How do you keep a good idea from being co-opted, plasticized, monetized, and capsized?
It is possible to print 10 different editions of an 8 page, full-color, 35 lb.,11” x 17” tabloid newspaper, the inside (2-3 and 6-7) pages being common material, (editorial and other “cartoons” from around the world), the front, back and centerfold being perhaps local, sometimes just personal-generated material, for 10 cents a copy. Each edition could be from 1000 to 5000 copies, adding up to a minimum of 10-20,000 copies in all. A variety of small circulation, somewhat neighborhood-oriented, art-heavy editions, can be printed at the same time and each one distributed by its creator(s) to available and appropriate perches. This can all also be put online at the same time easily.
Along with the phenomenal benefits, there is a hazard here too: If initial efforts at doing this are successful, it will soon be difficult to distinguish legitimate expressions, using this medium to increase local awareness and beneficial activity, from bogus, commercialized and ego-driven replicas. How can that degeneration of the medium be slowed or stopped? Can it be? Is there a way to highlight efforts that are creative and community-conscious from those that are destructive and misdirected without editorial control?
This can be happening at many universities and throughout neighborhoods and regions and provide a new means to mobilize people of conscience to be more visible, vocal and effective in generating life-affirming activities, from protecting critters to improving healthful opportunities to survive, and engage with the real world.
Some arrangements with editorial art producers and the syndicates which often represent them are already in place. There is an abundance of excellent material from around the world, due to widespread concern about today’s politics. There is also increased sensitivity by artists to unapproved uses of material, especially online, and this effort will work to facilitate the most appropriate and fair rules for the use of artists’ work. There does need to be a mediating agency, ThePrintPress.org, to enable this process to move ahead, with access to legal advice etc. Hopefully, existing publishers can provide whatever guidance and management is needed to maintain a quality result.
All paper publishers will be required to respect what others regard as their proprietary material and receive permission before it is copied. Also, it will be highly preferable that an element of the paper be related to the physical proximity, the neighborhood, where it originates, to support its relevance. While spawning this “new” medium surely has its risks, the potential rewards here are just too vast to ignore.