The Peace Newsletter in the Changing Media Landscape

From the January/February 2016 PNL #848

By Carol Baum

The Peace Newsletter in
the Changing Media Landscape

Welcome to the Syracuse Peace Council’s 80th year of educating, agitating and organizing for peace and social justice. Much of our activist history is reflected in our Peace Newsletter (PNL), which has been published (mostly) monthly since January, 1936. All of the issues are available online at
www.peacecouncil.net (to access the older issues, go to the bottom of www.peacecouncil.net/pnl/old-pnl-archive).

The PNL has been through many iterations over the years, starting in January, 1936 as a one-page newsletter. It has been typed on a typewriter (correction fluid and all) and mimeographed. It has been laid out by hand (using rulers, glue and caffeine) by a community of people working late into the night. Today’s PNL is laid out on a computer and is printed offsite on newsprint, which enables us to distribute thousands throughout the Syracuse area.

Most important, the PNL has been a source of political analysis, a place to report otherwise-ignored news, an organizing tool, a voice for people finding theirs, and a way to connect the dots among issues.

For several years we have produced 10 issues a year. In 2016, the PNL will go to an every-other-month schedule. This decision was not made lightly, nor is it our ideal, and will be reevaluated later this year. The Steering Committee, PNL Editorial Committee and the staff all agreed to it. We want to share with the readership our rationale for making this decision. There were three factors that worked together:

1) Changing media landscape.

There’s no doubt about it – the media landscape is changing. We remain completely committed to print – not everyone has easy access to cybercommunications, many people still have a preference for paper, and the print PNL is distributed to coffee shops, restaurants, etc., where people can come across it. Print has an accessibility that is different from computer bytes. But computer bytes have a kind of accessibility too, and although SPC has a website, and is on Facebook and Twitter, we don’t put anywhere near as much energy into those as we do into print. We’d like to have time to experiment more with other media and see how our various forms of media can reinforce each other, rather than compete.

2) The cost of printing and postage continues to go up.

The print PNL is costly and continues to cost more. The PNL has been our largest expense after staff time. After much analysis, we found that the best way to save money on the PNL is to have fewer issues. This will free up resources that can be used on other types of media work and more peace and justice organizing.

3) Changing SPC staff jobs.

A staff person coordinates the PNL and works with the editorial committee. It is a very demanding job that used to be rotated among staff once or twice a year. Amelia Lefevre had been coordinating the PNL for three years and needed a break. To maintain the monthly pace of production, either of the other two staff people would have needed to change their jobs dramatically. Thinking this through provided the impetus to look at the entire picture of SPC media/communications.

We are both sad and excited – sad because print is a valuable form of communication, and we will be doing a little less of it, but excited because other possibilities are then opened up. We welcome your input and energy as we work to communicate to educate, agitate and organize in as many ways as we can.

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