‘Information For Action’ is a catchphrase that attached itself to SchNEWS not long after its inception as a publication in late 1994, and has remained at its core ever since, giving readers the information, contacts – and not forgetting inspiration – to pro-actively get involved
in the stories covered every week. Into its 17th year and approaching its 800th issue, SchNEWS has carved out a niche in the British media as a mouthpiece for protest movements and as a source of commentary about national and international politics from the left – all run by volunteers on a shoe-string budget thanks to donations.

Beginning just before widespread use of the internet and specifically in opposition to the Criminal Justice Act 1994 – the law which cracked down on squatters, travellers, protesters and ravers with the infamous line about music “characterised by repetitive beats” – SchNEWS has kept a steady weekly output of two-sidesof- A4 crowded with text ever since. In that time the ever-shifting writing team have covered – and often been part of – large waves of activism from the massive anti- roads protests and Reclaim The Streets parties of the 90s, through to the big post-Seattle summit actions, the anti-war movements of the past decade, the recent anti-cuts demonstrations and many more equally significant moments too numerous to mention. Just as the internet transformed everything else, alternative media burst into life on the web with the rise of the international Indymedia network, citizen journalism, the plethora of blogs and radical news sources, and now social networking. But despite these huge changes (and the fact that most people now read SchNEWS online rather than on paper), its formula of concise, fact-heavy, witty articles which prompt a pro-active reader response has remained resilient to these paradigm shifts in format and media.

But in fact SchNEWS was never just a news sheet or a website, because it has always operated on a range of fronts. Initially the news sheet was an accompaniment to live news-reading in pubs and festivals, SchLIVE. Ten annual books were published during the first decade. Since 2004, films have been produced and released online and on DVD as SchMOVIES. Added to this are countless info stalls at festivals, demos, bookfairs and on the street. The line is often blurred between promoting SchNEWS itself and the campaigns it is supporting, mostly because it is run by volunteer activists (not journalists) who may be wearing several hats at the same time.

Though there hasn’t been a new SchNEWS book since the dense compendium covering the first decade SchNEWS At Ten was published in late 2004, because the emphasis turned towards producing DVDs, it has now released a long-awaited book of political graphics and satiricial material, SchNEWS In Graphic Detail. This came about because part of producing each weekly issue involves creating a graphic, normally about the main article of the week. And with over 500 of these to choose from (see schnews.org.uk/satire), as well as other satirical material produced inhouse, there was enough to put together a formidable full- colour book. There was also an emphasis on making it representative of the spread of issues SchNEWS covers – from climate change to ecological direct action, protecting environments and communities from the onslaught of monetarism, the anti-war movements, GM foods, animal rights, autonomous spaces and squatting, the oil industry, the financial crisis, international issues like the occupation of Palestine, refugee rights and much more.

This book highlights the ability of graphics and cartoons to distill political ideas into visual representations which can become ‘memes’ travelling out on their own journeys across the internet, being passed on virally as masses of people pick out things that mean something to them from the endlessness of the web. SchNEWS images have been used by relevant campaign groups, crop up in other independent publications and even get fly-posted – all part of a ‘copyleft’ process of disseminating material through allowing others to re-use it. SchNEWS In Graphic Detail is available for £5 from a range of radical bookshops around the country, such as Housmans in London and Rare And Racy in Sheffield, or £6.50 inc. P&P direct from SchNEWS online.

schnews.org.uk
books@schnews.org.uk

John Hodge