Skip to comments.How to start and publish an independent Newspaper
Posted on 09/21/2003 4:12:17 PM PDT by Chad Fairbanks
How To Start An Independent Newspaper
First off, let me be blunt: The last time I was involved in anything like this, was during the 1980s when I helped create and distribute a newsletter a cheap little paper printed by a friend at a local print shop in the middle of the night, and distributed by hand in school during the day.
As such, I am posting this article from a perspective having a distinct lack of experience, in order to spark discussions, to learn from others more experienced than I, and to hopefully spark some creative ideas, solutions, and information from other FReepers.
So, without further ado, allow me to lay out some ideas, concepts, and such in order to begin the discussion.
What is an Alternative newspaper?
An Alternative Newspaper is a newspaper that provides news, opinions, or information that one would usually not find in the many mainstream daily newspapers which are published in cities and towns across the country. The term Alternative, is a word in modern parlance that is now devoid of any true meaning. What was once considered alternative is now part of the mainstream culture. For our purposes, the word alternative means something that is different than the mainstream liberal publications, as it pertains to print media.
Why would I want to start one?
Have you ever been at a bus top, subway station, or a music store, and seen free, independent alternative newspapers sitting in racks? Have you ever noticed how often they are left-wing publications? Other than being more extreme, they are often not all that different from the mainstream newspapers. Wouldnt you like to see one that espouses a conservative viewpoint for a change? Well, thats not going to happen by itself. Someone needs to step up to the plate and get involved.
You may love to write, or perhaps you want an outlet for other creative ideas, such as cartooning. Perhaps you are tired of the local mainstream daily newspaper ignoring stories of local importance, or covering it with an obvious bias?
The simple answer is simply, Why not?
What should I do first?
Plan, plan, and plan some more. Creating, publishing, and distributing a newspaper is not any easy job. You must create a plan that will help you determine your goals, what you hope to accomplish, and how you are going to achieve what you set out to do. Much like a Business Plan not only will this plan help to keep you on track, it may also help to secure funding.
Find a group of like-minded people in your area to help you. As you begin to plan, determine what skills they have, in order to determine what their responsibilities and duties will be. Each person will bring unique abilities to the table, and you must find a way to tap into those strengths.
What will your paper be called? What will its focus be? How often will you publish? How will you fund the publishing and distribution? How will you distribute it?
All these question, and many more, will need to be answered in your plan.
How will I pay for it?
Without a secure reliable source of revenue, you will never get your paper off the ground. The best plan in the world will not help you, if you are unable to implement it. So, how would you go about securing the funding necessary to launch your newspaper? There are many ways, and how you go about it may be different than how others do. You may choose to raise money through bake sales, or by approaching small businesses in your area to run ads. You may secure grants through sympathetic foundations or organizations, through donations from private individuals, or by paid subscriptions from readers.
How you intend to fund the venture should be a major part of your plan.
How will I publish my newspaper?
How you choose to print and publish your newspaper is important. Anyone can run to Kinkos and run off 100 copies of a piece of paper. Actually publishing a newspaper, on the other hand, requires a little more work and planning.
One option is to approach a small local newspaper, and pay for a printing job. Many small newspapers perform third-party printing work in order to make extra money. You will be required, usually, to provide a camera-ready work for them to print. There are some software packages that can assist you in preparing a camera-ready work. An example would be Quark XPress, which can provide camera-ready artwork in PDF format.
How you prepare your newspaper copy will be determined by your printer. Many will have specific requirements, and when choosing a printer it is important to determine what their requirements are and whether you are able to meet those requirements.
How will I distribute my newspaper?
The manner in which you distribute your newspaper will again vary, depending on your needs, circumstances, and locality. You may be able to negotiate a deal by becoming an insert within another published paper. Another option would be to pay for placement through a company in your area that provides this type of service. The next time you are in a supermarket, or at a bus stop and you see the newspaper racks, check it out and find the information about the company that provides the racks and the space. Contact them and find out about placement for your paper.
Another option would be mail-order, home delivery, or you and some friends could hand them out to passers-by at a local shopping center.
When distributing, be creative. The more you distribute, the more people you will reach with your message.
A word of warning: Liberals, being intolerant as they are, have been know to steal and destroy as many copies of conservative papers as they can get their hands on. Depending on your area, you may need to take this type of activity into account. Secondly, they have also been known to slip inserts into other newspapers. Again, this may be something you need to watch for.
What are the legal issues involved?
This is a good question one that I have relatively few answers for. The obvious one, which revolve around Libel, is something that I hope any lawyers here can answer. Other issues may include incorporating, LLCs, etc. which vary from locale to locale.
This is an ongoing work in progress, and is in no way complete.
For instance, who will be the bulk of the audience? Which socio-economic group? Will the paper fill a niche in the community, or will be a broad-based news media outlet?
Another thing to consider will be: how are you going to get writers for the paper? College students on a per-word basis, interns, or community members who submit articles on consignment?
Another issue: will the paper be a free paper, dependent on the advertising rates to pay for the costs, or will subscribers/fee pay cover part of the costs? Also, will there be more than one form of the paper (such as online)? Will this be subscription or a freebie?
Finally, How can you generate enough venture capital to invest in the startup costs of the paper? Investors, private donations from charity gropus, or another method? This should be in the business plan.
Finally, for the liberal freaks who steal papers in an effort to prevent the news from being disseminated, there are laws on the books for this form of misbehavior. I know they vary from state to state, but I think it comes down to the cost of the paper per issue for determining the level of the theft charge. I'll have to check further for information.