Invade the Newspapers
by Austin White
If you want
to spread the message of liberty there are more efficient ways to
do it besides waving Ron Paul signs on an overpass. On-the-ground
grass roots activism is necessary and certainly has its place, but
I would also say that the majority of it is pointless and wastes
time, energy, and money.
it, the goal of your activism should be to reach as many people
as you can with as little effort as possible. If you work, go to
school, or both, you're probably already running on a low tank and
don't have a lot of time and energy left for spreading liberty –
don't waste what's left by spending hours going door-to-door collecting
signatures for some petition that your congressmen's secretary is
just going to use as a beverage coaster. Don't spend hours trying
to reason with some neocon cousin on facebook. None of this accomplishes
anything except draining your batteries.
and getting them published is the most efficient and effective activism
a normal person can do. It takes little time, minimal physical energy,
and requires no money, yet you can realistically reach hundreds
of thousands of people with a single article.
When you write
articles you're also doing something that benefits you personally.
Gradually developing your writing could possibly lead to a new career,
or at least a really cool side job or hobby. Getting published a
few times could lead to getting published often to eventually getting
paid to write. As you develope a portfolio of accomplishments it
will only get easier to market your work. Other people will respect
your opinion more and listen to you. Getting published will boost
your confidence to proceed further. And you're getting full credit
for your labor.
benefitting and getting clear credit for your activism is essential
to avoiding burn out in the long run. Getting paid for your effort
is even better. Writing can accomplish these things.
You don't have
to have a long list of impressive credentials either. A little over
a year ago I got an article
published in the Orlando Sentinel (with a readership, I've heard,
of almost 250,000 people) about why young people should be against
socialized health care. That's right, a pizza delivery guy with
a lousy college attendance record and no academic credentials at
all was able to pull that off.
I spent about
three hours total writing and revising the article, submitted it,
and two weeks later saw my face in the paper next to the article.
The article was actually pretty controversial and led to about a
week-long discussion of my views. The online version had about 100
debating comments under it. One of the Sentinel's staff writers
wrote an article soon after attacking me and then this guy Martin
Kessler wrote a letter
to the editor defending me against the attack. I later found out
that Martin Kessler is an economist who used to work for Ronald
Reagan. Pretty cool.
If I was successful
in converting just 10% of readers, that's 25,000 people. Even if
it was just 1%, that's still 2,500 people. Even if I didn't reach
anybody, it gave me something cool to put on my resume.
You could wake
up more people by getting an article published in some kind of mainstream
publication than you would have doing years' worth of conventional
simple guidelines and you can get published too:
1 – STOP
RANTING ON FACEBOOK.
libertarian could easily crank out an article a week if they put
their Facebook ranting energy into real writing. I've seen so many
regular, average people post amazing philosophical statuses that
could easily have been developed into essays.
When you post
your deep libertarian thoughts on Facebook you're basically flushing
great writing material down the toilet. You have this witty thought
explaining why taxation is evil, you have the urge to express it,
but instead of opening up a word processor and fully fleshing the
thought out you put in on Facebook.
I say you're wasting it is because by posting the thought on Facebook
you've satisfied your urge to express the opinion and you're less
likely to do anything with it again. Your brain checks off that
task and says "all done!" What could have been the opening paragraph
in a ground breaking article is forgotten as just another Facebook
2 – WRITE
ON A CONSISTENT BASIS
off sitting down and writing for thirty minutes a day every day
than not writing anything for a month and then going on a two-day
long writing binge. Writing takes practice just like any other skill
and expecting to just jump in and be great at it will lead to discouragement.
Think of all your writings as nothing more than practice and each
article you write as nothing more than an exercise. If it gets published,
great. If not, oh well it was just practice.
is key. Good musicians don't go three weeks without practicing,
then suddenly pull a twelve-hour practice day, and then take another
two weeks off. They practice a little bit every day and discipline
themselves to stick with their daily practice regimen no matter
For me, one
hour a day is perfect. That's just enough time to really get something
done if I'm on a roll, but if I don't have any juice it's still
a short enough amount of time that I can just power through anyway.
So try to set
aside an hour or less of writing time everyday that's free of distractions.
Unplug the TV, turn off the internet (unless you're looking for
sources to put in your article), and turn off your phone.
If you follow
Guideline #1 and stop ranting on Facebook you'll be surprised to
see how much free time you really have.
3 – KNOW
who the audience is for each article before you write it and think
up publications you can send your work to that would best reach
that audience. If you're trying to inject some libertarianism into
a mainstream newspaper you'll probably have to tone down your rhetoric
and not rant about abolishing the state.
If you're target audience with another article
is anarchists then you won't get very far with "we gotta get back
to the Constitution!"
A lot typical
newspapers have certain sections reserved for young people and regular
middle-class adults to write for. Take advantage of these because
you'll have a lot less competition. The Orlando Sentinel section
I wrote for was called New Voices for people under twenty-five.
Most Americans under twenty-five are morons so get in there!
Find the submission
email for the publication you're trying to get into and email them
once a week. If you're not having any luck then try another publication
and then another. As a last resort you can get your own blog going
at Blogger.com for free and just publish yourself.
newer websites that haven't garnered a lot of attention yet are
usually hungry for original content. Take advantage of them too.
Keep in mind,
however, that some publishers demand exclusive first dibs on your
article and don't want material that you've already offered to others
or put on your own website. Other websites don't care a bit and
will post anything.
4 – REMEMBER,
IT'S JUST PRACTICE
At this moment
I've now spent only three total hours on this article. People might
like it or might not, but I don't care because by writing it period
I've increased my writing skills by 0.08% and my next article will
[send him mail] is a guitar
instructor who really hates government. He blogs at Stop
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