25 November 2007

Independent Press & Its Vicissitudes

The other day I read an article in In These Times by Erin Polgreen enitled "R.I.P LiP"; it is a eulogy for a now defunct independent magazine. Of course, In These Times has had its share of financial troubles over the past few years. Hopefully it will survive in its re-organized format.

Polgreen astutely notes that even when they disappear such endeavors often serve as incubators for young independent minded journalists and wiwrters and artists. As an example she points to Matt Bernstein Sycamore (a.k.a. Matilda) who has moved on from LiP to Make/Shift ~ Feminisms in Motion. The latter "creates and documents contemporary feminist culture and action by publishing journalism, critical analysis, and visual and text art." And it seems to be off to a good start. Indeed, Make/Shift has been nominated for a 2007 Utne Independent Press Award in the category of "Best New Publication." On their web page the Make/Shift folks not only noted their own nomination but (generously) also linked to all the other nominees too.

I figured that I would follow the links and check out some of the other incipient undertakings. One of these, Blackfly, is published in Toronto and presents itself as "taking a bite out of Ontario politics." It too looks like a terrific outfit run by committed young folks on a shoestring.

Unfortunately, even though it has garnered critical notice, Blackfly seems to be really struggling financially. So if you are committed to the value of a robust, independent press, and especially if you live north of the border, think about subscribing or even donating some of the dollars you'd otherwise devote to holiday shopping.

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