Can you believe we're already on Issue 16? We can't either. Thanks to everyone who has contributed over the past 3.5 months and helped make our fvcking idealistic web-paper dreams a reality :') We have exciting plans for this fall that we are so anxious to share with y'all very shortly (What? Special themed issues? Merch? A mobile app? Who said that?) Until then we thought we would respond to some feedback we've received. If you have thoughts/feedback you'd like to see published in the next LETTERS column, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Hey y'all, First of all, lovin' what you're doing. The site looks great and has great stuff coming out of it. I'm writing because my friends and I tried to go to Crystal Lake vis a vis the suggestion from The Media, but found that what The Media said and what we found were completely different. The dates of operation were incorrect, which would have worked out in our favor (we went yesterday, The Media said it opens on 6/27), but when we arrived we found that a membership was required for residents, and for non-residents it costs $10 per person per day (which is ridiculous, wtf). Anyway, I'm sure there is a way to get into the lake illicitly, after hours, etc, but it was a real bummer to get all the way out there and find that the lake was out of our price range. Just thought I'd let you know."
Hey Emily, Thanks so much for letting us know. We are really sorry about the mistake and the inconvenience it caused you and your friends. Now that we think about it more closely, we've really only ever been to Crystal Lake at like 2 in the morning. Oops. Seriously though, we are super sorry for the misinformation. It totally sucks when you expect something to be free and it ends up being out of your price range. Ugh. We are actively looking for volunteer fact checkers so that stuff like this does not happen again. Speaking of which, if anyone out there is interested in helping us for an hour or so per week as a fact checker, email us!
"I just really like what y'all are doing. Enjoy reading your articles, usually end up using them to spur some brain-use amongst peers, yaknow. Cool stuff! Support from over here."
Thanks for the note, Joey! Glad we could spur some cool conversations. Are all your friends moving to farms in the middle of Georgia now? Did you buy your tickets for Pitchfork Festival 2014? Are you hosting Ladyfest in your town!? Are you starting your own Free Skool!??? Are you actively creating safe spaces in your community and calling out harassment against female-identified individuals on the street!?!?!?!?!? Are you being the change you wish to see in the world!?!?!????? ARE YOU!!???///
"First of all, I want to say that The Media is absolutely kick-ass. It's both refreshing and heartening to see such localized, detailed coverage contained in artful writing. Knowing that there are creative minds out there making the connections between activism, art, and politics, and documenting citizens personal experiences of this culture, provides a needed reminder that even in the midst of our dominant and corrupt mainstream media landscape, there are writers out there willing to do double the work to ensure that citizens have access to truly honest coverage. I find your work inspiring!
With that being said, I have a question of advice. I'm currently a student studying media & rhetorical studies and gender & sexuality studies at a liberal arts university in the Mid-West. Last semester, myself and a group of others attempted to start a radical publication to tell the stories of experiences that are often silenced at our university (stories of sexual assault, the working conditions of our food service workers, the reality of adjuctification, experiences of being LGBTQIA on our campus, etc.). We want the publication to work as a consciousness-raising tool that encourages our classmates to see the connections between their and their peers experiences, and larger oppressive social structures. The actual process of putting together the publication last semester was honestly a bit disorganized and rushed, but we made it work because we were passionate and inspired. However, with a new school year coming, things need to be more organized so that our publication can grow and develop. Do you have any words of advice to make this happen? Specifically, I've had trouble in the past nailing down an effective and organized editing process for each piece. Any insight into how run an alternative publication would be appreciated!
However, most importantly, I want your staff to know that your work is phenomenal, and as I stated before, truly inspiring. Seeing publications such as The Media remind me that creating fair, non-commercial media IS possible, so thank you for that.
Wow Kate, thanx! Supportive letters like this are equally inspiring to us. Is your publication online anywhere? What's the name of it or that name of your university?
So far the staff of The Media is just 3 people. Liz assigns/edits the articles and Faye does the design/illustration stuff. We both end up sharing a ton of other work we never anticipated (responding to emails, printing calendars, handling donations, greeting our fans lol jk). ~* Our hero*~ Matt does web development and codes each issue. Everything else is done by amazing freelancers!
To be totally honest, we don't really have a solid/consistent work flow down yet (we've only been doing this for a few months) but we are actively working towards having a more set production schedule and sticking to it. We use a bunch of Google docs we try to update regularly to keep us organized -- one is a "tracker" spreadsheet that updates everyone on the status of the articles/artwork in the upcoming issue and when they will be done. Another is a "editorial calendar" that lists all of the upcoming issues (for the next 1-2 months) and what future features are already confirmed.
Okay, Liz is gonna write about her editorial process now!
When I edit pieces, I usually try to communicate with the writers as much as possible about the suggested changes. I know what its like to be on the other side of that and have editors change my words to something I'm not comfortable with. I usually make my edits with red font and send them back to the writers, and then we have an email exchange. I wish I could go over articles with writers in person, but most of the time they're in different cities. But if it's an option for you to work with writers in person on stories together, you should try it out. When I worked at the Phoenix, I would sometimes sit with editors while they worked through my piece and explained their changes to me. It was a really valuable experience and one that's becoming increasingly rare as newsrooms are disappearing.
Now Faye wants to say one thing!
I think the most important thing about starting any project isn't necessarily your experience or your credentials. Before The Media, I had no experience with journalism and had only published one illustration (and it was for an article Liz wrote!!!). Anyway, what I think is more important is surrounding yourself with people who share your enthusiasm -- people with aligning intentions/values. It shouldn't feel forced or like you're pulling teeth, it should be fun. Stuff should always be fun! Or like, why do it?
And we both want to say that you're in a really good place because your project is a university-funded publication. So right off the bat you don't need to make money. For us, the past few months have been full of trial and error, late nights, indecision, and semi-frequent panic attacks. In general, and in all respects, we're still trying to figure everything out. But the one thing we can say for sure is that we know our project will never be driven by the need to make money. Have we mentioned we'll never have ads?