lets revitalize US independent print media

Submitted by mockingjanthony in Media (edited )

do you run a print shop? if not why not? what can the movement do to support you?

i ran a print shop under the banner "mobile front" for a few years in portland maine. i distributed free/pay what you can zines, and offered free/pay what you can printing services to working class activists and organizers. passive donations, people paying what they chose to at the point of exchange, paid for things like paper and ink, and food, drinks and cigarettes for unwaged workers producing and distributing media and at meetings. we also fundraised more actively using crowdfunding platforms, and direct donor requests of more priveleged activist allies in the community.

i also offered "featured zine sets" where folks could mailorder 3 zines in a certain subject for $5-15. i successfully applied for one 1k microgrant through a radical non profit movement based foundation, that was divided up among the print shop and food not bombs sandy relief. and i did one larger fundraising campaign, for 1k, which was split up between homeless solidarity project, buying socks and shoes, and the print shop.

the equipment all shit the bed last year in the middle of a large job, printing a statewide homeless newsletter for peer support and advocacy group i was trying to start, to educate, and organize direct action housing solutions. and i haven't bothered trying to fundraise to get new equipment yet but I would like to. kinda got jaded and given up on a lot of movement stuff, and grappling depression these days, seeking treatment and support, with my sights on restarting mobile front, and homeless solidarity project, and food not bombs, in a more sustainable sort of way.

think i depended too much on social media and online outreach and organizing, and so relationships with volunteers and participants were always kinda superficial and work oriented. im on the spectrum, so need to find partners who can help navigate the more interpersonal shit people need to feel engaged because as much as i love people, and love working with people on movement stuff, i just lack certain cognative capacities that people need to feel connected in a group.

so yeah, this is where im at and taking steps to work on it. learning about my personal issues that got in the way of my organizing. and also exploring different funding mechanisms. i think next time i will be stricter about priveleged activists paying more, and possibly trying to market the print shops pay services to greens and non profits, so there is a reliable income to fund anarchist prop. also want to do more micropublishing, producing original content, rather than focusing almost exclusively on redistributing found zines. last time i was also homeless, using friends basements, with unreliable access, for production space, and distributing out of backpack, on foot. this was limitting, so with more personal stability i hope to do an all around better job at mantianing an indemedia presence and grow something sustainable.

please share your print shop stories, good or bad, what you learned, obstacles you encountered. if you want to start a print shop but don't know where to begin, feel free to ask im sure folks are willing to share their experiences. and if an exciting project pops up maybe as a movement network we can help throw down to get it off the ground, or grow something already established. maybe we can also talk a little strategy, are there certain locations maybe where anarchist media may be needed more than others? maybe where there isn't much already?


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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

This sounds interesting and I think raddle as a community would do well to produce content for something like this - I'll try to put together substantial response sometime soon.

That said, a lot of us (including me) are not based in the US. So it might be worthwhile to discuss what might be desirable with regards to that fact.


mockingjanthony wrote

also we can broaden this. im not married to the idea of only growing indemedia in the US. im down for whatever. anything to grow the movement.


Defasher wrote

You have any experience selling printing services or zines online?

Createspace has pretty much taken over the self published book market, but there might be a market for zines and posters.


mockingjanthony wrote

zines, not much. nothing consistent. sold a handful of sets of zines, like did an eco zine collection, and an antiracist zine collection. only sold a few though. i really dont have the skills or interest in marketting and sales, but know its important. im more into the production and coordinating distribution efforts on the street level. its all important though.


chaos wrote

Yeah zines are great propaganda, especially now that print is an rarity, just leaving zines in public spaces can radicalize people.


mockingjanthony wrote

yeah, i don't mean to be exclusive for sure. i just know my situation and recent history of the movement. since 9/11 the movement has kind of internalized, there was an uptick in infoshops and indemedia centers, but then with the explosion of social media and housing crisis, access to spaces became kind of secondary and more difficult then say just forming an online group. so we lost a lot of infoshops and ground level indemedia here. not sure what its like elsewhere. i trust this needs to grow everywhere, the US has virtually nothing though, nothing consistent except in a few cities.


zod wrote (edited )

Yeah, this idea gets harder when you realize we're spread out all over the globe.


Tequila_Wolf wrote

Had a moment to write something. Alright, so, to start I’ll say - I’ve been involved in projects (couple years back) that include the production of books and zines. Where I’m from you don’t need a printer for this - for example, the cost of printing a zine was 15c to 40c USD, and you could do a significant print run of a book (at least 30 books, depending on size) for like $250 or $300. So we had people who curated content and people who designed covers etc and it was a lively thing for some time. I had some small but significant part in it, mostly focused on curating and editing/proofreading. Then we just sent it to a printer. Seems like things are much more expensive for you all.

I really don’t know what is possible for raddle at the moment with regards to this sort of project. Really I think projects like this work if there happens to be the right confluence of people for enough time who are able to do things. Personally I wouldn’t want to force anything and I think that raddle will just grow in other directions if our energy isn’t spent here. But I like the idea and it’s something I would try hard to contribute to despite a generally overwhelming life.

Are we talking about an international zine (production and) distribution? Something else? Does this mean collaborating and then having decentralized printing and distribution?

We’d also need to consider privacy concerns for those involved.


mockingjanthony wrote

dunno. i didn't have anything specific in mind tbh. i just want to build a print shop, and encourage more folks to start them. whether or not its something the raddle community formally endorses or wants to collaborate on isn't as important, as those able and interested on the ground doing what they can i think. independent media is essential and powerful. giving the tools of the media to the poor especially, the homeless who don't have reliable internet access in many places, people in prisons, refugees, those living without electricity or internet infrastructure. the poorest of the poor in the world.


Defasher wrote (edited )

I'm down with this if you need writers, but I don't know anything about printing.


mockingjanthony wrote

i know about the printing side of things. and can help get more local options set up. do you have any comrades in your area who might be into partnering? we can figure out distance collaboration, but im trying to move away from this personally, i just want to encourage more folks to do this stuff online, but then take it into the streets. i think we can help eachother best by sharing information and maybe crowdfunding together.


ziq wrote

Sounds like a plan. How will we fund it?


mockingjanthony wrote (edited )

crowdfunding, accepting donations at the point of distribution, having a pay-arm of the print shop to fund the movement side(without having the pay services take over), membership dues, fundraising events and/or campaigns, outside enterprises that pay in.

i think organizational membership might be a cool sustainance plan, never atually tried it out, but want to some day. need to find like 3 or 4 other groups, that have funding, and need printing, and form a kind of co-op, where those groups are the members and govern the co-op together for shared printing needs. if they are activist groups this could also open the door for funding a drop in community space, a shared movement newsletter for the local community etc.

in smaller towns and rural areas like here in maine, it might require partnering with less-then-radical groups, like mainstream non profits, community organizations, third parties, liberal activists, etc. but its the most sustainable framework i can think of for getting these essential movement infrastructures back together, even if some day down the line, we need to organize an aggressive takover and kick the liberals and whatnot out of the co-op.