November 7, 2011
The Occupied Washington Post

The Occupied Washington Post (Newseum collection)

Occupied News

WASHINGTON — Occupy Wall Street and other Occupied movements across the country may have been organized through the Web and social networking, but newspapers have been instrumental in getting the groups' message across.

The first edition of The Occupied Washington Post — modeled after New York's The Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Occupy Boston Globe — hit the streets in the nation's capital Nov. 1, 2011. The goal for the free newspaper, which boasts "news from Freedom Plaza and around the occupation world," is to be published weekly.

Unlike other cities, Washington is home to two Occupy D.C. groups, each with its own newspaper and editorial staff. One group, based three blocks from the White House in Freedom Plaza, publishes The Occupied Washington Post. The other group is based nearby in McPherson Square and will soon publish The Occupied Washington Times.

Old-fashioned newspapers in the digital age?

"The newspaper gave us an opportunity to more fully describe what we stand for and what we're doing," said Kevin Zeese, a protest organizer affiliated with the Freedom Plaza group. "We also find that people like to have something in their hands."

Zeese, who said he "doesn't read newspapers" and is a "totally online person," nevertheless finds The Occupied Washington Post a valuable tool with the potential for a wide reach. The newspaper is financed through private donations, printed by professionals experienced in independent newspaper publishing and distributed at subway stops and at Freedom Plaza.

The history of special interest groups publishing their own newspapers began in the 19th century. The trend was especially popular among ethnic and immigrant groups whose primary language was not English, and among minorities who were mostly ignored and ridiculed in white newspapers. The Newseum has an exhibit on the minority press in the News History Gallery.

The first issue of The Occupied Washington Post contained eight pages of commentary, photos and an editorial cartoon. A Page One story headlined "A Movement Too Big to Fail," was penned by author and former New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges. Zeese's article on occupying Freedom Plaza first appeared on Occupy D.C.'s website. He said future print editions would also contain crossword puzzles.

Publishers of The Boston Globe have warned The Occupy Boston Globe about trademark infringement. Zeese said he hasn't heard similar complaints from The Washington Post and added that the Post's name was intentionally chosen.

"We didn't do it to insult them. They have the dominant paper in town. If you're going to pick a dominant newspaper, you pick a national opinion leader like The Washington Post."

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