Thursday 5 February 2015

Farewell My Lovely

Yesterday I closed the paper. It was a tough decision and threw many un- answered questions into the air: about the limits of agency within grassroots and progressive culture, about how media is valued, about 'sustainable' livlihoods, about those who forge and record the 'beautiful solutions' in a time of collapse. We received some wonderful and heartening responses from people who have been involved in the project since it first began in 2011 - from fellow activists/writers/distributors and Transitioners. For me those relationships, as well as the integrity and coherence of the paper, made it a worthwhile project to devote many many long hours to. Here is my last post on our website:

Dear Readers and Supporters of Transition Free Press,

I am sorry to inform you that our innovative grassroots newspaper will not be published this year. We were hoping to relaunch this Spring with a bright new expanded edition but have been unable to raise sufficient funds to pay for our core costs.

For the past three years we have produced seven issues, all of which have documented the actions, skills and intelligence of Transition and affiliated progressive movements. Our purpose was to reflect the cultural shift many of us are involved in and to act as a communications tool for Initiatives and groups. Thanks to over 150 contributors, over 100 distributors, 50 advertisers and a collective editorial team, over 70,000 papers have appeared all over the UK - in shops, in cafes, universities and libraries, waiting rooms and market stalls. At public events and in private moments.

We have never been at a loss for material. 

TFP_Advert_STIR_Final Running newspapers is hard work and it was always our intention that TFP should be a co-operative social enterprise that paid people for their skills and dedication. Backing from a crowdfunding campaign and grants from Network for Social Change and Transition Network has given us time to build up a social infrastructure, with the aim of eventually becoming a self-sustaining enterprise.

However to become a sustainable business involves a paradox. Even though our editorial might challenge a 'growth-at-all costs' culture, we ourselves needed to grow massively to keep going. We needed to sell tens of thousands more papers, charge much more for them, dedicate more of our pages to advertising and find hundreds more subscribers. And fast.

Image1507 At the end of last year we did (finally and happily) succeed in finding funds for two of our proposed 2015 issues. but not for the whole year. To fulfil our obligations to become 'financially sustainable' meant we would have needed to make at least £20,000 pa profit to pay our core costs, and if we wanted to pay ourselves the minimum wage, over £30,000.

This was beyond our capabilities. We have always covered our production costs, but have never made the kinds of sums that make business sense. So even though the big picture public debates, from the May elections to COP15 in December, probably need the presence of a free press more than ever before, TFP will not be there to discuss them. Nor will we be there to record and celebrate the small events, actions, gatherings, projects, productions and conversations that make up the grassroots culture of a world-in-flux.

As the paper's editor and co-founder, I had hoped we could make a livelihood from our professional work within Transition. However, I now realise that for that to be the case independent journalism needs to be held in far greater esteem than it does at present. It has to matter there is a free press, that what we write matters, that our voices be heard. Because until our words are given space and attention the new story of community and collaboration everyone is waiting for will not be told.

I hope that new alliances, such as Real Media (see Amy Hall's post here) will demonstrate why the future needs a people-friendly, Earth-friendly media and that TFP's contributions and insights will have helped make that happen.

Meanwhile, dear readers, thank you for supporting us during these years. Thank you especially to our contributors, our subscribers (whom we will be refunding) and also our loyal distributors who, sometimes against the odds, have kept selling the paper to their communities. Thank you to my fellow writers, editors, designers and managers at TFP. Thank you all for your generosity, creativity and for giving it a go.

With best wishes, Charlotte Du Cann

484997_460945680613821_965150950_a Images: Charlotte Du Cann (Editor) reading TFP3; Trucie Mitchell (Designer) reading TFP2; our first reader on the train, reading the preview issue: Mark Watson (Distribution Manager) reading TFP4


  1. Charlotte, Mark, I'm gutted. As you say, this year more than ever we need your positive vision of how things can - WILL - be different. I want there to be a Bransonesque figure come and change this decision. Is it *really* too late? So many people will, like me, now be wishing they had done more to further your success with this wonderful enterprise xx

    1. Dear Nick,

      Thanks so much for your message. We were open for years for that mythical backer to come through the door! Words are slippery things to sell in a marketplace that prefers goods and services.

      It was tough to let TFP go, but heartening to have so many messages of support.

      Thanks again for yours.

      All the best, Charlotte