we could set up a rotating schedule of authors.

The way I see it, two articles would be in column format, with the third article in a wider format; the wider article could be on the top or on the bottom, depending on its importance. This and this are about what I have in mind. We could even include Vastleft's 'American Extremists' cartoons if we could spare enough space.

Once the newsletter is ready? Put it into PDF format and stick it on the site here. At my local Kinko's, I think a black and white copy runs about 10 cents a sheet- it might be even less. So $100, an amount I can spare, will get me at least 1000 copies (provided they have enough paper). Everyone else can make as many copies as is reasonable for them to pay for, and we can scatter them across our home towns and home cities. Leave them at universities, at the Social Security Administration, at the DMV, at local hospitals and clinics.

The idea isn't exactly original; during the debate over slavery in the former half of the 19th Century, radical abolitionists would make their views heard by publishing their own newspapers. William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator and Frederick Douglass' North Star are among the more famous examples. Every middle school and high school student, at least of my generation, learned about them in US History class- how they published their papers to make their views known to the masses, and how they were often met with violent responses from pro-slavery groups; printing presses were destroyed, and at least one man, Elijah Lovejoy, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob for his publications.

The printed word is useful in ways the on-screen word is not: it can be saved away, it can be passed around in physical form, it cannot be deleted. It can reach people who don't use the internet with the regularity we do here. Corrente serves as a conduit for the truth; why not bring it beyond the internet? Why not release it into the wild world to do its good work?

As for a name for this new newsletter, I thought we could name it after the site's 'official' hypertext address: The Corrente Wire. 'The Wire' for short.

No votes yet


Submitted by libbyliberal on

day out of the blog I did with lots of womenenews Sharon Johnson quotes about what raising retirement age and catfood commission will do to women. Especially understanding that 1 out of 4 women is 90% dependent on social security to survive. It got picked up a few people and makes people ANGRY!!! We need that.

I think maybe 2 full articles and the 3rd space is a wrap up summary of more article highlights. And put the web address of corrente on it.

What say you lambert???? et al.????

I hope more brainstorming happens on this.

I have been passing out Green flyers in front of Starbucks and bookstores. Course people are not readily reaching for them. Sigh.

It is so tough to disseminate information. I think the cartoons of vast and now Mike's would be terrific on this to attract attention. If color even the flower pix by twig et al. that are so eye catching.

Maybe even hooking up with college newspapers and wondering if they will print a compilation each week or month from corrente???

Submitted by lambert on

... or put together a team to do it, I'll put links to the PDF in the sidebar to make it easy to download.

* * *

Don't let this perfect be the enemy of the really great, but ---

I do think that in a perfect world there would be local content as well, but maybe we can create that as well. Locally, everywhere people really have problems that are pretty much the same, because the problems are being created from the same corporate playbooks. But this never gets covered, so the only way to get it covered is local-to-local, and not local-to-national-to-local, because the national hub is too corrupt to cover the news.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I confess I didn't think of it at first. My mind always seems to start at a global, or at least at a national level. But I do think local content would be nice. Maybe two national/special articles, one about local affairs? And the local article could be written by individuals depending upon their location.

At this point I'd be happy to take volunteers. I've never put together something like this before, but I'll happily learn how if there's enough interest.

Perhaps we could double-side the newsletter for more content? That costs more per copy at Kinko's, though, and one of my prerogatives was to keep this idea as low-cost as possible so everyone here can afford to help spread the word if they choose.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Might be a place to start. If you post something local, just add the tag of where it pertains.

Submitted by lambert on

... specifically with zip codes and so forth.

However, I don't think this is so much a technical issue as a content issue. PA_lady's series on the Marcellus shale was definitely local, yet with national implications. IF the writing is there, the tech stuff can follow.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I never really use tags and I imagine first timers would be even less inclined to figure out what the specific tags were.

Frerico's picture
Submitted by Frerico on

Hey. I have to admit, since that post by Avedon, I've been thinking about how to do something like this myself. Good for you Jumpjet for trying to get the ball rolling on figuring this thing out.

One thing I would recommend you do Jumpjet, is really focus on ways to make this an easy to do, repeatable process, that anyone could do anywhere. That way information that flows out is not just uniform but easy to distribute and you thus end up with an increased chance of getting your message out. Going with the PDF and having it posted somewhere on the web is a great idea.

One of the concerns I do have about all this is a workable distribution model. How do we get this info into as many hands as possible? Leaving a stack of them somewhere is very low bang for your buck. Handing them out gets you a little more exposure. Putting them in mailboxes is even better, and direct mail flyers may be the best. Of course costs go up exponentially with each step up in reach that you go for. I would recommend you shoot for a goal of some kind to represent how many people you want to reach and then try out different ideas to try and meet those goals.

For example, you could run an Information Dump Drive (a crappy name, just brainstorming here) on the web periodically. You do this by posting the pdf up on the web and then asking all your web readers/lurkers/etc to go and let's say print 10 copies of it and pass them out in breakrooms, bathrooms, to friends, and family. Anywhere they can think of, that might be a good way to help pass the word around. You don't want to go too big because when you ask people to do a lot, then it takes a lot of incentive to get them to participate. But that would be very low cost and easy to distribute and could cover a wide geographic area, possibly. Drawbacks exist but this is just one idea to try.

Libby's idea for college newspapers up above is not a bad idea either. The ultimate goal is to get the information into as many hands as possible. So there are lots of things to try.

Depending on how far you want to take this Jump, I wonder if there are any Correntians out there with any marketing experience. That would be handy to have in a situation like this. As well as someone with some publishing experience too. Anyway, just my two cents. I'll try to add some more as I think of things. I hope this helps with the brainstorming.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

federal laws, re: handbills and flyers, I need to share some info. Firstly, each municipality has its own codes re: handbills/flyers, and just as an example, 1 of them disallows placing them on windshields, delivery to homes during certain hours, and even Sundays, the flyers must be attached so as not to fly away or litter, and also placing them ANYWHERE (say, in bulk, at a pubic venue) without the express permission of the owner of the property, and backs these up with fines(!) (oh and if there's a sign on the door, like 'no solicitors", don't place the flyer). In addition, federal law strictly prohibits placing ANYTHING in, or on, a mailbox/P.O. Box, (and those guys you really don't want to get upset). In other words, the free flow of information that we thought we had, or used to have, just ain't there, because placement, placement, placement is the determinant of access, and we've mostly lost the ability to post or pass papers physically, as was done in the past. The intertubes are the only conduit we have left, and the PTB are working assiduously to choke that off, too.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

free (to my knowledge) newspapers that I'll see at various places; one is targeted specifically to senior citizens, the other concerns information in one of our local school districts. I think one of them may be done entirely out of someone's home. I don't think they violate any ordinances, or if they do the local law enforcement doesn't care.

Of course, I'm not sure how many people pick them up and read them. But that's where the content of this potential newsletter would hopefully make a difference. Which might in turn cause the local law enforcement to care a bit more...

Submitted by mike flugennock on

What, you mean, like, a zine? Y'know, what with vinyl LPs making a kind of a comeback, publishing a print newsletter -- in downloadable PDF format for local printing and distribution -- might not be that big a stretch. That's basically what I ultimately intend for my cartoons; I create the work in an 11x17 poster format, so local activists can download and print them at their local copy shops and "flypaste" them on the streets in their own cities (I have a posse of my buddies who flypaste the cartoons here in DC when occasions warrant it). I've had work flypasted as far away as Russia, Spain and Australia this way.

Actually, in all seriousness, I rather like this idea in spite of myself, in spite of the fifteen years' work I've put into publishing on the Internet in order to bypass mainstream print media gatekeepers. When I first got into doing radical comix, in the mid/late '70s, I was picked up nationally in the old Yipster Times (a bit larger than a newsletter, of course) and locally in a little rag called Outlaws, which was the local Yippie paper in DC. Around the mid '80s, though, as the Leftie media scene started to dry up, it got harder and harder to find outlets for the political stuff, and went back to drawing happy stoned Deadhead comix -- like I did in college -- and managed to be picked up by Dead Relix, a big Deadhead fanzine out of NYC.

Finally, around late 1990, during the runup to Iraq War v1.0, I knew getting my views into mainstream print media would be pretty much impossible, so I hit on the idea of doing the work as posters and flypasting it all over DC (inspired by Robbie Conal's work in Los Angeles). I've been distributing my work that way ever since -- though I've had to spend less time on the streets because of all the activists who download the stuff, print it at their local copy shops and flypaste it all over the place.

But, aaa-aaanyway, long story short... in spite of the wide penetration of the Internet, maybe a print newsletter -- downloadable as a PDF and printed/distributed locally -- might be a cool idea... especially when I remember that when the punditocracy says that "print media is dying", they actually mean "big, fat, corporate-supported print publications are dying".

Distribution might be a bit of a problem; perhaps you could hit your local independent coffee joints, cafés, bars or nightclubs -- or, barring that, perhaps put out a version in an 11x17 poster format so local posses can go out at night and flypaste it.

Submitted by lambert on

I think the size needs to be 8 1/2 x 11 to make it very simple to print.

I think there should be one side with the national news.

The second side could be blank, and the material could be added locally -- print it out, then flip it over and print or xerox what you like on the back, or staple on a second sheet.

It would be better to make the second side here, and PDF regional "editions." But that's more complicated...

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I don't really have a magazine in mind, unless 'magazine' used to mean something a little different than it did today. As I said, this would be more like a one-page newspaper.

We could put your cartoons in the newsletter as well, perhaps alternating with VastLeft- assuming you don't think they'd lose something in black and white and constrained space.

Distribution should be decentralized, I think; we can lay down some general rules (like the ban on mailboxes suggested by Ms. Williams above), but beyond those everyone can figure out what works best for their own location. I want this to fit as well in each native environment as possible, and the best way to do that is to leave it to the people with boots on the ground.

I'm rather proud to agree that it's an old school idea. Sometimes the old ideas are the best ideas.

adrena's picture
Submitted by adrena on

the key is to convey your message in as few words as possible. Too much text turns people off.

Submitted by lambert on

1. I agree on fewer words. "Omit needless words." That's why one side of a sheet of paper is a good limit. A headline, a link, a short para -- maybe ten times. "10 national stories you won't read about in your local paper."

2. I can also set up here so that a post will print to PDF. So the newsletter could be composed here, just like a post (with all the advantages of being discoverable online and through Google), and then output to PDF, and a link to the PDF posted.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

That's more than I could have hoped for. I'm still learning my way around creating PDF files in the first place. Scratch that, I'm still trying to create the formats I had in mind in my word processor- I use an open source Mac-based word processor, so it doesn't do certain things as automatically as Word.

Regarding article length, I want to be able to convey actual information; the newsletter shouldn't supplant a visit to Corrente, but it should be able to stand on its own. That's where my idea of a three-article limit came from.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

...indie bookstores might be a good venue for them. And this reminds me of the alt-post in 'the Crying of Lot 49'... ;) we have an alt-postoffice here, this is probably a good time to start cultivating them elsewhere.