Claiming to be an "independent magazine of critical thinking on political, cultural, social and economic life in the U.S" and that "seeing racial, gender, class, and political dimensions of personal life as fundamental to understanding and improving contemporary circumstances,” Z Magazine “aims to assist activist efforts for a better future.” It is published by South End Press, and is committed to “the politics of radical social change.”
Z Magazine shows, indeed, progressivism with very interesting viewpoints on subjects not often covered by traditional media. The May 2011 issue contains 8 sections: "Memorials," "Net Briefs," "Commentary," "Activism," "What Happened in Wisconsin?," "The Libya Intervention Debate," Book Reviews," and "Zaps." The enlightening article "Court Watch: Caustic Political Speech and The Supreme Court," by Stephen Bergstein in the Commentary section explains the Court's assurance that "provocative speech will not be censured as long as no one is physically injured." Bernstein, an upstate NY civil rights lawyer, includes extensive historical documentation.
The Activism section covers issues such as food sovereignty, historical preservation in Turkey, Iraq's occupation, Hezbollah in Lebanon, education in New Orleans' Lower 9th parish, the "Food Not Bombs" project, and an interview about war, prisons, and torture in the U. S. and UK. Two articles about Wisconsin protests and four Libyan intervention articles are also included and all are worth reading. The articles about Wisconsin, Libya, and radiation expose important factors for understanding and dissemination.
Accompanying cartoons appropriately editorialize their articles, and pictures are mostly captioned, except for the Turkish historical preservation article, in which some are too small and unidentified. As an environmental controversy, readers would find them more relevant if larger and well-captioned. In addition to environmental impacts, the Turkish government's rationale for constructing a hydroelectric dam and reservoir are not addressed, e.g. are there any benefits that outweigh the concern for preservation? The author, Janet Biehl, provides very persuasive preservation arguments.
Z Magazine’s articles would be extremely useful if they are archived and the data available to researchers. After six pages of searching the internet for Hasankeyf, the Turkish preservation issue, the Z Magazine article did not show up. Their articles provide helpful viewpoints about controversial social issues. Z Magazine's international scope and relevant current content show impressive progressive philosophies. Another project of Z Magazine is their Z Media Institute which was started in 1994 by the co-founders of Z Magazine and South End Press to teach radical politics, media, and organizing; the principles and practice of creating non-hierarchical institutions and projects; and a special emphasis on vision and strategy for social change. Classes are held in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Over 750 students have attended ZMI since 1994, with ages ranging from 16 to 82.