Yesterday afternoon I had one of the most moving experiences in my time here as editor. It was on a conference call with readers and friends committed to helping The Nation deal with the “Great Postal Crisis of 2007.”
Let me backtrack for a moment. In these last weeks, the response from thousands of people to our plea for help as we face this crisis has been nothing short of astonishing. When we turned to our loyal readers and friends, we expected your contributions to help just a little to pay the $500,000 increase in our annual postage bill. (NOTE: This blog was updated May 22, 2008, to correct an error. I originally referred to our $500,000 postage bill.) But your overwhelming response has humbled us–and it has also emboldened us in our fight to overcome this corporate-driven, Time-Warner drafted, unfair and anti-democratic rate increase.
On Wednesday afternoon, Teresa Stack, John Nichols, Bob McChesney and I “met” with 100 of you on an hour-long conference call–to discuss our thoughts and plans, hear your questions and ideas, and thank you in person. There was a powerful sense of community–of allies and supporters who understand how important it is to invest in a strong, free, independent and truth-telling media. The questions that poured in were savvy, on-target and revealed how informed all of you are about the threat facing small, independent media. Your calls flooded in from across the country–from Illinois and Florida, to California and North Carolina. (There was even a call from Nova Scotia.) A caller from Northern Georgia identified herself as “a member of an oppressed minority” –a liberal in one of the reddest of red states. “Keep sending us courage,” she implored. “Tell us what to do. Not everyone wants more Time-Warner!”
McChesney outlined our legislative strategy–explaining that we hope by the Fall to have draft legislation around which we will mobilize a massive grassroots campaign. He spoke of his cautious optimism–“we can win this” with the right allies in Congress and organized people overtaking organized money. But, we also leveled with our friends and readers on the call, explaining that we will undoubtedly face a difficult transition in this next year or more–a period when it will be crucial to have the resources and stability to mount an effective challenge to overturn these rates and rules and to counter the power of high priced lobbyists and corporate power.
Teresa spoke of the coalition she has worked to put together–a transpartisan group of about two dozen political and cultural magazines, of the left and the right, religious and secular, (National Review, American Conservative, Weekly Standard, Mother Jones, Commonweal, The Progressive, Christian Science Monitor, American Prospect). She laid out how these small publications are working together to mobilize our combined readership to petition congress and the postal authorities, to get mainstream media coverage on this issue, and to work with the public interest group Free Press for legislative relief for this class of magazines.