A resolution on a proposal for a new regular Counterfire Paper passed at Counterfire National Conference 2015
- The clear evidence of political radicalization from last summer onwards, running from the Gaza protests, through the Scottish referendum campaign, the “Green surge” and most recently the election of Syriza in Greece.
- This radicalization has impacted directly on Counterfire, with new members, new local groups, and monthly website hits rising very rapidly, reaching more than 70,000 over January this year.
- That Counterfire has produced an irregular broadsheet, often scheduled around demonstrations, for use as a public face of the organization.
- That the costs of producing newsprint quality newspapers has declined rapidly in recent years. 15,000 copies of a full colour 8-page tabloid format paper can be printed for around £860.
- Paid-for newspapers are in steep decline, with annual circulation figures falling consistently for the last decade. Free newspapers, however, are booming, as the relaunch of London’s Evening Standard and the success of City AM now demonstrate.
- That it has been advisable for Counterfire to avoid the trap of producing a paid-for newspaper, given the general decline of the paid-for press and the particular problem of an over-supply of paid-for print on the left.
- That, nonetheless, it has proved useful in the past have the broadsheet as an easily-identifiable reference point for Counterfire on demonstrations at public events, and that this has had some success in communicating our politics to a wider audience than the website alone.
- That the impressive circulation of free newspapers and the relative ease with which it is possible to distribute a free paper (with no requirement to collect money) make it a viable way to reach a large audience, rapidly. This will be particularly useful on demonstrations and other public events.
- The sharp fall in the cost of printing has put the production of a high-quality newspaper within grasp of even smaller organizations, with some funding raised elsewhere.
- That the costs of printing are only one part of the challenge, and producing a regular free newspaper would impose new organizational demands on Counterfire, in collecting and editing articles, designing the paper and then, most importantly, ensuring its distribution across the country. This is (as Lenin and others argued) precisely one of the good reasons for launching a regular paper, since it raises the level of organization needed.
That the steering committee establish a working group to launch a free Counterfire newspaper ahead of the general election, with a view to publishing it monthly as soon as practicable.
- That this working group establish a clear timetable for regular publication, and ensure that distribution can happen quickly and as cheaply as possible.
- That the paper is free, and distributed as a widely as possible where we think a radicalized audience will be open to our politics. This will include contacts from the movements, demonstrations, public meetings, and other events, and potential extend to public distribution (for instance at public transport hubs).
- That the treasurer work with others to draw up a credible and imaginative fund-raising plan, including the use of a Kickstarter video, with the aim of raising at least four months’ worth of funding in the first instance.
- That local Counterfire groups draw up their own plans for distributing the newspaper, and elect or appoint from amongst themselves a local organizer for the paper.
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