January 2001 - EAT THE STATE!
EAT THE STATE! is an anti-profit, anti-corporate state Seattle community newspaper, collectively run by volunteers. We’re distributed free around Western Washington in print and around the world through e-mail and our web site . Our editorial box pretty much sums it up:
“EAT THE STATE! is a shamelessly biased political journal. We want an end to poverty, exploitation, imperialism, militarism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, environmental destruction, television, and large ugly buildings, and we want it fucking now. We are not affiliated with any political group or party. We publish EAT THE STATE! as a…way of sharing information, resources, opinions, and hopefully inspiring ACTION in our community.”
ETS! was started as a DIY adventure in media activism in 1996 by Geov Parrish, a former DJ, punk rock singer, zine publisher, and long-time peace and social justice activist. “I wanted something well-documented but livelier, more frequent, more local, angrier, and more relevant than the newsletters and media usually produced by grass roots activists,” he says.
“We’re so saturated 24/7 with propaganda from the people who are screwing us over that it’s essential we all learn how to find and use our own voices. That’s why we take the time and expense to distribute ETS! free around town, rather than just on the Net. It’s important for people who wouldn’t normally seek out a paper like ETS! to see that something like us can thrive.”
When Geov, Lance Scott, and John Reese published the first weekly four-page newsletter in Sept. 1996, photocopying 1,000 to distribute around town, the response was immediate and overwhelming. ETS! quickly added writers and other volunteers. Maria Tomchick became a Co-Editor. Within months, there was a weekly radio program (which still airs, Saturday mornings 8:30-9 AM PLT on Seattle’s KCMU 90.3 FM ); a doubling of pages and print run; and Geov was offered a weekly political column in the alternative Seattle weekly The Stranger. (He has since moved on to the larger, more mainstream Seattle Weekly , with an estimated 300,000 readers a week. He is one of the only publicly anarchist political columnists in mainstream media in the country, a soapbox made possibly only by ETS!.) By 1998, ETS! had again doubled in size, moving to newsprint.
ETS! tries to bring politics home; we write for a non-activist audience, combine local with national and international news and media analysis, and heap ridicule upon deserving policies. It’s remarkable, given who we are, but ETS! is well-read within Seattle’s halls of power. In our 200+ issues, we’ve covered everything from local school district outrages to the Taliban; helped swing elections; promoted all manner of underreported stories and citizen activism; explored police abuses, environmental degradations, and political corruption; publicized thousands of radical protests, meetings, benefit concerts, and the like; worked with Seattle’s groundbreaking Independent Media Center ; and, of course, spent months helping lay the groundwork for Seattle’s historic anti-WTO protests. And lots more.
The volunteer “staff” of ETS! currently includes Troy Skeels, Maria, and Geov (editors); Lance (layout); Eddie Tews (production & distribution); and Valerie Jean Rose (activist calendar & organizing benefits). Some well-known folks (Tom Tomorrow, Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair, John Jonik, Russell Mokhiber & Robert Weissman, Roberta Gregory, and others) donate their stuff for free, but the heart of our content comes from non-professional, volunteer writers, cartoonists, photographers, and activists. Like you. Lots of folks help out; contact us ([email protected]) if you want to, too!
The lesson: it’s possible for opinionated media activists to make a difference, in our community and in the world. We’re not that special; an ETS!-type project could be happening in every city or town, neighborhood or school, holding our community officials, employers, and teachers to the same standards of fairness that activists demand of transnationals or Presidents. We’ve inspired similar papers in some other cities, and we’re always happy to help share our experiences and (limited) expertise in helping other folks to get a media project started.
For five years, we’ve lived a hand-to-mouth existence, often literally raising the funds (through subscriptions, donations, benefits, and ads from community groups and progressive local businesses) from one issue to the next. We’re totally impoverished, but so far we’ve always seemed to find a way to print, because there are a lot of people who want, need, and enjoy political news and opinions with no bullshit!
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
We oppose them.
— EAT THE STATE!