Print media in 2017

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petey
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Feb 25 2017 18:21
Steven. wrote:
PeterTCA wrote:

A solid reliance on cyberspace is not good. Someday, someone will switch it off.

yeah no that's not going to happen.

i wouldn't be so quick to say that. while i take your point that both state and capital need the internet, i can easily imagine a concentration of control by degrees. perhaps personal servers are a way around this, but i don't know the tech well enough to speculate.

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 25 2017 18:48

And it does look like the Trump administration is hell-bent on overturning net neutrality. That's a not a shutting down of the internet, but it does mean that internet traffic will be channeled away from radical voices.

That said, I'm with those who see a diminished role for print media in the anarchist movement. As I think Jim was suggesting in one of his earlier posts, the decline of anarchist writing (in print or otherwise) reflects a wider decline in organized class activity and organized radical activity. I'm not against writing projects, but I tend to think that the best (or most coherent or consise or whatever) radical argument won't win over most people unless it's somehow grounded in a relatable or shared experience.

As much as I enjoy Aufheben on an intellectual level or the quality of analysis of the libcom blogs, it's no substitute for the practical activity that would be needed to make radical writing relevant to people not already attracted to anarchism on a political level.

cactus9
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Feb 25 2017 19:56

Not specifically about anarchist media but I think that both mainstream and niche media are going to adapt and change in the future and I think that the resurgence of print will be a part of that because I just don't find I can reflect on and engage with onscreen or any other kind of media in the way that I can with print. If print media can find a way of getting around two major issues and maybe others it will be ok. One is that the Internet tends to be free and the other is the immediacy of the Internet. I don't know a lot about anarchist print media but those are just a couple of thoughts. The Internet is a good form of communication but it has inherent limitations. I might have missed the point here.

cactus9
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Feb 25 2017 20:07

Also I looked up "anarchist zines" and I found at least 3 nice looking sites with some interesting looking pdfs which is kind of a print/ digital hybrid. I would argue that pdfs are at least partly in the print category but the printing is (sometimes) done by the individual.

cactus9
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Feb 25 2017 20:16

I didn't mean to tell anyone how to suck eggs, as for the actual question of why there isn't a definitive anarchist journal in print, I dunno, is there a comparable journal for other political persuasions?

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Steven.
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Feb 26 2017 11:26
cactus9 wrote:
I didn't mean to tell anyone how to suck eggs, as for the actual question of why there isn't a definitive anarchist journal in print, I dunno, is there a comparable journal for other political persuasions?

Mostly socialist organisations have their own journals. But in terms of an independent one Jacobin has been mentioned as a good example. I personally think it would be good if we could have a "Jacobin of the ultraleft"…

Chilli Sauce wrote:
As much as I enjoy Aufheben on an intellectual level or the quality of analysis of the libcom blogs, it's no substitute for the practical activity that would be needed to make radical writing relevant to people not already attracted to anarchism on a political level.

while I see where you're coming from here, and would agree that practical activity is the most important thing, the "battle of ideas" still has a role to play. I mean look at all of us, none of us came to anarchism through a militant workplace organisation, we all came to it through reading stuff in leaflets, magazines and online

meinberg
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Feb 26 2017 12:50

Hey, first of all interesting thread! So here are my two cents:
At first I wanted to write an overview about the German situation, but tbh who cares... So instead some comments about print media, as someone, who was involved in different print projects.

First, I still think that there is the need to produce printed material: situation specific bulletins, (multi page) leaflets, mass papers and magazines. I don't think there is much need for a news centric print product, because we all get most of our news online and there are quite a few opportunities to get them. topic specific online news aggregations are super useful. (And like a lot of the other commenters, I really miss the time when there were more news on libcom.)

But for me a "libcom" paper should give you grounded information about past and ongoing struggles and room for discussions. So for me the ideal length of articles is a bit longer than those 500 words: 4000 to 8000 characters (I'm guessing that are 600 - 1200 words, but word counts are quite difficult in German).

I don't really like the "what audience" question, but it is important to know for what use you are trying to produce a paper: mass propaganda? As Lenin's "collective organizer"? to intervene in the more or less scattered scene/milieu? ... Producing a paper becomes easily just another task you do, so it should be clear what use the paper has for the producing group in their other political activities / in the daily struggle.

Distrubution: Forget book and info shops at least in Germany you sell reletivly few issues in the big cities (like Berlin) and nearly nothing in all others and because of that it is really a pain. One problem is the relatively short lifetime of newspapers and magazines (in comparison to books). So in my experience the only distribution that works is by subscriptions and active resellers. (If you are big and legal enough to be distributed by one of the big distributors and can be sold at "every" railway station kiosk like some German leftist papers and some punk zines, it is another story).
Also a lot people of my generation and younger don't read a lot, and they buy even less. If they buy something printed, it tends to be books... So at least in Germany there is a flood of (often bad) books, which collect articles.

Steven. wrote:
Mostly socialist organisations have their own journals. But in terms of an independent one Jacobin has been mentioned as a good example. I personally think it would be good if we could have a "Jacobin of the ultraleft"…

In Germany there is kind of something like that, at least for what is called "radical left" (I'm guessing that is a bit bigger, than what you mean by ultra left). It is called ak, and was years ago an ML party paper called Arbeiterkampf (worker struggle). Today it is called Analyse & Kritik. It is relativly big and has some (part time) paid people.

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 26 2017 16:24
Steven. wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
As much as I enjoy Aufheben on an intellectual level or the quality of analysis of the libcom blogs, it's no substitute for the practical activity that would be needed to make radical writing relevant to people not already attracted to anarchism on a political level.

while I see where you're coming from here, and would agree that practical activity is the most important thing, the "battle of ideas" still has a role to play. I mean look at all of us, none of us came to anarchism through a militant workplace organisation, we all came to it through reading stuff in leaflets, magazines and online

Of course, but for me anyway, it's part of a larger issue I've experienced in anarchist circles where there's this idea that if we can just get the right constitution/administrative structure/relationship with other organizations/publications, then we'll have growth and activity.

A lot of that feels like cart before the horse stuff. And I get it, those are things we feel are under our control or that we have experience with. But in a lot of instances they become our idea of practical activity and that's not going to get us to where we want to be - especially if we want to branch out beyond a core group who, like much of us here on libcom I'd imagine, were intellectually or politically drawn to radical politics anyway.

Spikymike
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Feb 26 2017 16:44

There still seems to be some value in the shorter targeted print runs of such as the ' WorkersWild West' and 'Rebel Roo' and also the more general AF 'Rebel City' and 'Resistance bulletins' in addition to short targeted leaflets for demo's and pickets etc especially as these can be combined with online websites and in formats that allow for printing off limited numbers to suit the circumstances of time and place. Maybe groups and networks need to distribute modern and cheep printing facilities around more to facilitate this? I personally still enjoy reading the 'heavier' magazines in printed format rather than online and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

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Feb 26 2017 22:46

I just wanted to go back to the discussion about news writing. Basically, I think what's been said about anarchists tending towards comment/essay writing is true (and it's probably been encouraged by pieces on stuff like 'Comment is Free' arousing such strong opinions, both negative and positive). I know that, for me, personally, when I think about things I want to write these days, they almost always take shape in my head as comment pieces..

So, I suppose what I'm asking (to Jim or Rob or anyone who's got any idea), how do we go about writing more newsy material? What would radical news reporting look like and what would the difference be between it and mainstream reporting on the same subject (if that difference is not comment)? How do you think we could go about researching these articles when most/all of us also have day jobs?

Sorry if these are daft questions though the last one seems to touch on other people's previous posts: that news reporting arguably involves more work than comment writing but without the 'glory' of being a theoretician/essayist with a unique insight into something..

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Feb 26 2017 22:49

Also, just to say, I found this news report writing guide on the site. What do people think of it? Apart from the comment at the beginning that "Western consumers are far too media savvy to put up with preachy, badly written rhetoric", it seems decent.. is it something still worth using?

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Steven.
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Feb 26 2017 23:05
Ed wrote:
Also, just to say, I found this news report writing guide on the site. What do people think of it? Apart from the comment at the beginning that "Western consumers are far too media savvy to put up with preachy, badly written rhetoric", it seems decent.. is it something still worth using?

yeah I still think that's good - although we should update the bit about using a tape recorder to say using your phone…

In terms of news, I think a big thing to do would be reporting on industrial action and campaigns going on, and try to get direct quotes from people involved

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 26 2017 23:19
Quote:
Basically, I think what's been said about anarchists tending towards comment/essay writing is true

FWIW, I think I'd differentiate between comments pieces and essays. So, like Phil's blog, who sadly doesn't seem to have been very active recently, is very much on the comment side of this. But they're short, accessible, and relevant to current events. Pieces like his have driven a lot of libcom traffic, no?

Jim
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Feb 27 2017 11:57
Ed wrote:
So, I suppose what I'm asking (to Jim or Rob or anyone who's got any idea), how do we go about writing more newsy material? What would radical news reporting look like and what would the difference be between it and mainstream reporting on the same subject (if that difference is not comment)? How do you think we could go about researching these articles when most/all of us also have day jobs?

Sorry if these are daft questions though the last one seems to touch on other people's previous posts: that news reporting arguably involves more work than comment writing but without the 'glory' of being a theoretician/essayist with a unique insight into something..

Easiest way of doing it would probably be setting up an email list or Slack channel of people who are up for writing news article. Working out what we want to be covering (I'd imagine struggles, organising attempts, far-right activity etc.) and then encourage people to start writing. People who are familiar with what they're doing probably wouldn't need much help but people who lack confidence or aren't very good at reporting would probably need some guidance.

Radical news reporting differs from bourgeois news reporting in a number of ways. The key difference is in what's covered. Things we find interesting and think people should be aware of differ quite heavily from what your average liberal editor of a mainstream media outlet will think needs to be covered. For example, we're a political website, we've not had any coverage of the two by-elections which took place last week. Most political news sites have talked about little else. While this wasn't a deliberate decision we took it's not something we'd seek to change.

Our story 'Neo-Nazi march to be held in Liverpool' was the first story anywhere about the Liverpool White Man March which eventually became an international news story. By putting that story out we alerted anti-fascists, Liverpool residents etc. that Nazis were going to attempt to march through their city. I think we can make an argument that by putting that story out we helped to mobilise the counter-protests which stopped the march from happening. We were also one of the very few outlets to cover the September 2015 street fighting between fascists and anti-fascists in Dover with our 'Neo-Nazi mob riots at anti-immigration protest' story.

The other differences are going to be in how news is presented. We will see things from a perspective a liberal editor won't. A good example of how our reporting would differ from a mainstream outlet is the story we ran on Bahar Mustafa. We ran the story as 'Persecution and threats against student activist escalate', because we recognised what she was doing was standard practice for the labour movement and she was being victimised for being anti-racist. The first Breitbart story on the same topic used the headline 'Irony Alert: Racially Segregated Event To Celebrate ‘Diversity’ at University of London College'. They then ran a load of defamatory and inaccurate articles about her which effectively started the harassment she experienced.

Jim
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Feb 27 2017 12:02

For an example of something we should be covering, earlier in the month Deliveroo infiltrated a WhatsApp group being used to organise their workers in Leeds, sacked two riders and reduced the shifts of five others. Leeds IWW have launched a hardship fund, we'd want to run an article about Deliveroo targeting organisers in Leeds to raise awareness of the hardship fund and encourage donations. If we'd been reporting on this closely we could have followed the story, so an article on Deliveroo infiltrating the WhatApp group, an article on Deliveroo sacking the workers, then an article on the hardship fund being launched.

Jim
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Feb 27 2017 12:10

Thinking about the Deliveroo thing a bit further, what we have actually done reporting wise is one news story on the wildcat strike. What we would have done in an ideal world would have been:

- talking to the union before the strike started and running a story on working conditions
- someone reporting on the first mobilisation when the strike started
- someone going out on a moped and doing a story on the flying pickets
- doing an analytical feature on the strike by interviewing multiple striking workers
- reporting on each individual day of the protests/status of negotiations with the company
- reports on each place the organising has subsequently spread to (Brighton, Leeds, Bristol etc.)

That's possible, but it'd need a large pool of people writing to make it happen.

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Steven.
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Feb 27 2017 12:16
meinberg wrote:
I don't really like the "what audience" question, but it is important to know for what use you are trying to produce a paper: mass propaganda? As Lenin's "collective organizer"? to intervene in the more or less scattered scene/milieu? ... Producing a paper becomes easily just another task you do, so it should be clear what use the paper has for the producing group in their other political activities / in the daily struggle.

Hi, that's basically what I meant: what is the purpose of the publication.

Quote:
Steven. wrote:
Mostly socialist organisations have their own journals. But in terms of an independent one Jacobin has been mentioned as a good example. I personally think it would be good if we could have a "Jacobin of the ultraleft"…

In Germany there is kind of something like that, at least for what is called "radical left" (I'm guessing that is a bit bigger, than what you mean by ultra left). It is called ak, and was years ago an ML party paper called Arbeiterkampf (worker struggle). Today it is called Analyse & Kritik. It is relativly big and has some (part time) paid people.

hi, yes by "ultraleft" what I meant was the general scene comprising libertarian communists, anarchist communists, left communists etc

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Devrim
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Feb 27 2017 16:39
Steven. wrote:
yeah no that's not going to happen.

It might not be going to happen to you, but it does partially happen to me on a regular basis. The Turkish state has regularly blocked certain parts of the internet over the last few years particularly Facebook. I agree that it's probably not likely for the whole thing to be taken down for very long, but I can imagine it happening.

Devrim

meinberg
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Feb 27 2017 16:42
Steven. wrote:
meinberg wrote:
I don't really like the "what audience" question, but ...

Hi, that's basically what I meant: what is the purpose of the publication.

Yeah, sorry, my answer should have read more ironic: because "the audience question" and what I described are pretty similar...

News articles were another point, where I was maybe unclear: I don't see much need for those short news articles, which basically only say that something happened, but you can't really understand the significance from reading only the short news article. A lot of news articles had that problem (for example in the Direkte Aktion of the FAU (RIP, I kind of miss the DA), but the last article of Red Marriot about Bangladesh could also be called an news article, and does not suffer that problem...

PeterTCA
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Feb 27 2017 16:54

Steven suggests three comments:

Business studies is alive with the buzz of the "Silo Effect". Departments working for the same organisation are in competition with each other, decline to share information and have scant knowledge - or interest - in other parts of the same company.

The switch to cyberspace brought in a new system of administration (i.e. we don't have to bother with it because it's bourgeois). Correspondence not responded to, donations not acknowledged, a general absence of "emotional housekeeping".

Audience. Amazing how many sympathisers out there who are hardly touched by mainstream Anarchists. Last year, at the funeral of Prozack in Bradford, over 150 turned up.

While there is an audience for heavy abstract theory it is a limited one.

I've been producing Anarchist publications for over 40 years and there aren't many problems that are insurmountable. When things go wrong refer to "another way of working" group.

Practical? If you are FOR print media then get behind a journal or form a publisher's group.

Jim
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Feb 27 2017 17:06
meinberg wrote:
News articles were another point, where I was maybe unclear: I don't see much need for those short news articles, which basically only say that something happened, but you can't really understand the significance from reading only the short news article. A lot of news articles had that problem (for example in the Direkte Aktion of the FAU (RIP, I kind of miss the DA), but the last article of Red Marriot about Bangladesh could also be called an news article, and does not suffer that problem...

I completely disagree, short news articles are vital as they allow people to keep abreast of what's going on without having to dedicate large amounts of time to studying a topic. Red's articles about Bangladesh have been great but it'd be better for us if we had people regularly writing short news articles as well as Red's more in depth articles. People want to consume news in a variety of ways, it's a mistake to think that there isn't space for short news articles.

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jef costello
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Feb 27 2017 17:49

Would it be worth setting up the equivalent of an RSS feed to something like Labourstart?

Short articles can be good as a way to just let people know that things are happening, it can encourage people, give them ideas or even just reassure them that every day isn't just an endless stream of workers' defeats.

If you're willing to put in an hour a day then you can put up a short article or two very easily. It's more a question of whether on a day to day basis you feel that it is worth it.

In terms of the internet obviously the internet isn't going to be shut down, but as Dev says facebook has been shut down repeatedly by various governments. If the market is big enough then the company will give in to the government as in China to keep business going. Governme,nts are also quite willing to take a hit if it keeps them in power. How many years has the Syrian government been hanging in there now?

Net neutrality is a thing to think about, it could choke out alternative voices, also provider blocks (for example my mum's provider blocked every download website I could think of or even google, and google are 'depreciating' pirate results too). There are always ways around things but these ways will become harder to use in the face of repression. The samizdat network was very impressive in many ways, for example, but I think they'd have preferred to publish in a less dangerous situation and probably would have reached many more people.

With all the talk of echo chambers and feed curating and all the rest I think we also have to think that the chances of people stumbling across radical ideas are probably not that high and perhaps a more vibrant working class news section might help.

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Feb 27 2017 19:13

Think of progressive left.
Salon, The Intercept, alternet.org, tomdispatch, counterpunch.

These websites host essays, but they have readership that libcom.org could only dream of I think because the content is so consistent. The content is produced regularly, and upon reading contains nuanced analysis that the mass media simply don't have.

Libcom having news articles would be great, but so would having more essay writers; people are craving logic amidst confusion.

And actually I think this year the website is looking pretty good.

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Reddebrek
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Feb 27 2017 20:59

I used to be a subscriber to the Morning Star and was impressed by their level of support, they had a monthly donation drive to raise £16,000 each month, and while they rarely reached it and most large donations were from CPB branches they weren't that far off. And that was just one revenue stream, they had fundraisers, sold shares, and convinced Unions to buy into it. And the obligatory webshop.

The Labour party also has a pretty sophisticated network for its propaganda. Even the local branches will have contacts with printers and other businesses for election times. And more importantly they also provide training and workshops for most activities. How to talk on the phone, how to canvass, how to set up stalls, how to deal with criticism, etc. And they always organized teams.

I said in another thread about a newspaper that a major problem is that a lot of people seem to be underestimating how daunting a lot of this is to people who have no experience of it. Its easy to lament the lack of support your getting, but if you don't actually provide support and training (in the beginning at least), then your not going to solve the problem.

I hate talking to people on the phone or in person when canvassing or fund raising. Had I not had some practice and the support of a team out there with me I wouldn't of done it. On paper its the easiest thing in the world and something most of us do all the time informally, but for me and quite a few others doing this on an official basis was really difficult.

I guess what I'm getting at here is do any of your organizations have any practical support and training for members who aren't already veterans on these things?

PeterTCA
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Mar 3 2017 10:55

This post ends up in characteristic fashion. No real decisions, lots of abstractions, no sense of mutual aid. Very different from people sitting around a table determined to produce a paper.

jondwhite did you get answers from your initial questions?

Were any action points evident?

Spikymike
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Mar 3 2017 12:12

Aside from the points I made earlier in my post No 40, jondwhite as a member of the spgb is maybe more concerned here about the questioning within the spgb of their continuing with the costly printed version of the 'Socialist Standard' which (for all it's annoyingly persistent electoralism) does on the whole regularly manage to provide easy to read basic socialist material, attractively designed, which others might learn from. I for one would miss it as would others who may have limited or intermittent on-line access. First contact with on-line web material often only follows from having first picked up a magazine or leaflet at a demo, picket, or bookfair etc. In marketing terms such printed material might be seen as a worthwhile'loss leader'.

Mike Harman
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Mar 3 2017 17:53

Just lost a long reply here by closing the wrong tab, a few points I'm not sure were covered by the discussion so far:

1. A lot of breaking news content happens on twitter now. It only gets into articles as 'explainers' and later comment pieces in may cases. This is a massive change to CPE in 2006 where we were translating and copying photos of French indymedia and similar. However if you do an explainer, it can then get a lot of traffic from social media. We did a quick thread of old articles about the 2005 and 2008 riots in France on our twitter account as background to #justicepourtheo, and it got seen by 17,266 people and just under 100 RTs https://twitter.com/libcomorg/status/829717073697845249 although actual click through to articles more like 5-20 each (but these were years old essays not current content).

Thread on the 96th anniversary of the Kronstadt rebellion yesterday, again just posting links to articles https://twitter.com/libcomorg/status/837389717343776770 this got 80+ RTs 10,000+ views and 100+ link clicks on the first tweet, then a handful RTs on the subsequent ones - again just posting links to stuff already on the site.

People also re-share articles that are shared by our twitter account (via the twitter button on articles), and those in turn get traffic as well.

However there's no indication on articles that any of this has happened, and not sure how easy it would be provide it even if there was. https://www.sharedcount.com/#url=https%3A%2F%2Flibcom.org%2Fblog%2Funiversal-basic-income-freedom-workers-13122016 does it for Facebook (over 100 shares on fb for that blog post). Might be a better site than that.

2. Two newish sites in the US, that are online only:

http://www.unicornriot.ninja has had actual reporting from #NoDAPL from more than one person.

Similarly https://itsgoingdown.org had report backs from the Berkeley Milo protest and similar.

These two sites seem to have taken over from indymedia in the US, and afaik no UK equivalent at all (except us maybe, by we're definitely not flying people around to report on protests...).

Speaking of which did anyone go to the LD50 protests in Dalston who fancies writing it up?

3. I agree with people saying the pre-requisite to a print publication is a steady flow of 500 news pieces and 1500 word articles. What might help with people writing stuff for libcom news and blogs, is if we had a way to collaboratively work on pieces before they're published. i.e. you put up a stub or draft piece, people with 'contributor' role can see it and edit it etc. that way you don't have to write an end-to-end article and hit publish before anyone else looks at it. This would have to wait for the redesign though.

Another idea would be using something like Trello - have to invite a load of people, but can then post article ideas and drafts in there before they get to the site.

That collaborative/editorial process for new online content is more likely to produce content suitable for print.

I really liked Base's first issue (only read it online though). I don't know how they do distribution, but for example has Freedom spoken to them about sharing distribution and similar? It would likely be easier for 4-5 irregular publications to share some infrastructure than to have a single publication coming out more regularly.

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 4 2017 10:19

Good post, Mike.

Quote:
What might help with people writing stuff for libcom news and blogs, is if we had a way to collaboratively work on pieces before they're published. i.e. you put up a stub or draft piece, people with 'contributor' role can see it and edit it etc. that way you don't have to write an end-to-end article and hit publish before anyone else looks at it.

This is a good idea.