Memories Of The Octopus And How To Fill The Void

As a former Octopus employee and current contributor to the Public i I contempate the past and future of alternative newspapers in C-U. The many times that the Octopus was about to close I was always sad for the potential loss, but I also felt it was possible that the closing would make an opening for something better. I still believe that. Is the Public i that "something" better? Perhaps a coalition between the Public i, WEFT and the IMC Website. I don't know. A group of dedicated citizen journalist- editors have been producing the Public i, a true community newspaper, for two years. It has grown from 4,000 to 5,000 copies printed with each run. It has grown from 8 to 12 pages per issue. It has changed from a model that mimicked corporate owned newspaper structure with a steady editor and clearly defined sections to newspaper that is collectively shaped, edited, proofed, and distributed. We have rotating editors and guest editors. I am part of that collective. You would not believe how peaceful and productive our meetings are. We produce a compelling paper with little or no angst these days - though we've had our share in the past. I'm afraid of what the closing of the CU Cityview will mean to the Public i. It seems we are just getting on a roll. Is bigger better? Is more often better? Should we even attempt to fill the hole left by the closing? If so, what part of the hole should we fill? The arts and entertainment void? The community calendar void? There are many questions to consider. Thankfully, as we answer them we will have one consideration in mind -- what is best for the community. The community includes those who are doing the work and the readers. If you would like to have input -- you are welcome to attend the next meeting of the Public i. Thursday, Jan 9, 2003 (and each week thereafter) 5:30- 6:30pm IMC, 218 W. Main Street, Urbana (where Main and Springfield split)


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