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The Prism comes to Greensboro

by Daniel Bayer, coordinator, The Prism's Greensboro division


My first experience with journalism was reviewing a record for my junior high school newspaper (Metal Maniacs Vol. 2, I think it was.) I became involved with alternative media through a chance encounter with Tim Hopkins outside the Somewhere Else Tavern in January of 1996.

(My band was playing; we were billed as the "Art band for the working class." Apparently he thought it had some sort of Communist connotation.)

Hopkins invited me to work with him on the Greensboro Gazette, a monthly alternative paper founded by Andy Rogers, who had worked with both the Prism and Greensboro's Omni News. Other key members of our constantly rotating staff were Chris Hammond, who since then has written for The Independent; Bridget Evarts, who once worked for the Carolina Peacemaker; Chris Culbreth, who now lives in San Francisco; Scott Trent, now in Atlanta working with the homeless advocacy group Empty the Shelters; and everyone else who dropped by to write, edit or distribute.

We covered a range of progressive issues, always seeking to add local insight to stories which the mainstream media chose to downplay or ignore. I went from distribution to writing articles to laying out the final four issues, but after two and a half years of shaky finances, internal wrangling over the paper's direction, and an inconsistent publishing schedule, burnout set in and I felt it was time to move on to something new.

That something is The Prism, the Chapel Hill-based alternative monthly guided for the past nine years by many people, though David and Mia Kirsh are the only two who have stuck it through since the beginning. I had heard of The Prism through Jeff Saviano, who first contacted me around November of 1996 to get the Gazette's words in the Feb. 97 section on NC's Grassroots Media. After that we also talked about setting up a free, Internet-based wire service. This led to the sharing of information and articles between the Gazette and The Prism, and my eventual decision to join forces with them on a permanent basis.

What attracted me to The Prism was their belief in the free and open discussion of controversial issues, even within the progressive movement itself. There's no attempt to advance a particular philosophy or ideology, aside from "respect for the rights, dignity, and diversity of all people." Present all the facts; let the reader decide.

Through their "Special Sections" program, an organization can rent entire pages and present their views free of editorial restraint. Previous special sections have featured the Hosea Hudson Club, a communist group, and Black Ink, published by members of UNC-Chapel Hill's Sonya Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center.

The Prism isn't just going to be another Chapel Hill newspaper that happens to cover events in Greensboro — that is, unless that's all you really want it to be. The same technical revolution that has made Bill Gates the de-facto Emperor of Earth will also allow us to share editing, writing, and eventually production duties over the vast reaches of cyber-space, all while listening to old Judas Priest albums and stuffing ourselves with Cheesy-Poofs.

We need your input and support, through writing, distribution, production, or simply a donation. The Prism has been publishing for nine years; an eternity of experience in the ephemeral world of alternative media. Greensboro has a distinguished history of street level social activism; like the gangster said in the under-rated Ray Sharkey film The Idolmaker, "Either you do it, or you do it, or you do it."


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Send comments to prism@sunsite.unc.edu.