WAKE UP!! It's yer sort-of-weekly...
The free weekly direct action newsheet published in Brighton since 1994 - Copyleft - Information for Action
SchNEWS was born in a squatted Courthouse in Brighton in 1994 as part of Justice? - Brighton's campaign against the Criminal Justice Act. A few bright sparks decided to start reading out the news. Some of those bright sparks then decided to put some of it on paper - nearly ten years later and we're still printing! From the anti road protests at the M11 in London to the Newbury Bypass to the big Reclaim The Streets events of the nineties SchNEWS was there. From worker's struggles such as the Liverpool Dockers, fights against privatisation of public services to reporting on social centres and sustainable futures - week in week out SchNEWS reported the news from the direct action frontlines.
Then in February 1998 some of the crew went to Geneva to the first ever Peoples' Global Action conference. Here we met people involved in grassroots movements from across the world, swapped stories, made friendships and began to see the bigger picture, and with many others who had been involved in localised direct action campaigns, our attention now turned to also attacking the corporate carve-up of the entire planet while supporting the diverse small-scale alternatives. The first signs of this new shift was in May 1998 when mass demonstrations were held world-wide simultaneously against the G7 Summit in Birmingham, then again on June 18th 1999 (J18). But it was the mass protests against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 that really brought this 'movement' to the world's attention. It's impossible to know how many people read SchNEWS every week, particularly now with the internet. Out of the 2,000 that get printed (more for big festies and demos) 650 get posted out each week to everyone from subscribers to bookshops to around 50 prisoners around the world who get it each week for free. Add to that over 11,500 email subscribers, many of whom get it as a PDF* file (so it looks exactly like the real thing). While many photocopy and distribute their paper copy locally, PDF files allow people all over the world to print out SchNEWS, and distribute it, before it's even hit the streets in Brighton! We often hear from people who print out PDFs and distribute each week - at infoshops or wholefood shops, on campuses and out on the streets, all over the world. Added to that popular sites like Urban 75 mirror SchNEWS each week, while A-Infos news service email it out internationally to subscribers, and the odd issue gets translated into other languages - someone even put a SchNEWS site out in Russian at one stage! So as well as the sixteen thousand or so who visit the SchNEWS site each week, it is hard to work out how many we reach altogether, especially after we've added an RSS Feed, allowing people to read SchNEWS via news aggregators.
Our Party and Protest section is the most popular feature on our website, updated every week with a mishmash of festival dates, meetings and demos as well as a section on where to go if you want to find out radical contact points around the country. Our DIY guide has useful tips on everything from setting up your own newsletter to making your own bio-diesel. We also try to continually update our contacts list - currently listing over 800 useful grassroots organisations.
SO WHO FUNDS ALL THIS ?
SchNEWS is run on a voluntary basis - no one gets paid. Tho' we do manage to blag free into gigs and festivals (to spread the word of course) and when our treasurer's not looking, raid the petty cash tin for biscuit money. Our stories originate anywhere from anarchist literature to the dodgy Financial Times (no, really), from conversations in the pub to the internet. While we always try to be as accurate as possible and chase people up to verify the stories, the idea behind SchNEWS is not to believe the printed word, but to get up off yer arse and go and see for yourself. So articles are often first hand accounts from trusted sources or ourselves as we storm all over the country causing trouble/saving the world/having a laugh.
As for who keeps us going... Well, since our office rent was introduced we reckon to be spending around £24,000 a year on rent, printing, stamps, telephone, computers, envelopes, stationary, e-mail accounts, (biscuits)... we rely entirely on subscriptions, benefit gigs and our readers' generosity to keep us afloat.
Finally, SchNEWS is an open collective, we are always looking for new people to get involved. So if you like reading the news the mainstream tends to ignore (or at best turns into a crap lifestyle feature, rather than why an action is going on) take a look in the next column and see if anything grabs your fancy.
WAKE UP! WAKE UP! - IT'S YER TYPICAL SchNEWS WEEK...
And there's more: During the week the subscription database is constantly being updated, letters answered, book orders posted, journalist queries answered and the next SchNEWS book being sorted. Still interested? Then give the office a call. We have regular training days, but if you can't wait for them, give the office a ring now on 01273 685913. Don't let the fact that SchNEWS comes out every week lull you into a false sense of security! We constantly need more people to get involved. We guestimate SchNEWS reaches around 50,000 people a week.
Not bad for a scrappy no-adverts no-compromise bit of A4, eh?
Last updated August 2006
* PDF file - Portable Document Format, a file format which allows all types of computers to reproduce an article in a graphics layout. To view and print these files you need Adobe Acrobat (free to get off the internet) or other PDF viewers. To subscribe to SchNEWS for free either as 'PDF' or normal plain text file click here.
** Can you make out a standing order to help with paying our rent or just want to bung us a fiver towards this weeks printing costs? Find out how by going to: www.schnews.org.uk/extras/help.htm