May 02, 2008


The theme at Goat Rope lately has been writing about social change. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts. You'll also find news and links about current events.

Some of the most effective writing to make good things happen or keep bad things from happening--or, failing both, to make bad behavior hurt some--isn't the writing you and I might do, Gentle Reader, as important as that might be...It's the writing we try to get other people to do.

In my experience, alerting the public or raising the noise level is hugely important in campaigns for social justice. On several occasions in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, I've seen change happen when the Bad Noise gets too loud.

Often, this may involve knowing what would make a legitimate news story and alerting reporters about it, especially if you stumble upon a juicy tidbit of reliable information. Surfacing an issue can send ripples out all over as the story gets picked up by more and more media outlets. It's kind of fun to line up a string of dominoes and watch them fall down. I've seen it happen several times at the state level and on more than one occasion I've pitched stories to national publications to draw outside attention to events here.

At other times, meeting with the editorial boards of newspapers or contacting columnists can help--provided that you offer reliable information. Encouraging people to write letters to the editor or op-eds on a given topic at the right time can help.

Bloggers also have a role to play in raising awareness among their readers. There have also been many occasions where an issue that wasn't being covered in the regular media finally got covered after bloggers raised the noise level. My advice to bloggers would be 1. encourage others to do the same when the time is right and 2. don't just blog. There's all kind of other media out there. Don't assume that all other doors are locked if there's an important issue to raise.

Bottom line: If you're really interesting in making a difference, don't think of writing as something a solitary individual does...think of it as a group effort. One dog may start the barking, but you can really raise the roof when they all chime in.

Just try not to bark unless there's something really there.

A DREAM DEFERRED. Forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., racial disparities in wealth and income persist.

BEFORE THE BUBBLE BURST. A new study by the Economic Policy Institute argues that the economic recovery of 2001-2007 wasn't anything to write home about.


CULT CLASSICS. We've all heard of cult film classics. From the UK Telegraph, here's a list of cult book classics. Are any of your favorites there?


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