Here are some guidlelines from producing a socialist workplace bulletin. The guidelines are in text form below, and attached as a single-A4 sheet (PDF).
PRODUCING A SOCIALIST WORKPLACE BULLETIN
Put the bulletin together at a meeting. Have a political discussion about the main article, and talk about any issues of policy or strategy that arise from other stories.
The bulletin meeting should not just be a technical exercise, but a series of political discussions and an organising forum. Invite workmates and contacts: explain to them the role and the importance of the bulletin – if people say they will come, but always have a reason not to turn up, they are probably not convinced.
Get people to write articles before the meeting, and circulate them to everyone involved in the bulletin before the meeting if possible – either by hand, or on an email list. Articles can be amended in the light of discussion at the meeting, and additional items written.
At the meeting, review the last issue and report on any feedback from your workmates, and any developments on the issues you covered.
Decide what the main article will be in the next issue, and who will write it. Have a brainstorm of ideas for other articles.
Organise around the issues you cover. The bulletin is not just a commentary. Decide at the meeting which of the issues need action, and organise what you are going to do. Take a resolution to your next union meeting? Refuse to work on safety grounds? Go round the workplace with a petition? Campaign for a particular candidate in a union election?
Involve workers in producing the bulletin – writing articles (or giving you suggestions or stories if they are not confident enough to write it themselves), coming to the meetings, making a donation. The bulletin itself should explain how workers can get involved - got a story? want every issue sent to you at home? give out a bundle at work ....
The group of people involved in producing the bulletin will be able to contribute in different ways. Some people will be competent at: layout; writing text; taking photos or drawing cartoons; getting things printed; distribution. There are some things that everyone can contribute to: discussing and deciding what the lead article in each issue should be; picking up stories from the workplace; suggesting points and issues to cover even if they can’t/won’t write the actual article; feeding back to the group on responses from workers.
You must work to deadlines. If people constantly write things late – or promise articles that never appear – your bulletin will fizzle out and you and others will become demoralised. If it’s in the editor’s hands on the deadline, it’s in: if not, it’s not.
Sell subscriptions to the bulletin. This will help with distribution and with production costs, and will get people involved beyond simply reading it. Include details of how to subscribe in each issue.
Occasionally, produce a separate subscription form for people to complete and send in, and staple it to each copy of the bulletin. You will usually get new subscribers each time you do this. When you use a special subs slip, make an extra effort to distribute more copies.
Organise effective distribution – involve people from outside the workplace who will be able to distribute it more openly. Nominate one person to take charge of making sure distribution happens; s/he should report regularly to bulletin meetings.
If distribution is done at a regular time and place, then over time, distributors will develop a political relationship with workers.
Upload the finished bulletin onto the Workers’ Liberty website, and plug it via email.
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