A little over a year ago, on a crisp October day at Dewey Square in downtown Boston, the Boston Occupier was formed as an answer to inaccurate media coverage of the Occupy Movement and the need to separate news from propaganda .
Even though we started out at Dewey Square, it quickly became clear that to enable ourselves to be accurate, fair, and critical in our reporting, we needed to maintain a degree of independence from Occupy Boston. This caused confusion for some. Many asked, Why were we there? What was our purpose? And if we were in support of Occupy Boston, then why did we not identify ourselves as an Occupy Boston Working Group?
An organizer at one of our earliest meetings at South Station stated the conviction that if we did not train a critical eye on what we, as the Occupy movement, were doing, we would likely be doomed to repeat mistakes over and over again. This was reason enough to ensure that our newspaper worked to remain ideologically supportive but separate from Occupy.
Since our days in Dewey Square and meeting at empty tables in South Station, we have gained footing as a solid independent news source expanding from solely Occupy related articles to cover a variety of grassroots movements, social justice issues, and local, national, and international events. We have also cultivated strong editorials and thought-provoking cartoons.
From the start, those of us who helped form the newspaper knew it was going to be a long, hard road. Our decision not to be an Occupy Boston working group was not taken well by some Occupy Boston organizers. Also, in not being a working group, our newspaper was ineligible to receive funds that had been raised by Occupy Boston.
Even though our finances looked grim at first, the Boston Occupier was able to raise its initial funds through a successful Kickstarter campaign. We raised over $8,000, and our first issue was printed shortly thereafter.
Even as our one-year anniversary arrives, we know that the journey towards a popular journalism for the 99% is truly just beginning
Since our initial fundraising, we have worked steadily to find new sources of support for our print edition, relying on the generosity of our subscribers and the ingenuity of our editorial staff to come up with new ways to stay afloat.
We have learned to work without an office, though not without difficulty– doing the bulk of our editorial processes through emails. Meetings in the expansive, echoing hall of South Station’s main terminal gave way to a series of food courts, coffee shops, and patios around Boston and Cambridge. By finding balance between long-term commitment to volunteer journalism and our daily lives as teachers, students, service workers, artists, and activists, we have come together to develop ourselves into a respectable team of writers, editors, and photographers.
Since the destruction of the Dewey Square Occupy Boston camp, distribution has been harder than ever– with the bulk of distribution responsibilities falling to roughly a dozen people, most of whom are the Boston Occupier’s editors and writers, though we are helped by a smattering of other volunteers. We have had to cut back dramatically on our issue runs: initially printing 20,000 copies, we are now down to 7,000, largely because we do not have the people-power necessary to distribute more.
The results of our efforts can be seen clearly.
Our website’s popularity continues to grow, all thanks to the tireless reporting and commenting of our contributing writers. Our print edition now reaches much of North and South Shores of Eastern Massachusetts, with thousands of our papers regularly reaching the citizens of Boston, Quincy, Lowell, Salem, Fall River, Randolph Newburyport and Falmouth. Our list of subscribers continues to grow with some as far away as California, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Florida.
But more importantly, we have grown as a news outlet. Unsurprisingly, the blind-spots and biases found in our major local news organizations—such as the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe—did not disappear when the police hauled off the tents from Dewey Square. On the contrary, this election year has shown us how willing our mainstream news outlets are to marginalize crucial issues in favor of the agenda of the two-party political system. Ask someone who’s worried about climate change if the media has given proper space to that issue lately, or our country’s multiple wars in the Middle East.
Here at the Occupier, we strive to provide you with the best news money can’t buy. We report on organizations, actions, and issues that major media outlets would rather gloss over. We offer commentary that challenges the limits of mainstream discourse as well as analysis unconstrained by the mainstream media’s false dogma of “balance.”
We Need Your Help!
Looking to the future, we at the Boston Occupier are increasingly aware that to survive and to continue growing as an independent, activist-centered media source, we need readers like you to become involved in the paper. Whatever it is that you can give to this effort—ideas, writing, a story tip, artwork, funding, a meeting space, making deliveries along a paper route—we want to work with you!
Even as our one-year anniversary arrives, we know that the journey towards a popular journalism for the 99% is truly just beginning, and we know that bringing this news to the people remains a pressing need. We are have come to recognize that we need to work in new ways if we want to grow as both a news source and a healthy, sustainable volunteer organization. But no matter what happens going forward into 2013, whatever challenges lie ahead, we have already accomplished more than any of us ever thought possible.
The Editorial Staff of the Boston Occupier
Please accept our open invitation to volunteer with the Boston Occupier! We need your help! If you are interested in becoming part of the Boston Occupier and helping to keep an independent news source growing, please email us at [email protected]