The Weekly News was formed over a group breakfast on a Saturday morning on Southeast Street in Amherst, MA in January 1989. George Bush had just been inaugurated as President after eight long years of Reagan. We had been discussing the samizdat movement in the Soviet Union where the activists hand copied articles or typed them with carbon paper to reproduce them person to person. Doing this could get you in a lot of trouble but there was no way to get news the state didn’t want you to hear out any other way. We decided we were going to try to do something like that ourselves.
We decided we would be peer-edited and I was elected the Publisher by consensus.
I was working at Digital Equipment Corp at the time and had access to state of the art high-volume copying machines, so I thought they could be expropriated for the masses to publish our magazine, samizdat style. We did this for the first two issues, circulation 200, but the response was so good and I got enough advertisers signed up that we started paying for printing for the third issue.
Over the next two years we would publish 20 issues and grow to a circulation of 5,000, with a national mailing list of 500. I was attending UMass and convinced my department, Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC), to allow me to get 6 independent study credits for doing the paper for three semesters in a row. I also supervised a total of 53 other credits that other people earned over those two years.
We had a pretty good run, got listed in Factsheet Five, got the attention of the FBI for publishing articles about the October Suprise (and a still mostly unheard of scandal with the Boland Ammendment out of Offut Air Force Base in Omaha), supported the paper mostly with paid advertising, and got this rising band from Vermont called PHISH to do a total of three benefit concerts for us (I ran a fourth one later).
Thanks to everyone who participated either as a writer or reader back in the day. I’m pleased to present this archive at long last. As I dig through my back files I’ll be filling in the missing issues as I can.