I've noticed, on and off over the last couple of years, that when I say 'Freedom is the only anarchist newspaper in Britain', some people have responded 'well what about Schnews'?

Well, what about them? I like Schnews, I've met a few of their writers around the place and they're good people, and their newsletter is excellent. In a lot of ways, not least the fact that their publication techniques are more accesible than Freedom's, I'd say they have the better setup and they've run some outstanding stuff over the years.

But comparing them with a newspaper is ridiculous, as I'm sure they'd be the first to admit. In terms of pure word quantity, the difference would be thus...

Freedom as a (barely large enough to count) newspaper runs 8 pages of text, averaging 1,500 words a page - roughly 12,000 words in any given issue. This is split into:

- one feature,
- two reviews,
- nine main news articles,
- between 15-20 Nibs (news in brief),
- A picture story for the front

As well as letters, opinions, the cartoon and listings. Total? Maybe 30 articles of varying lengths.

Schews meanwhile is two pages of text, at less than 3,000 words total. As they come out weekly, this number should be doubled to 6,000. This is split into:

- Two main featured articles
- Two secondary articles
- 10 Nibs

Along with a cartoon and listings. Total? 14 or 15 stories.

Now bearing in mind that Freedom's output is really the absolute least that can be expected from a newspaper - eight-page tabloid, give or take - and that it is really skirting the boundaries of frequency as well ('fortnightly' being in that twilight zone between newspaper and magazine), and that Schnews is, using very basic maths, half the size even on a fortnightly comparison, why is it that people keep trying to tell me Schnews is a direct peer?

To put this in a bit more perspective, a story count of my local paper shows 92 including features, opinion, news and nibs (discounting sport) in an average 48-page newspaper.

A day.

Times by ten (discounting the larger Saturday editions, which would be done seperately)you're talking about 920 in a fortnight. Now admittedly 99% of this is filler which isn't really worth reading unless you're the one who's had their credit card nicked. But the point is made that calling Schnews (or, looking at the figures, maybe even Freedom) a newspaper when its output is a 60th the size of a mainstream paper's is just bizarre.

This is not to say Schnews, or Freedom, is not worthwhile. In each case, we break stories seen nowhere else, run analysis which is actually of some use, and fight an uphill battle against the big concerns.

Online, the picture is slightly less daunting. Libcom is doing well for itself, it's run 58 stories in the last two weeks, partly written by the large forum readership (a huge potential pool of communication if ever I saw one) and partly reposted from other sources, Indymedia UK does better still with (I'd average their daily promoted story count at around 10) 140 reasonable stories over a fortnight - disregarding my personal quibbling with some of the promotion decisions.

But perspective is important if we are to get anywhere. It is not enough to be content with a freesheet and call it a newspaper, hell it's not really good enough to work on a baker's dozen of publications of variable quality and call them a media presence. Piling our resources online is useful, but it's still small fry and compared to the BBC's average story count of 22 just on the front page (and bear in mind that Libcom/Indymedia etc all pile heavily with international news because libertarian UK reporting networks are non-existent), success is still very relative.

We can't afford to be thinking small with the media we have, particularly if groups are to continue this blackout of mainstream news sources that has so damaged the public profile of the movement over the last few years. It shows a lack of ambition and only perpetuates this sense of getting left behind by history - as we can't write the first draft.

Posted By

Rob Ray
Nov 4 2006 11:39


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Jacques Roux
Nov 6 2006 22:38
particularly if groups are to continue this blackout of mainstream news sources that has so damaged the public profile of the movement over the last few years.

Agree very much with this!

People seem very content to read the 'left' press - but they aren't very interested in writing it or researching for it. Even posting news stories on libcom (which are often just re-edits of other media) is time consuming, and that's the least work we can get away with!

The difference it would make if at least half of the people who posted everyday on the forums submitted a short (I'm talking like 400 words here) piece of relevant news would be amazing!

Nov 7 2006 11:57

yeah rkn it really would. it's encouraging to see more people contributing now though...

that said is freedom stuff still being posted to news? don't recall seeing anything in a little while...

saii interesting stuff, particularly with respect to the stats you got, nice one for working that stuff out.

Rob Ray
Nov 7 2006 16:30

Problem with the last couple of issues is they''ve been so late out it's been difficult to guage whether stuff should go up or not. Hopefully if we can get the mailout working properly again it should start getting posted again. There's a few stories from the next two issues which should be usable.