Transition Free Press — Winter 2013

Transition Free Press

Who other than a madman would launch a new newspaper?

Keith Parkins
Dec 2, 2013 · 7 min read

Who in not only today’s economic climate but in the climate for newsprint, when newspapers are losing money, would launch a new newspaper?

One only has to look at local newspapers.

Lincolnshire Echo, once a daily newspaper, with several editions, culminating in a final evening edition. The final edition had the advantage, it could capture the news, national and evening, that had not been covered by the national dailies, thus an additional reason to buy. Once printed in Lincoln, with offices in Lincoln.

I remember the printing press. If it wasn't 19th century engineering, it gave the impression it was. The ground shook outside the building, let alone in the building. To get an idea, read The Angel’s Game.

It then went to a single morning edition. Old news. No longer based in Lincoln. Now it is a weekly edition, out on a Thursday. Even older news.

Farnborough News published on a Friday, though available from Thursday lunch onwards. Farnborough Mail published on a Tuesday. Rival Surrey-Hants Star, published on a Thursday.

Farnborough News acquired Surrey-Hants Star and destroyed it. Then merged it with The Courier, an appalling waste of trees, that goes straight in the bin. The Farnborough News and Mail, became a weekly paper published on a Thursday, with less content than either, no longer even based locally, and in reality, an imprint of the Surrey Advertiser. The news, so-called, regurgitation of press releases, one reporter, a trainee, allocated to Farnborough, not a clue of the context even when handed an exclusive on a plate.

The on-line content is too often restricted, acting under a delusion this will force purchase of the print edition. Too often the comments section is a sand pit for trolls.

Twitter, local news sites, blogs, are often a better source of local news, and certainly more timely.

A downward spiral, less news, less frequent, less reason to buy, shrinking income, fewer resources for news gathering and quality journalism.

At national level, the situation is little better.

The Times has erected a paywall. This defeats the rationale of a newspaper which is to deliver news. With 80% of even the quality press churnalism, regurgitation of news from elsewhere, and only 12% original reporting, the reader simply goes elsewhere.

In Flat Earth News, journalist Nick Davies reported a study at Cardiff University by Professor Justin Lewis and a team of researchers which found that 80% of the stories in Britain’s quality press were not original and that only 12% of stories were original reporting.

The Guardian and The Independent are losing money, as are many other respected titles worldwide. A few years ago, The Independent was sold for one penny.

It is into this climate Transition Free Press has been launched. A real newspaper, real newsprint, not a digital newspaper, like the recently launched Guardian Australia.

Transition Free Press was launched this year as an experiment, a toe in the water, a pilot of four quarterly issues.

Transition Free Press has proved to at least be sustainable. Whether it will continue into 2014 will depend upon securing funding.

I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn in Farnham, one of their fifty plus distribution hubs.

Why print and distribute a newspaper, with all the risks involved? Why not be like the Huffington Post or Guardian Australia, on-line only?

A newspaper is shareable, and yes, on-line is shareable too. Indeed, I would go further, when you find something interesting on-line, be it Transition Free Press, this article, music, then please share, tweet, re-tweet, recommend.

Transition Free Press is quarterly, it is not transient like a daily newspaper, it contains useful information, thus more likely to be valued, kept for future reference.

So what is in it?

Articles on self-sufficiency, local communities, alternative energy, local economies, carbon reduction, protest, local currencies, sustainability, art, music.

From the Mourning of the World

Serendipity plays a major part in music discovery, and books too. A mention in the summer edition of Transition Free Press led me to From the Mourning of the World, from Dark Mountain, an art and music collective. The amazing cover is painted by Dark Mountain artist Rima Staines. I’d love the original.

What is amazing is that Stroud FM has its own one hour long Transition Show. Or did, it had been running for two years. Early this year, one of these shows was devoted to the launch of Transition Free Press. It was one of the last shows to be aired. Maybe something that could be podcast over the net.

The very first issue, what could be called a pilot for the pilot, came out last year to test the feasibility.

I have read Transition Free Press whilst in The Barn, and have been suitably impressed. Yesterday I found the latest edition, hot off the press.

Transition Free Press — Winter 2013

The front page of the current winter 2013 edition, out now, has a front page lead story on protest. Taking the lead from comments on not voting and the need for revolution from Russell Brand, communities are taking the lead.

The exploration drilling at Balcombe to test the feasibility of fracking, was stopped by mass protest.

Protests took place last week against the Big Six energy companies. Protests that went unreported by the mainstream media, stressing why we need alternative media like Free Transition Press, as the mainstream media is owned by the very companies that are part of the problem.

Activists staged a mass work out at COP19 Climate Talks in Poland last month. The talks had been hijacked by Big Coal, Big Oil, and other big carbon emitters and polluters. The point the activists made with an impromptu press conference outside the talks, was that we can no longer trust politicians, if we want change, we have to take action ourselves.

That is what Transition Heathrow did, they squatted derelict nursery gardens and brought them back into productive use, ran workshops. Even the local police reported they had a positive impact on the local community, with reductions in low level crime.

With the collapse of the Co-op Bank, and the unfolding scandal, whereto ethical banking, and was it so ethical at the Co-op Bank?

Payday loan sharks, are not only screwing those they have got their teeth into, they are draining money out of our poorest communities, communities that should be plugging the leaks and recycling money within the local economy.

An evaluation inspired by the Reconomy Project of the potential to ‘relocalise’ Lambeth’s economy … switching just 10% of the borough’s supermarket food spend to local retailers would release £37 million (and “money spent in independent local businesses can create 2-4 more times as much real value as money spent in chains”), and retrofitting housing stock with solid wall insulation could payback in 15 years and generate £100 million of local employment.

And yet, we see the opposite. The Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, has been practising ethnic cleansing of local businesses in Farnborough and Aldershot. Squandering £1 million on repaving Queensmead will not attract people to Farnborough, any more than wasting £15,000 on a free wifi scam, a scam that will collect personal data, in order that locals can be bombarded with spam e-mail and spam sms text messages. Neither will demolishing the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The local economy will only benefit, when there are local shops and businesses to spend money in, local shops and businesses which then recycle money within the local economy.

The ConDem government, under pressure from the Big Six energy suppliers, are poised to axe or reduce the green and social levies on the Big Six, to reduce their commitment on green measures such as house insulation. Even if these levies were halved, at only 10% of the average bill, it would only see a reduction of 5%. On the other hand, if only 10% was knocked off the 90% of the bill the Big Six are responsible for, this would lead to a 9% cut in bills. The poor will save money if they use less fuel, they will use less fuel, we will all use less fuel, if our homes are better insulated. If we use less carbon-based fuel, we emit less greenhouse gases.

Money paid to the Big Six on fuel bills, is money drained straight out of the local economy. If we insulate, not only do we cut our fuel bills, reduce our greenhouse emission, that is money that is retained within the local economy, money, which if spent with local businesses, is money recycled within the local economy.

Transition Free Press is produced by a not-for-profit collective and supported, although not financed by, the Transition Network. You can help back the paper by signing up for an annual subscription, minimum £15 per year, though you can pay more if you wish.

You can also help, not only by buying a copy from a distribution hub, but chatting to your local indie coffee bar and similar local businesses,and suggesting they too become a distribution hub. It helps them, as they can bulk buy at a discount,and it helps them by bringing people into their coffee bar.

In a coffee bar, having a copy to read, or a pile on display helps. That is how I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn.

If there is not a distribution hub near you, you can find Transition Free Press on-line.

I. M. H. O.

The Editorial Page

    Keith Parkins

    Written by

    Writer, thinker, deep ecologist, social commentator, activist, enjoys music, literature and good food.

    I. M. H. O.

    The Editorial Page

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