Whatever your political views, you have to admit that the Fake New York Times that was released in the wild this week was pretty brilliant transmedia political commentary. For me, the fake paper and website — while also very entertaining — is the perfect example of how a holistic political activist agenda can be made concrete and inspiring.
My understanding from talking with people who were tertiarily
involved with the planning of this project was that they intended for
it to show what is possible if people got off their collective asses
and actually organized and put pressure on their own government for
change. They could have easily just did a fake newspaper on "United
Nations Declares Peace on Earth" and "Obama Makes Racism is a Thing of
Instead they have headlines along the lines of: "Popular Pressure Ushers Recent Progressive Tilt" and "Times Reporter to Embed with Peace Groups." Several articles write
about how it was particular non-profits, activist organizations and
popular movements that caused the particular political change — real
groups, not made-up ones. And the "fine print"
on page 2 lists a number of those actual groups from a range of
interests and sectors, from LGBTQ to climate change to anti-war groups.
Some political groups spend most of the time agitating about all the things that they are against — the war in Iraq, logging in the Northwest, draconian drug laws. Others seem to focus on addressing the effects of larger unjust and pervasive systems without attacking the root causes. Some groups seems to have a wonderful vision of the world they want to live in, but no clear path on how they are going to act to make that world real. (I’ve certainly been involved with my share of groups like all of these.)
So really this is what all political change groups should be creating for
themselves — a newspaper of the future, forecasting what the world
would look like in five, ten, twenty years if they were to achieve
their aims, and then chart what it would take to get there. I.e.
something like this chart in the Fake New York Times:
And personally, you can do this for your own life as an activist and an organizer. What is the change that I want to see happen, what would the world look like if that change were to be implemented, and what steps can I take over the next year / 5 years / 10 years to get the world closer to that?
Maybe we all should create our own Fake New York Times. Maybe what we need is a web app that lets anyone write their own versions of a July 4, 2009 newspaper, and share those with each other. I love seeing other people’s visions of a more sane, more just, more peaceful world.