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Z Magazine - June 2011

  • Published Date: June 2011
  • Publication Cycle: 11 times/year

Sometimes it’s nice to get another perspective, other times it’s downright satisfying to have someone else agree with you. Ninety-five percent of the time mainstream media tells the story that needs to be heard, and when it comes to news stories, many of us hear what we want to hear anyhow. That is, we take away from a story what we want to take away from it. But if you're in the market for well-researched, articulate articles by writer-activists with true convictions (who are not afraid to speak their minds) then seek out Z Magazine.

Readers Beware: Articles in Z Magazine contain the occasional slam on mainstream media as well as talk of the Democratic Party’s failings. For example, in discussion of polling data meant to gauge the U.S. population's stance on The Big Issues, including jobs, the deficit, health care and entitlement benefits, Edward S. Herman writes in "Reflections on the U.S. Counterrevolution" that "mainstream media, as part of the elite, play down or misrepresent these poll results."

Paul Street's "The Meaning of Madison" offers many perspectives including Street's own firsthand account of a protest where pro-labor activists rallied against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attack on public sector union collective bargaining rights. Being there, Street is able to tell us that "on Saturday, February 19, a day when Tea Party activists vowed to hold a rally in support of Walker […] The Tea Party Contingent was outnumbered at least 60 to 1—unreported in Chicago's evening news broadcasts, which portrayed the day as pitting 2 roughly equivalent protests against one another."

The June 2011 issue opens with a memorial to the late Hazel Dickens. Recalling the life of this musician in particular highlights the type of voices Z Magazine seeks to feature. Dickens grew up in Appalachia and wrote songs to express the plight of the downtrodden, the working poor, the existence of life in coal mining towns, and aimed to promote feminist ideals. Also in this issue, Shahin Cole and Juan Cole discuss the recent uprisings in an article entitled "The Missing Story from the Middle East." Here, the authors discuss how the role of women in these uprisings has been understated. Moreover, that these courageous women faced adversity even from other protestors: "attacked by militant religious young men who shouted that they should go home and do the laundry." The article's authors also point to the lack of women in positions to represent their government: "In preparation for September elections in Egypt...only one woman (a Mubarak holdover at that) was appointed to the 29-person interim cabinet."

One of the most entertaining reads in this issue is Don Monkerud's commentary, "Buy Cable TV, Get a Free Gun: Welcome to the New America." In his article, which comes under the banner "Bizarre Politics," we learn that the article’s title refers to a deal offered by a Montana RadioShack, "a gun with every purchase of Dish Network." Monkerud goes on to aggregate poignant snippets of nefarious GOP dealings. He delivers this information with a light tone while exposing a rather dark portrait of American political climate in recent times.

Z Magazine publishes 11 issues a year, each forty-eight pages in length. The magazine addresses current national and world issues through what is, generally speaking, a progressive lens. Inside the front flap of each issue is a mission statement explaining that, "Z Magazine is an independent magazine of critical thinking on political, culture, social, and economic life in the U.S. It sees the racial, gender, class, and political dimensions of personal life as fundamental to understanding and improving contemporary circumstances; and it aims to assist activist efforts for a better future." While Z Magazine posits itself as a radical voice, the magazine content will be of interest to many readers who even somewhat lean to the left. The articles are written for a general readership that has at least some familiarity with current social and political issues. The layout of the magazine is inviting with a hefty dose of political cartoons that are far more biting than the "funnies" in mainstream publications.

Z Magazine, founded in 1987, is a division of South End Press, a publishing house that according to the Z Communications website was "founded to raise consciousness about class, gender, race, and power and to provided information, analysis, and vision to help activism." The website calls Z magazine a "radical print and online periodical" [emphasis added] and that the name "was inspired by the movie Z, directed by Costa-Gavras, that tells the story of repression and resistance in Greece."

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Review Posted on July 14, 2011

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