Letters to Z

More Birthday Wishes 

Sincere congratulations on your 20th anniversary. I have enjoyed reading (and sometimes writing for) Z from issue number one and I look forward to the next 20 years of fine reading. 

 – Bill Nevins
 Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Z Magazine has been a wonderful resource for activists and scholars. I’m personally grateful to Z for publishing one of my first forays into foreign policy reporting back in 1990. 

– John Feffer
Foreign Policy In Focus 

I love this mag. It’s got serious cred, with the likes of Chomsky, Juan Cole, Pilger (the list goes on and on) writing for you. I have a small selection of websites that I go to: ZNet, Informed Comment, the Nation, Truthdig, and Asia Times Online. I want to believe that the U.S. is essentially a good place and that there are people there who are honorable and humane. These sites bear that out. But it’s amazing how places like the U.S., Australia, and the UK can throw up so many conservatives…or am I biased? Thanks again. 

– Warren Brown
Darwin, Australia 

Congratulations to Z Magazine for 20 years of cutting edge independent progressive news and analysis. Keep the flame burning. 

– Betsy Hartmann
Population and Development Program
Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 

Thanks for all those issues with very serious analysis that changed my life and understanding of the world. I have read Z Magazine since the first issue. Bravo and good luck in your venture for, I hope, the next 20 years. 

– Sylvain Beaudet
Anarchist collective
Montreal, Quebec 

I used a lot of information from Z to complete my dissertation on Iraq and I got a 2:1 for my efforts, so thanks a lot. Without you and Media Lens I think the world would be a very one dimensional place. Keep up the great work. 

– Nick Robson
Peterborough, Alberta 

Rebirth to those who made Z Magazine a voice of wisdom and transparency and rebirth to those who read and share the spirit of resistance through Z Magazine and its portrait of daily life and reality, and meet the world there everyday. Happy rebirth to all of you, the Z Magazine writers and readers. 

– Zhaleh Sahand 

Z Magazine has kept me sane and hopeful for 20 years. Here’s to the next 20. 

 – Joel Isaacs 

Happy 20th anniversary and congratulations. Z is very dear to me because it’s a place where I’m reminded of how the world really is and how it really could be, and where I can connect to another world—a world of struggle and possibility. For this I say thank you, thank you, thank you. 

– Marcus Denton
Austin, Texas 

I’d like to extend some birthday wishes. I arrived at Z Media Institute in 2005 very skeptical about the possibility of long-term systemic change, very skeptical of the efficacy of movements to bring that change, and knowing that I was thoroughly disgusted with the sectarian left. On one of the last nights of ZMI, we had this amazing go around where people talked about why they were radical and Mike started off with the single sentence “I want to win.” Then he starts talking and I’m just like, damn, he’s so right, I don’t want to just fight a good fight, I want to win. I want to bring about the future society in all its required totality out of the shell of this world…. So then we had a bunch of people talk, some in tears, some going on for a while, and I remember being so inspired. Anyway, ZMI was the first time I could actually see people’s consciousness being raised, where I could see people getting inspired. ZMI, and everything you all have done for me and for and with our movements since, makes possible that hope, sustains it, and continues to help me to realize it. You mean so much to the lives you touch. I don’t even know how to thank you, save to get ever more serious about fighting, building, and winning. 

Happy Birthday—20 years is quite an achievement, especially in today’s commercial and ideological context. I was just a child when Z started, but the community and spirit of active resistance that Z has created and sustained has made possible my own political awakening and that of thousands more, at a time when the Left has needed it most. Here is to realizing hope and to a long and bright future for Z. We’re going to win. 

– Dave Shukla 

I started reading Z Magazine in the 1980s and I can truly say it was one of the main influences that led me into political activism (antiwar mainly) in Vermont, North Carolina, and France. I think I must be one of thousands with a similar story. Thanks. Your hard work has been and will be influential in ways nobody can quantify, but everybody with any sense can appreciate. 

– Lawrence McGuire 

Congratulations on Z Magazine’s 20th anniversary.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the Z “universe” of activists and critical writers has had a profound impact on my understanding of world issues, economics, workplace democracy, human rights, racism and colonialism, patriarchy, and other dimensions of struggle. But to me Z’s importance has always rested in its willingness to transcend critique and insist on the possibility and necessity of resistance to power, of inspiring hope, of daring to have vision, and of constructing meaningful institutional alternatives consistent with the values and politics we claim to hold dear. Thank you for all your incredible hard work over the last two decades, and for never giving up. 

In solidarity, Paul Burrows
Winnipeg’s Old Market Autonomous Zone 

I only discovered Z a couple of years ago after seeing it referred to so often by the likes of Pilger and Chomsky (whom I’m embarrassed to admit I also only recently discovered). Now I check out Z almost every day of my life. Fantastic work. 

 – John Andrews

Without Z Magazine I might not be the writer or militant that I am today. Happy Birthday and thank you Z for all you’re hard work these 20 years. You have helped to shape generations of radicals committed to social change.  

– Marie Trigona
Buenos Aires, Argentina 

I hope all you have a happy celebration of Z’s 20th year. Z has been especially important to me over the last four years for providing an eclectic but principled space for information and debate to challenge the corporate mainstream. Even brief visits to Europe remind one that such a space is hardly to be taken for granted, with even supposedly progressive media outlets being more and more encroached upon by reactionary, anti-humanitarian arguments and ideology. So as our friends in Central America would say— ¡que cumplen muchos años más! 

– Toni Solo 

Since its first issue Z Magazine has been the source I turn to for on-target cultural and political analysis. I’m not sure how I’d have gotten through the Bush years without it. Here’s to another 20, 40, 60 years of “Hotel Satire” and all my other favorites. 

– Andrea Sargent
Columbia, Maryland 

The Greatest Revolution
Since Gutenberg?

I thoroughly immersed myself in your excellent—spot on—piece opening the January 2008 issue. It was also deeply troubling for me, as both a writer and reader. It’s becoming more and more a familiar lament for those publishers—and writers—on the radical progressive side of the coin. The following thoughts have been running around in my brain since I read—and finished—the January issue yesterday. I am one of those referred to in print surveys as: “…connoisseurs, afficionados, and aging Lud- dites”—proudly holding forth as example of all three honorable descriptors. At 70 years of age: still a voracious reader, aficionado and connoisseur of a well-turned page, as well as affectionately holding forth with my collections of books, magazines and various print and CD downloads from Internet sites such as your own. I’ve been on and off with Z, mainly because of finances, but always in contact online. 

As my finances (a part-time gig) improved, I splurged and sprang for my subscription and three gifts. Hopefully all will enjoy it as much as I and I will continue to offer my small contributions. You pose what are some rather powerful and rational thoughts, which those of you—and all of us, the readership—will be grappling with in the very near future. Personally, it would pain me to see you go to a bi-monthly format; as many hours as I spend online, the Luddite in me—the tactile Luddite—still relishes the feel, smell, and look of holding on to that newspaper, magazine, and book. No amount of technology could ever replace that for me. 

As a writer, no, I would not wish to wait two months to see my work in print. As for paying writers, I’m ambivalent about that; some writers need the financial aspect to stave off the wolf at the door, as it were. However, not all writers need the money. If one is truly committed to the fight, the financial position should be secondary. That is easy for me to say, as one who has derived—except for my paid writings vis-a-vis journalism and a few royalties—very little remuneration for my more radical/progressive efforts. Having said that, by way of explanation, for this writer (at least), it is the message—and its dissemination—that is of the most importance to me. 

It is, after all, our revolution; the publishers, the writers/poets, the artists, and the readers—the purveyors of the message. We already know that the revolution will not be televised—it would be a damnable shame if it wasn’t published. 

– Frank Pitz
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

As a longtime subscriber to Z Magazine I would like to congratulate you on your superb article on coming changes which will seriously affect the world of print media (January 2008 issue). I have not read anywhere such an intelligent, comprehensive, informative, and subtle analysis of the dynamics of the future (or not so future) technological transformation of our reading habits. Good for you. Also let me take this opportunity to thank you for both Chomsky and Herman in this issue. All the best for the future of Z Magazine in whatever form it may take. 

– Vahe A. Tiryakian
New York, New York 

I read with care your intelligent and thoughtful essay on the future of print. An avid reader, I am addicted to paper and would prefer the magazine to continue as a monthly publication. I will do my meager best to become a sustainer. One must pay for what one believes in. 

The message should be more important than the medium, but alas, how we read bears some uneasy relationship to what we read and how deeply we read. Newspaper readers, as one example, come to know that some of the most important facts and nuggets in an article occur at the end. The depth of coverage is not likely to be matched by online reading, especially given the supposedly shorter attention span of most readers. 

Moreover, a written publication can be picked up and read by others, a situation not likely to occur with computers, despite the case of forwarding links. 

Complex technology throttles smaller voices. The consequences of the automobile making life rougher for the horse and buggy were serious enough, but the stifling of minority viewpoints by media titans will have much more dire consequences for democracy. 

The principal responsibility of citizenship lies in casting an informed and serious vote. This is becoming much harder for the average person to do, given the restrictions on the flow of information, in this, the age when we are awash in it. 

Again, I admire more than I can say what you do so selflessly to enrich your readers’ lives. Allow me to add my tardy congratulations on 20 years of Z (once known, as I recall, as Zeta). I have been a subscriber, with a lapse or two, since the beginning. 

– Fred Glienna
South Pasedena, California 

Thank you for your report on the status of Z Maga- zine in your January issue, and for the 20 years of work producing the magazine. I have been a sub- scriber from the start and am always happy when the latest issue arrives in the mail. I think it is very important to continue to produce a printed magazine, if for no other reason than to have it on newsstands and in libraries so that young people and others who don’t know about Z can see it and know it exists. It is also important for supporters to receive something in the mail to bind them to the institution they are supporting. 

I am a research professor at UMass Amherst. Until recently the school put out a small weekly newspaper, the Campus Chronicle, that told everyone what was going on at the school, who was coming to talk, etc. While that information is now on the school’s website, the loss of the paper made me feel more isolated and ignorant about what was occuring at UMass. There are only so many websites one can see on a regular basis. I monitor five, including ZNet. 

Re. support for Z—perhaps readers could develop a network of local Z Clubs that could: 

  • encourage local people to subscribe to
    Z Magazine 
  • have local newsstands carry Z 
  • coordinate transportation to activities promoted in
  • publicize local activities related to Z’s mission 
  • request and/or raise money for local library subscriptions (municipal, high school, college) 
  • have local discussions on Z’s content 
  • have fundraisers for

That might contribute to building the local infrastructure you mentioned and also expand the Z mission among underrepresented people. 

– Michael Nolan
Belchertown, Massachusetts 

After sharing somewhat in the exultation over the new website, I was saddened to read in the January Z that the future of the print magazine is still in such doubt. I’ve found Z Magazine to be an invaluable intellectual and political resource and one that played a tremendous role in helping build my confidence as a writer. It would be incomparably sad to see it go the way of so many other left institutions that have succumbed to the horrendous pressures of the Bush era. 

ZNet is tremendously important, of course, as well, and clearly has a much larger audience, but it doesn’t fulfill the same role. The magazine needs to continue to stand on its own as a serious journal of reportage and opinion, and not go the way, for example, of Don Fitz’s Synthesis/Regeneration, which is now mainly a digest of previously Internet-posted material. 

Sure, I’m one of those old Luddites who nostalgically cling to print media in a time when a whole generation is writing it off as passé. But there are reasons we do this. Web posted articles are ephemeral. On a good, active site like ZNet their visibility changes with every passing day. They have to be short, snappy, and get the point across before more than a few screens of text scroll by. 

There’s a vital role for this kind of commentary. But who will make time for articles on the web that require long-term research and in-depth analysis? How will such materials ever compete with the latest electronic sound bites? I know these outlets don’t generate much income, but I’m sure people still discover Z Magazine in bookstores and in libraries. What will take its place there? 

I know a lot rests on the various web-based projects continuing to subsidize the magazine and maybe the magazine won’t be the best use of those funds for an indefinite period of time. But I hope Z will survive along with all its outstanding kindred projects. No one, I believe, views online materials as viable substitutes for other “institutions” of (moderately) left-leaning publishing, like Harper’s and the Nation. Z Magazine should continue to be at least as invaluable as those much better-funded projects. Thanks for all your great work. 

– Brian Tokar 

Just a quick response to your wonderfully written and informative article. I am a 50-year-old, semi-techno- savy citizen that shares the political and intellectual interests that make Z Magazine one of the few publications that I look forward to on a monthly basis. I utilize the Internet to access various kinds of information, as well as to express my opinions on different forums, but I still savor a printed publication that I can hold and read at will. Of all of the different options that you indicated the staff of Z might be considering in an effort to remain viable, the one that I find least offensive, and quite possibly most intriguing, is the suggestion of printing a quarterly journal with specific themes. Of course, I really enjoy the monthly format that you publish at present, but in order to keep Z alive I would accept a quarterly journal with the same perspective and depth that your magazine provides. Please keep up the good work, and congratulations on your 20th. 

– Rocky Bennett
Belen, New Mexico