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Agenda Comes Clean

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Agenda Publications
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"There are 8 million stories in the naked city. Here's one of them... " Note: AGENDA first appeared in April, 1986. Next month's issue will be the 20th. The paper is financed through advertising, subscription and donation revenues. 10,000 copies are distributed every month for f ree f rom over 130 locations in the Ann ArborYpsilanti área. Below, one editor takes a stab at explaining what makes AGENDA tick. Why AGENDA? It's hard giving a non-rhetorical answer to a question we've had to ask over and over again. We breathe, sleep, don't sleep AGENDA and it is a more personal question than it might seem at first glance. We started AGENDA in early 1986 because we were frustrated activists. Frustrated because we had a very hard time getting The Ann Arbor News or other media to provide adequate coverage of the issues and events we were concemed with. We also feit the occasional coverage they provided was incomplete, misleading or written with an "angle" in mind. We just got tired of news reports that left out more truth than they told. So we started our own publication to provide an open community forum, filling an obvious joumalistic void in Ann Arbor. We were flooded with material from day one. The one month we were unable to publish (March, 1987), we received so many phone calis begging us to publish this or that article that we were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was a need for AGENDA. It has been AGENDA'S intention to print stories that mainstream news sources don't, to report news that the establishment doesn't see fit to print. In light of this, an unconventional philosophy of publishing prevails. Most of the articles are written by informed and concerned people, not joumalists. As editors, we have worked together with many people, helping them find a voice and focus. Working with such writers is very timeconsuming and demands a level of accessibility that is unheard of in most media. We feel that the philosophy of AGENDA has been encouraged by the community, judging from the amount of time and expertise donated by volunteers. Consequently, the paper continúes to grow and thrive in content and credibility. This has led people to wonder where all of our backing comes from. Surprise! We have no backing. No nifty foundation grants, no rich úneles, and no Swiss bank accounts. But we would rather deprive ourselves of sleep and a normal life than put out a substandard paper. Mind you, we know there are typos and mistakes, but we care how AGENDA looks, reads and basically comes across to the extent that we have printed too many pages for our budget every month (except this one) and spent a lot of time on making the paper look like it is well-to-do. Someday we hope to be paid a decent salary and not have to apologize for not being "committed cnough" to do it for free. After all, no one asks a doctor to treat patients for free. No one asks a mechanic to fix a car for free. Why do people always expect social workers, or teachers, or community organizers to do their work for starvation wages? Lately we feel like we've reached the end of our ability to live in limbo. We have stretched our debts and ourselves to a ridiculous point. The sad state of our financial affairs (see page 12) is something of an embarrassment. Nonetheless, we are proud of what we have accomplished and feel satisfied that if we are forced to close our doors, we'll know we gave AGENDA everything we had. Which is not to say we're going to go down without a fight. We just need more help from the community! It is still too early to teil if we can weather the current money crunch but if AGENDA goes down the tubes we won't be the first. In the '80s alone, two alternative Ann Arbor publications, The Alchemist, and The Altemative Review, stopped publishing due to lack of resources. Why? Perhaps the community didn't understand the amount of funds and effort it takes to publish a paper. After all, it looks like a newspaper takes just a few hours to put together. But as Fred Astaire once said, "When I see myself dancing on film it looks like I'm just standing still." In other words, it's an art to look like what you do takes little effort. I thought about publishing a list of everything we do during a typical month, but it was just too long and boring. Fielding phone calis and doing errands is probably a full-time job itself. If you wonder why we don't just do this as a sideline, we daré you to come by and hang out for a day. There isn't one day in a week that we're not working on the paper. I'm not asking you to feel sorry for us. After all, it's our choice to publish AGENDA, but it would help if people would stop asking what we do for a job besides the paper, eh?! Well, that's my diatribe. There's lots more to say, but as it says in our listing in the Community Resource Directory, we can't afford the space! rmore = - -alternafeive-pres-sampler j