Newspaper Wrap

Mass-produce and distribute your own front page for the newspaper!
You will need ( tools or supplies ): 
Newspaper wrappers
Vehicles
Quarters
Step

A newspaper wrap is a great way to get a message out and lampoon the media who refuse to share the means to do so in the process. It gives the lie to the rhetoric about freedom of the press by taking that freedom by storm from the cartel that monopolizes it—and simultaneously entertains, informs, and empowers witnesses. It gives the underdog leverage in social struggles.

Step

First, pick your target, according to your goals—is your wrap intended to front and thus confront a certain established newspaper, or is it an all-purpose broadside to wrap every paper in town? The former approach is more effective for subtle parodies, and provides an excellent opportunity for humor; if people begin reading your wrap without realizing it is not the “real” cover of the paper they picked up, they will at first accept what they see with the same attitudes with which they receive mainstream media reports—and the shock of figuring out they’ve been duped just might jerk them out of putting unqualified faith in any such paper again. The latter approach—making a wrap to go around every paper in town—is more straightforward, and at least has the advantage of being universally applicable, if ubiquity is one of your objectives. Your layout will vary according to your approach—the former option requires a much greater degree of precision, of course, if the wrap really is meant to be mistaken for the object of your satire.

Step

You can do almost anything with the content: just think, what would you say to the world if you ran the newspapers? Or, for that matter, how can you reveal what the newspapers are really saying with every front page, how can you make the implicit explicit? Humor can help keep the as-yet-unconverted reading after their initial curiosity is satisfied, as long as it isn’t so heavy-handed as to alienate them. Alternatively, if you feel up for the challenge, you can try to make your content so convincing that it will not be recognized as a spoof, and thus precipitate a useful scandal around the resulting rumors, misinformation, and hysteria. It can help drive your message home to include as many local references as possible; better yet, you could illustrate some of the articles with, say, photos from recent actions or interventions, to emphasize the contestation of power that is taking place in your area. For example, if somebody managed to put some clever graffiti on a well-known, well-guarded public monument, but it unfortunately only stayed up for a day (as the local authorities were intent on not letting anyone see that such a challenge to their power was possible), a picture taken that day could make a lovely cover illustration for a newspaper wrap; many people take the media representation of their home streets more seriously than their actual experience of them, and you can help them to feel they live in a liberated territory (or a police state, or a war zone) by capturing that moment in time. A photograph of a beating the police deny ever happened would also go nicely on the front cover of a newspaper wrap.

Step

Find a local newspaper printing company. You’ll want to use a false name in your dealings with them, just to be on the safe side. Most of the cost of newspaper production is in the startup fees, so you might as well make a lot, unless you’re so lazy the extras will just sit moldering somewhere until they are seized as police evidence. You can make a single newspaper sheet to simply go around the front, or a two-page spread to wrap the entire first section of the paper. Make sure you’ve got the dimensions right for your target(s)!

Step

You won’t need more than a couple of people to pick up the papers from the printer and chart the location of every newspaper dispenser in your town or borough, but you’ll probably want to invite a couple dozen friends to join in the deploying—you’ll have to be quick and numerous to get it all done in the brief window of time between the delivery of the day’s newspapers and the hour people start picking them up. Papers are usually delivered around four in the morning, but you’ll want to check this for yourself in your target area. The people delivering them are generally folks just like you, with vehicles not unlike your own (no, not the one with the stenciling all over it), so rest assured—chances are you won’t look out of the ordinary carrying out your mission. They go from box to box, putting in a special key that opens them, taking out the old newspapers and putting in the new ones; you’ll do the same, using quarters to open the boxes if you haven’t managed to snag or replicate the special key, taking out the unwrapped papers and putting wrapped ones in their place. The most efficient method is three people to a car: one driver, one clean-cut person to go to each machine and exchange the pile of unwrapped papers within for a pile of wrapped ones, and one maniac in the back frantically wrapping away. At the very end of the trip, you can go back to the first box, where you got your first pile of unwrapped papers, and put in the last wrapped ones. Needless to say, this process works best if you’re wrapping just one brand of newspaper; if you’re trying to hit every one of a number of different newspapers, and there isn’t enough space in the back seat to keep several separate piles going at once, you can either divide up the different newspapers between different vehicles, or just take each pile of papers back to the vehicle to wrap before returning them. It’s been known to happen that people have participated in newspaper wraps on bicycles, leaving each box jammed open while they wrap its papers nearby; this is less efficient, however, and may be riskier, as it requires two trips to each box—or one long stay at each, in full view. Whatever your method, chart your route so it’ll be least likely that anyone will catch on to what you’re doing until you’re done.

Step

Bicyclists are best suited to going driveway to driveway, adding the wraps to individually delivered papers. Playing this role, they can round out the work of the drivers; in some areas, few people use newspaper dispensers, but if the wraps also appear in the front yards of the suburbs it will seem they are everywhere. If you can’t hit every driveway in the city, pick out a few important neighborhoods—and perhaps the driveways of a few significant people (say, editors at the targeted newspaper or rival newspapers, key players in the issues you’re addressing, etc.). This can help ensure your action will achieve the notoriety and reaction it deserves—just be especially careful while carrying out this phase, so you don’t get caught red-handed.

Step

Afterwards, if it won’t attract the wrong kind of attention, your leftovers can be dropped off in coffee shops, dentists’ waiting rooms, and so on. Congratulate yourselves on a job well done, and don’t ever talk about such things again—until it’s time to round folks up for the next activity.

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