The USSF Writers Network is part of the Communications Working Group for the US Social Forum. We will work to help raise public awareness about the USSF and the issues it addresses among the many diverse groups that make up our country. We aim to:
- broaden participation in the USSF, particularly among groups most excluded from mainstream politics,
- expand networks among diverse media practitioners in a collaborative effort to disseminate information and stories about the USSF,
- inform members and the public about the US Social Forum and the larger World Social Forum process (See USSF Resources Page), and
- increase awareness and understandings of the global movement of which the USSF is part.
"Let’s make a network of communication among all our struggles and resistances. An intercontinental network of alternative communication against neoliberalism… (and) for humanity. This intercontinental network of alternative communication will weave the channels so that words may travel all the roads that resist… (It) will be the medium by which distinct resistances communicate with one another. This intercontinental network of alternative communication is not an organizing structure, nor has a central head or decision maker, nor does it have a central command or hierarchies. We are the network, all of us who speak and listen." --Subcomandante Marcos
Who we are:
- Writers (amateur and professional)
- Visual artists
- Sociologists without Borders
- Regular Folks
We are responding to and helping build a custom term paper movement for social justice in the United States and to support the World Social Forum process. Our aim is to help the exploited, excluded, downtrodden, hopeless, underpaid, overworked, unemployed--and all those who need hope—see that Another World is Possible. The U.S. Social Forum is a way we can, together, make that world a reality.
What do I do?
By committing just a few hours per month, you can be a part of our historic effort to build the movement for social justice in the U.S.
Participants in the Writers Network commit to do the following actions in support of the USSF:
- Write at least one essay, op-ed, news analysis, or other piece per month for general audience news sources to help educate the wider U.S. public about the USSF, the people it involves, and/or the issues it addresses; and/or
- Write at least three analyses, poems, opinion pieces, announcements, etc. in specialized publications targeting particular audiences of activists, community gruops, professionals, or other publics who should know about the USSF and/or who can contribute to the work of the USSF; &
- Following the USSF, write and speak to inform the U.S. public about the USSF's discussions ideas for advancing the goals of social movement cooperation and progressive social change in this country; &
- Encourage friends and colleagues to make financial contributions to support the USSF. The costs of this meeting are high, and organizers also seek to raise money to increase participation from low-income activists. Costs will be met through registration fees, donations, and corporate or foundation grants; &/or
- Speak to journalists and/or activists in participants’ own communities about the USSF and encourage local participation in and/or media coverage of the forum;
- Be creative in using Social Media to spread the word about the USSF.
Writers Network members will receive regular updates on relevant developments in USSF planning, ideas for stories, and suggestions for finding publication outlets for material.
How do I join?
Subscribe to the mailing list by going to https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/writers_network
Once you are subscribed, you'll receive bi-weekly messages with updates and suggestions for timely articles or essays on the USSF process. We'll also include any additional suggestions we hear for getting your writing out into the world. This list is an announcement list only, so there won't be more than 2-4 messages per month. If you'd like to send information that you wish to have made available to the network, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Encourage others to join the network by spreading the Call for Participation
Here are some tips on how to pitch your articles to local media outlets
- Contact your institution’s office of media relations, vice president for news, or any other public relations body. They will have contact information for opinion page editors at local newspapers and magazines. They can also be quite helpful in trying to place opinion pieces by faculty members to larger media organizations.
- Media strategy suggestions from Eric Brown, Communications Director, Center for a New American Dream http://www.timeday.org/book-appendix-c.asp
- The Progressive Media Project accepts and edits commentaries from activist, advocates or other specialists and distributes them via the McClatchy-Tribune News Service to leading metropolitan newspapers around the country. You can find the submission guidelines at: http://progressive.org/pmp_submit
- Keyword searches on Google News, Lexis/Nexis or other news databases will allow you to search for major newspapers or publications in particular states that have featured articles or topics similar to yours in the past. Once you find print or electronic publications that seem likely to run your piece, you can find the opinion editor’s contact information from the publication’s Web site and write directly to that person.
- Google Alerts will help keep you up to date with news of interest to you.
- The following links contain useful guidelines for writing opinion pieces and pitching them to the media:
- After submitting your article to the USSF Writers’ Network website, contact only one other media outlet at a time to avoid multiple publications. If a particular outlet rejects your piece, then you may send it to another publication.
Write like the media
Scan the publications or Web sites you would like to target and see how their pieces are written. You don’t have to compromise your own writing style or content, but an editor will be more inclined to feature your article if you emulate the publication’s general writing style. Most journalistic writing, including opinion pieces, aim to be clear, concise and to the point. Paragraphs are short, usually no more than three sentences. Active voice is always best. Keep in mind that articles for the Web tend to be shorter than those written for print publications.
- Surf the Web. With some internet searching, you can find submission guidelines to various progressive media Web sites. Here are a few to start with and the links to their submission guidelines:
- The Progressive Media Project: http://progressive.org/pmp_submit
- Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/faqs/
- Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/writer-guidelines
- CommonDreams.org: http://www.commondreams.org/submissions.htm
- TomPaine.com: http://www.tompaine.com/contact
- Independent Media Center: http://indymedia.org/en/index.shtml (click the ‘PUBLISH’ link and follow directions)
- Follow-up is important. Newspapers receive hundreds of submissions every day, and Web sites probably receive much more. Personal follow-up is important to distinguish yourself and your work from the masses. If you submit to a print publication, follow-up with a phone call rather than an e-mail. The same is true for Web sites if you can find the editor’s phone number on the site. Otherwise, send an e-mail. Follow-up strategies vary. Once you start doing it, you will find what works best for you.
- Track your stories. Publications, especially Web sites, don’t always let you know that they have published your article. It is important to keep checking the papers and sites to see if your story pops up. When it does, report back to us with the name of the publication or Web site, the date it ran your story (if it’s a print publication), and any other relevant information.
- It’s who you know. If you have or make any contacts or connections to editors or writers at progressive media publications, talk to them. Talk to them a lot. Tell them about the USSF Writers’ Network. Ask if they are interested in more articles by our writers. Perhaps they would like to publish one every week. Perhaps more. Finally, tell us about any connections you have made.
Report your successes
- As soon as your piece is published, please send it (or a link to it) to email@example.com . Tell us the details: who printed your piece, date of publication, and web site address of your article if it appears online. We will keep a record of sources that have featured pieces from our Writers’ Network and when.
- If you find any publications that seem likely to publish other pieces from our Writers’ Network or other media outlets that accept submissions, let us know so we can share the information with the other writers.
Resources, Background Information, and Important Updates
For the latest news and updates, see: USSF Updates