By A. Iwasa, firstname.lastname@example.org, radicaljournalismnetwork.tumblr.com
I’ve been a longtime advocate of some sort of new radical journalism network. Whether I’m reading about such heavies as Richard Wright and Nelson Algren working together in their Chicago John Reed Club while Howard Fast was in another in New York City, Audre Lorde participating in the Union of Soviet Writers sponsored African-Asian Writers Conference or even Jonathan Lethem’s membership in Science Fiction Writers of America, I can’t help but feel this sort of networking from the past has largely been relegated to message boards and what not on the Internet and it’s dangerous to be mostly dependent on one industrial technological source for that communication, and it’s no replacement for real human contact!
Originally, after the peak of indymedia.org and most of its affiliates, I was hoping to help organize an inter-collective journal based on the 1990s’ Network of Anarchist Collective’s (Dis)Connection. According to its first issue, (Dis)Connection was “a networking journal for radical collectives and infoshops.” I felt the Slingshot Collective’s Radical Contact List was a natural fit for starting something like this back up.
Later I learned about the 1969-’71 weekly inter-commune newsletter, Kaliflower, and became interested in that as a localized model that could possibly be expanded. According to the website diggers.org, “In the spring of 1969, the Sutter Street Commune began publishing an intercommunal newspaper. The name they gave this free weekly publication was Kaliflower, a play on Kaliyuga, the Hindu name for the last and most violent Age of Humankind, the idea being a ‘flower growing out of the ashes of this current age of destruction.’ For the next three-plus years, the commune, through the Free Print Shop, kept Kaliflower going. At its end, there were close to three hundred communes, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, that were receiving Kaliflower every Thursday. The progeny became so well known that eventually it gave its name to the parent, the ‘Kaliflower Commune’ as many people called it.”
My research on Kaliflower eventually led me to a few books on the Liberation News Service (LNS) and the Underground Press Syndicate (UPS), further expanding concepts for how to organize some sort of a new radical journalism network.
According to the wikipedia, the “Liberation News Service (LNS) was a New Left, anti-war underground press news service which distributed news bulletins and photographs to hundreds of subscribing underground, alternative and radical newspapers from 1967 to 1981.”
Also according to the wikipedia, “The Underground Press Syndicate (UPS), later known as the Alternative Press Syndicate (APS), was a network of countercultural newspapers and magazines formed in mid-1966 by the publishers of five early underground papers: the East Village Other, the Los Angeles Free Press, the Berkeley Barb, The Paper, and Fifth Estate. Walter Bowart and John Wilcock of EVO, with Michael Kindman of The Paper in East Lansing, Michigan, took the lead in inviting the other papers to join. It was hoped that the syndicate would sell national advertising space that would run in all five papers, but this never happened.”
I wholeheartedly believe the mass mobilizations against the Democratic National Convention and the Dakota Access Pipline this year have showed the ongoing relevance of grassroots media, and the role it can play in not only informing people but also getting folks to take action.
What I’ve been brainstorming more recently is a press service where radical media projects can seek new members and share and/or solicit materials and other forms of support.
Independent media activists could easily fit into the mix as calls for submissions, action and deadlines could easily be centralized and easily accessible for all the media projects.
Some of the print projects I have in mind are Slingshot, the Earth First! Journal, Fifth Estate and South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross.
To a certain degree I think some websites like popularresistance.org and itsgoingdown.org are doing something akin to this, but I think things need to be broadened, formalized and tightened up. Similarly, a commitment to print is essential. Some of the other websites I am thinking about are Indigenous Action Media, unicornriot.ninja and prisonbooks.info. Some of the radio shows are the Final Straw, Radio Unnameable and the Asia Pacific Forum.
Arts coverage could include Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll, Razorcake and Profane Existence. I’m sure there are radical hip hop fan ‘zines that are as good and/or better, so I am interested in suggestions in this department as well as all of the above.
I am consistently impressed with The Nation and Russia Today’s coverage with the politics of sports. I’m not sure where to begin at how to up the ante in this realm, but I know there’s got to be some radicals out there stepping up to bat.
Book Reviews would be a great way to incorporate radical history and theory. AK Press and PM Press are two print projects to possibly solicit review copies from.