Monthly publication delivers progressive viewpoints, creativity

Sarah Haas

The Ames Progressive, an independent publication, began publication in January 2007 with a circulation of 200 and cost a total of $16 to print.

Greg Bonett, senior in electrical engineering, and others started it as a biweekly independent publication in the hopes of creating an outlet for information that doesn’t get presented anywhere else.

“There are so few sources of discourse in our community, so our publication is special. It’s somewhere where philosophical issues are addressed,” Bonett said. “That’s really how people form decisions and ultimately decides the health and strength of democracy. Is the populace informed, and have they mulled over everything considerably? Are they asking questions? I think a variety of strong media really facilitates that.”

Gavin Aronsen, senior in journalism and mass communication and reporter for the Ames Progressive, agrees the Progressive’s hard work makes for a unique outlet for the community.

“It was an incarnation of several attempts of mind to get an independent publication going,” Bonett said. “It started out as an attempt to get all of the leftist, social justice and environmental organizations coordinated and cross-promote events.”

But the publication, which is offered for free, quickly turned into something else.

“We found that people were interested in reading stories longer than the typical 600 words – stories about current events,” Bonett said. “We also recognized the wealth of talent in terms of poetry and fiction writers that seemed sorely underutilized – so it became a venue for all of those things.”

Fifteen regularly contributing staff members began feeling pressure to change the format of the publication in the fall of last year following a steady increase in readership.

Aronsen suggested the transformation to a monthly booklet format that allows for more advertising content.

And, in order to cope with the growth, the Ames Progressive began renting an office in January.

“As far as the needs of our publication, the office is way bigger than we needed,'” Bonett said.

More than a mere office, the space, 118 Hayward Ave. Suite 3, serves as a venue for cultural events such as Thursday night poetry readings.

Every Tuesday, the office becomes a concert venue that features local musicians.

Donations, advertising and subscriptions have allowed the Ames Progressive to increase its circulation, all copies of which are gone by the end of the month, Bonett said.

Bonett and other members still feel a crunch at the end of the month and have yet to feel secure about the publication’s future.

“We’d like to print more, but we can’t afford it right now,” he said. “Our advertising revenue has started to increase, so all additional revenue goes into more copies. But it’s a lot of stress to look at our costs every month and say, ‘We’re still $50 short, where do we get it?'”

Aronsen is happy with the opportunities the publication has provided.

“It allows for a lot more creative freedom. I’ve worked for other publications, and there you’re locked into what you’re assigned or a certain format. Here you have a lot more leeway,” he said.