My First Year at The Indypendent

I’ve done everything from refilling news boxes to writing cover articles at this one-of-a kind community newspaper.

Amba Guerguerian Dec 30, 2020

Read Supporting The Indy Means Supporting Young Journalists Like Mefor another young writer’s perspective.

In college, I learned that 90% of the media is owned by six major corporations. I wanted to be a part of the alternative. I also learned about Indymedia, a decentralized global network of anti-capitalist media collectives that arose before and around Y2K. At its peak, there were more than 200 local chapters around the world producing websites, newspapers, radio shows and more about radical social movements and the issues they were fighting for. 

Please give if you can, so The Indy can continue as a beacon of grassroots journalism.

Yet, when I visited the website, it felt like a relic. Almost everything was defunct. I was like a time traveler wandering amid the digital ruins of a once-thriving civilization that had mysteriously collapsed. Was I too late? Almost. 

Here in New York, I discovered The Indypendent (the “y” in its name hints at its origins), a social-justice newspaper that launched as a part of Indymedia and was somehow still flourishing two decades later with a print edition distributed in outdoor news boxes and at public libraries across the city, a website updated on a near-daily basis and a weekly radio show.  

I noticed most people working on The Indy were volunteers. I quickly sent in my resumé and was invited by the paper’s editors to attend the February 2020 editorial meeting where contributors would debrief on the latest issue and plan for the next.

A pre-COVID Indy editorial meeting.

Within minutes of arriving, I was sweating profusely — because I was nervous but also because The Indy’s small office, wall-papered in old issue covers, was packed with people feverishly discussing subjects that I had a lot to say about. I felt at home, surrounded by other political junkies and radicals. 

I quickly began writing articles and doing a hodgepodge of volunteer work for the paper. When a part-time staff position as administrative manager opened up, I was thrilled to be tapped for the role. I eagerly learned my duties — which range from distribution of the physical newspaper to creating videos for our website to producing our radio show

I think that’s one of the most enlightening things about The Indy — It’s free! 

I’ve been able to do a lot of reporting, too. My first article was about a man who was shot in the face by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Sunset Park. I have covered early morning ICE watches, interviewed COVID-concerned Rikers Island prisoners by phone and reported from the streets on the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement.

I wrote a heavily researched article about the NYPD’s protest suppression tactics for our recent December issue. When I saw the completed issue, I yelled out. My article made the cover. 

Having something to focus on that brings me close to the people that are working to change the world’s order has been essential in this whirlwind of a year.

People who read The Indy may not realize how much of a grassroots effort it is. Our small team works diligently to make each issue possible. We run around the city cleaning newspaper boxes, going to the printing press, handing out the paper at protests. We work with countless organizers, intellectuals and community members in order to produce the news we feel is vital to understanding current events in New York City. We are honored to be home to a beautiful host of photographers and writers to get these issues on the page in a way that the reader will find engaging and, hopefully, empowering. 

I am freshly inspired when I think about the fact that I participate in providing accessible, independent news and analysis to our readers. We are the City’s only truly progressive newspaper you can find on the streets, in the library or online — all FOR FREE. I think that’s one of the most enlightening things about The Indy — It’s free! 

That leaves me with this ask: Please give if you can, because when you do, you are supporting grassroots journalism and a unique space for radical young journalists like myself to hone their skills.

Read the most recent Editor’s Note: “Trump Will Soon Be Gone. But The Need For Independent Journalism Will Not

Please support independent media today! Now celebrating its 20th anniversaryThe Indypendent is still standing but it’s not easy. Make a recurring or one-time donation today or subscribe to our monthly print edition and get every copy sent straight to your home.

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