To the Editors:
Liberation News Service was formed nearly five years ago, in response to the incomplete and distorted coverage of the 1967 Pentagon march. Since that time it has grown from a mimeoed sheet distributed to ten newspapers to a printed 20-page packet of articles and graphics mailed to nearly 800 subscribers twice a week. Besides underground and college newspapers, LNS goes to papers serving such varied communities as blacks, factory workers, women, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, GIs, Native Americans and high school students. The subscription list also includes book-stores, libraries, community centers and prisons.
Liberation News Service reporters and photographers have traveled to North Vietnam, Africa, and Latin America. Consistently, it has been supplying extensive news about the war in Vietnam; the military aspects as well as what life is like in both the South and the North. The reporter-photographer team that went to Africa worked in an ujamaa village in Tanzania and traveled with guerrillas in the liberated zones of Guinea-Bissau (Portuguese Guinea). Two LNS staffers traveled in the Dominican Republic, visiting a plantation recently seized by the peasants who worked it and participating in demonstrations against political repression in Santo Domingo. They also witnessed the beginnings of the new government in Chile.
LNS has also sent a reporter-photographer team to Lordstown, Ohio, where the workers in a General Motors plant went on strike to protest assembly-line speed-up. They sent people to cover the convention of the Miners for Democracy, the insurgent caucus of the United Mineworkers of America, and up to Attica to interview prisoners a few months after the prison rebellion.
Through the years, Liberation News Service has provided its subscribers with information many of them can get no other place: LNS wrote about the Tiger Cages long before Congressman Anderson went to Vietnam; LNS ran an exposé of C. Arnholt Smith, the man who wields so much power in San Diego, last July—a good six months before Jack Anderson broke the story. In October, LNS ran another article about Smith, Congressman Bob Wilson, and exactly how they convinced the city to bid for the Republican Convention by getting businesses to put up the money for the convention—including the $400,000 contributed by the Sheraton Hotels (an ITT subsidiary). This was four months before much of this came out in Jack Anderson’s column.
Liberation News Service is currently in serious financial trouble. For a number of years LNS received substantial financial aid from various liberal denominations of the Protestant church. But in the spring of 1970, the Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee subpoened the LNS bank records, and leaked the information about the church funds to a right-wing midwest columnist. A conservative newsletter picked up the story, and the church offices in New York started getting irate letters from parishioners worried about their money supporting “pro-Mao, pro-Castro pornography.” By 1971, the church funds had dried up.
LNS’s subscribers themselves often face all kinds of difficulties from ad boycotts by businessmen to physical attacks. Most of them barely scrape together enough money to print each issue and hold their biggest creditors away from their doors. The office of The Great Speckled Bird, among the most respected and substantial underground newspapers, was recently destroyed by a firebomb after an exposé of the mayor of Atlanta appeared in the paper.
Other LNS subscribers include some sailors putting out a mimeoed sheet on board ship to prisoners who pass the LNS newspacket from cell to cell or discuss it in study groups whenever they can get together. These are the people that LNS serves and many of them cannot contribute anything to support LNS.
So though all the production work is done in the Liberation News Service office (from typing to printing to collecting to envelope stuffing) and while salaries for the staff only come to $35 a week, the money their subscribers provide alone is not enough. But it is important that subscribers in places like Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Panama City, Florida, and Chico, California, get LNS. You can help by giving to LNS so that these people as well as a sailor off the coast of Italy and prisoners in San Quentin can continue getting it. Please send anything you can to: Liberation News Service, 160 Claremont Avenue, New York, New York, 10027.
I. F. Stone