Our first week back from emergency fundraising was a strong one, eager as we were to get down to the business of journalism again. We were so pleased with the tiny glimpses of solidarity we received last month from just a handful of other alternative media organizations, we decided to pass some back, hence our interview with friends at Clamor magazine in today's edition of TNSW. Finally, a solid batch of In Other News bulletins to catch you up on the rest of the news...
Here are the major articles TNS pursued on our first week back from fundraising.
After years of conflict between public-interest groups and the federal government over plans to create a permanent nuclear-waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, some senators remain unwilling to let the approval process take its course. Before Congress adjourned for campaign season, a senator introduced a bill that would allow dumping as early as 2010.
In Capitol Hillâ€™s frenzy to appear tough on illegal immigration, both parties gleefully went forward with border-security legislation that makes no mention of various reforms that immigrant-rights activists had brought to the national stage earlier this year.
Despite the appearance of significant dissent among Senate Republicans over interrogation "reform" legislation, human-rights groups note that non-citizen detainees held as "enemy combatants" may be worse off than before GOP "dissidents" stepped in to "help."
Rumblings at the US Department of Education suggest a trend toward greater standardization of higher education, alarming educators and activists who fear a homogenization of colleges they see as already failing on many fronts.
In St. Bernard Parish, a post-Katrina housing crisis has taken an odd turn. Local leaders say a move to keep rental relationships among "blood relatives" is just about maintaining community in troubled times. But critics see racist motivations behind a new ordinance that would effectively discourage the colorization of this mostly white New Orleans suburb.
TNS also covered Congressâ€™s consideration of a bill requiring strict voter ID regulations; a potential rash of industry raids on national parks; a federal realization that maybe a rocket-fuel ingredient isnâ€™t so benign in our soil and water; disabled Americansâ€™ continuing struggle to obtain a fair financial shake in the workplace; a court decision to hold industry groups at bay over water-pollution standards; ongoing talks between EU and American politicos about what the US government can do with how much of airline passengersâ€™ personal data; a Senate fight over perhaps-unnecessarily finite AIDS-care funding; and the continuing financial squeeze faced by middle- and low-income Americans.
We shook the week up with cartoons by Stephanie McMillan, Mikhaela Reid and Matt Bors. This weekâ€™s TNS Radio News Update conveyed the voices of people working on housing fairness in St. Bernard Parish, fighting the Yucca Mountain waste dump, and protecting civil liberties in the "war on terror."
Clamor Magazine Struggles to Survive
Alternative media is a social necessity, but sadly, one that is often under-funded. Almost as scarce as money for such projects is solidarity between them. This week, TNS is highlighting the important work of one another publication: the 6-year-old magazine Clamor, which explores the cultures and issues of marginalized communities. Clamor and TNS have been close allies for many years, and TNSâ€™s Catherine Komp is also Clamorâ€™s media section editor.
TNS staff journalist Shreema Mehta spoke to Clamor associate publishers about the trials and triumphs of producing a radical periodical. Mandy Van Deven is the director of community organizing at Girls for Gender Equity in New York City. Nomy Lamm is a writer, performer and musician based in Olympia, Washington.
How is a typical issue of Clamor put together?
Nomy: Themes are developed at the annual editorial retreat. Each issue has a specific theme, like "Land/Geography," "The Body," "Food," "Fear," etc. The section editors and publishers live all over the country, so as each issue is coming up, we brainstorm story ideas on a conference call, then section editors go off on their own to curate their sections.
What's the time commitment of the editors?
Mandy: It's different depending on the person, but I would estimate that I easily spend 20-25 hours a week working on Clamor. I am also in school full time and work full time. I know, it's a little crazy, but I have excellent time-management skills.
What role does Clamor play in the independent media landscape? What purpose does it serve that makes it unique from other independent publications?
Nomy: I think Clamor is unique because it is a cross-community, movement-based magazine that draws on the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic to sustain itself. Clamor doesn't have one specific ideology or focus that it's trying to promote â€“ it is working to provide a media outlet that can really represent the work that activists, organizers, artists and others are doing in their own communities. The container for that is that it's anti-racist, anti-imperialist, feminist, queer- and trans-inclusive, and within that the possibilities are endless. It's a space to connect the difficult internal work that a lot of these communities have been working on for decades, and see where our voices come together.
The NewStandard admires Clamor's commitment to solidarity with other publications, mostly because we saw little of it in our recent membership drive. Why is Clamor committed to this solidarity, even when it is financially struggling itself?
Mandy: While Clamor is certainly concerned about its own success, we see the successes of others as a part of our mission. Major media consolidation has meant increasing homogenization in how people receive information and
in what information people have access to. Clamor recognizes the importance of having multiple media organizations working to create media that is truly representative of the world that we live in. We also know that in order to survive, we need a supportive community. Working with other media is helping to create and maintain that community.
There are so many magazines out there, both in print and online form. What is the biggest challenge in sustaining a print magazine?
Mandy: Definitely the financial aspect because it is extremely expensive to print a magazine- so expensive that we actually use a Canadian printer, because the government there subsidizes printing companies. I don't think people really realize just how little profit magazines make off of selling each issue and the extreme delay in payment from distributors. It's just part of the business of making print media. I always tell people to support what they love, even if it is just a few dollars here and there, because that adds up and eventually those few dollars turns into a few hundred and
then a few thousand.
Clamor has run into financial trouble. What is your funding situation like now? Why should people donate to Clamor?
Mandy: Our funding situation is pretty bleak, but that doesn't mean we aren't hopeful. We are literally spending money as soon as it comes in the door out of complete necessity. With each issue, we have to work extremely hard in order to raise the funds to be able to print it. Did I mention that none of the publishers or editors are paid for our work? We do it because we love it, and we think it's necessary.
So far, we've been able to dig deep into our couch cushions â€“ springs and stuffing flying everywhere â€“ just in the nick of time, and it would be nice to not have to do that with every issue. When I was a child and told my mother I wanted something, she used to tell me that "want donâ€™t pay the bills." Ainâ€™t that the truth? But I can tell you if it did, Clamor would be filthy rich with all the desire our crew (and community) has to make this continue to happen.
Nomy: People should donate to Clamor if they have even five bucks to spare, and if they care about maintaining this community-based media vehicle. I believe Clamor fills a necessary space and has something unique to offer. We are all volunteers; we only do this because we are passionate about creating visibility, connecting communities, and sharing our experiences and resources.
How is Clamor run as a volunteer-run organization?
When I say that Clamor is volunteer-run, I am specifically referring to Clamor staff, not Clamor contributors, although many contributors have had their work published and then refused payment or made a future donation in order to show support for our financial needs. Our goal is to eventually be in a financial situation where staff is paid. It is so important in activist-y work that people be paid because many people are exploited for their labor in this line of work. Clamor doesn't want to be a part of that exploitation, and we work to meet the needs of our staff when issues arise.
Clamor is currently fundraising in order to publish its next issue, which explores topics relating to food, including sustainable agriculture, radicalized food culture, grocery stores and economics, urban farms, food marketing, food and prisons and more. To help get this issue published, you can send a check (write "donation" in the memo line) by November 1st to: Clamor, P.O. Box 20128, Toledo, OH, 43610 or use a Credit Card on Clamorâ€™s secure server here.
In Other News...
For today's edition of ION, view the online version.
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