Monday, June 18, 2007

More Bad News: The Demise of Punk Planet
The tiny club of independent, progressive/radical publications based here in Chicago is about to shrink yet again. I just got word that Punk Planet-- a zine that for 13 years combined service to the punk subculture with coverage of news and commentary about feminism, labor, sexual politics, race relations, the environment and a host of other issues--is going to close its doors. Here's a choice snippet from PP founder and editor Dan Sinker's letter to subscribers:
As much as it breaks our hearts to write these words, the final issue
of Punk Planet is in the post, possibly heading toward you right now.
Over the last 80 issues and 13 years, we've covered every aspect of
the financially independent, emotionally autonomous, free culture we
refer to as "the underground." In that time we've sounded many alarms
from our editorial offices: about threats of co-optation, big-media
emulation, and unseen corporate sponsorship. We've also done
everything in our power to create a support network for independent
media, experiment with revenue streams, and correct the distribution
issues that have increasingly plagued independent magazines. But now
we've come to the impossible decision to stop printing, having
sounded all the alarms and reenvisioned all the systems we can.
Benefit shows are no longer enough to make up for bad distribution
deals, disappearing advertisers, and a decreasing audience of

As to the latter two points, we could blame the Internet. It makes
editorial content—and bands—easy to find, for free. (We're sure our
fellow indie labels, those still standing, can attest to the
difficulties created in the last few years). We can blame educational
and media systems that value magazines focused on consumerism over
engaged dissent. And we can blame the popular but mistaken belief
that punk died several years ago.

But it is also true that great things end, and the best things end
far too quickly.

As to bad distribution deals, we must acknowledge that the financial
hit we took in October of 2005, when our newsstand distributor
announced that it was in dire straits, was worse than we originally
thought. As the dust began to clear from their January bankruptcy
announcement, we began to realize that the magazine was left in
significantly worse shape, distribution-wise, than they let on.

Add to that the stagnation that the independent record world is
suffering under and the effect that has had on our ad sales, not to
mention the loss of independent bookstores with a vested interest in
selling our publication, and it all adds up to a desperate situation.
This has been made far worse by the exhaustion felt from a year and a
half of fighting our own distributor. It was a situation that didn't
have an exit strategy other then, well, exiting.
Sinker goes on to explain that the PP website and book publishing imprint will continue on. Still, the world will be a vastly less interesting place without the excellent print magazine; it could always be counted on for thoughtful columns, eye opening feature articles, interviews with cutting edge bands, artists and activists, and sharp tongued reviews of music, books and media of all kinds. It sure beat the hell out of the corporate rock magazines like Rolling Stone and Spin. I'll miss it...

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