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May 22nd
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Occupy Journalism

altSLUG REPORT > UCSC alumnus edits for Occupy Wall Street publication

 New York is known for its fast paced lifestyle, Times Square, pizza, the Yankees … and the list goes on. But for three months now, New York has also become known as the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has inspired people across the United States to take to their streets and occupy just about any place they can. The movement has taken off so strongly that there is now an entire publication dedicated to covering all things pertaining to Occupy Wall Street—or at least as much as they can fit in their pages.

Michael Levitin is one of the five editors who works on The Occupied Wall Street Journal, and stated that thus far his work for the publication has been the best he’s done in his life—this coming from someone who has written for the likes of Newsweek, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s all been interesting, but this is about changing structures, and helping improve people’s lives—real substantial change,” says Levitin, who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1998 with a degree in history. “New York is craving it. We print 100,000 copies of each edition and they’re gone within days. We’re feeding an age-old hunger for real information, reflection, news, and ideas.”

Levitin arrived at the New York occupation on Sept. 24 by pure “coincidence,” since Levitin was originally in New York to catch a flight back to Berlin after spending his summer in the U.S. working on a film. Levitin calls this his “own” story, and directs the conversation back to that of the Occupy movement and its fledgling publication, explaining how the latter’s creation sprung from the former.

“We felt like we had to be our own media. … It was just our way of giving voice to the occupation,” says Levitin.

Currently, the publication is funded by donations through Kickstarter, where, according to the website, “every penny you donate will go directly to printing and distribution.”

As the self-described voice of the Occupiers, the paper hasn’t put forth a direct list of “demands” (a general criticism of the movement). Levitin, however, believes that this is a smart move on the movement’s part.

“This isn’t about demands—this is about participation,” says Levitin. “People in the world right now, unlike anytime before, are on par with one another. We’re looking at each other, talking with each other, and looking at events in Egypt, Greece, Spain, London, and everywhere where oppressive regimes are bolstered by big capital, which have no interest in serving the true needs of the people. … And we’re all under this same assault.”

Levitin also disapproves of the notion that the occupation is going to end or die down anytime soon, stating that anyone who believes that needs to “wake up.”

“This is an opening salvo, in a transformative moment in our country’s history, people think we can all go back to sleep now, [but] be realistic: this isn’t some momentary [scenario] and things will soon go back to normal,” he says. “This is the new normal.”

Levitin says that the next issue of The Occupied Wall Street Journal will be published in December with plans to be distributed nationally.

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