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The Creation of Reader Nation


THE CREATION of a  READER NATION 

The Creation of a Reader Nation is the initiative to scale The Reader Magazine nationwide.  Its purpose is to permanently improve US society by creating a new nationwide information source, which delivers quality information in tangible form to every single American at no cost, a first in U.S. history.

We are now rapidly scaling our existing, Southern California-focused publication nationwide.  Doing so will provide a journalistic-based direct mail advertising solution in 1,000 zones of 120,000 households each, across the United States. 

In January of this year we completed a long, rigorous business planning process, a road map which outlines how this scaling will occur, who and what resources will be needed, and the strategy we will adopt to create what will be the largest media sales force in the US (approximately 4,000 people) and the first journalistic connection in history with every American home.

Thanks to this data-driven planning process, we can now predict the social, economic and environmental impact from The Reader harnessing part of the $48 billion spent on direct mail to power public interest journalism into every home in America.  It is summarized here and described dynamically in social impact model/calculators.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The Reader is an environmentally responsible revolution.  It drives advertiser ROI through journalistic content rather than high frequency, saving each advertiser an average of 4 tons of wood and $14,000 per year.  The Reader model is so environmentally superior that when only 2% of US SMEs choose it over weekly junk mail it reduces total US green house gasses by 6.5 million tons, enough that 1000 transitions with equal impact would reduce total US green house gas to net zero.  There are 15 other significant, positive environmental benefits gained from each business that advertises in The Reader rather than conventional direct mail. 

SOCIAL IMPACT

Part of what fostered America’s equal economic opportunity, growth and global dominance during the late 1940s to early 1970s came through a shared sense of purpose, taste and vocabulary made possible from single media entities– certain TV shows, radio programs and magazines– entering a large majority of American homes.  This worked to empower nearly all Americans because it was distributed through a decentralized, democratic system in which thousands of local media channels could exert influence– and thus accountability– in what was coming into homes.

The core social impact strategy of The Reader Magazine is to produce and distribute honest information to all, free.  This strategy includes bringing investigative journalism and work by independent authors, researchers and foundations to a critical mass of the population. Our model is able to bring unfiltered, independent news because advertising dollars come from hundreds of thousands of the smallest economic players in US society, not only the largest.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

In communities across the US, small businesses and ordinary folks are increasingly economically vulnerable from no local media channel serving as their political champion.  The result has been a steady decline in wages for most Americans and an increase in economic inequality.  An example of this inequity (and market inefficiency) is that despite small businesses producing 50% of all U.S. GDP, half of all payroll, and the majority of new jobs, they receive less than 1% of the available investment capital in the U.S.

UNUSUAL OPPORTUNITY

For the last 15 years we have been perfecting an information channel, a printed news magazine which reaches 390,000 Californians by mail, free. 

The opportunity now is that the pendulum has swung so far and for so long in the direction in which media is not really serving the interests of the general public that for The Reader to be the local media channel across the US telling the truth to 316 million Americans is not only a massive social imperative but a massive market opportunity.

RECENT HISTORY

Unfortunately, media consolidation has removed the powerful democratizing force small communities and businesses can exert on what is heard, read and seen.  The results for America have not been good.  From 1983 to 2013, while the number of companies controlling 90% of American’s information went from 50 to 6, most Americans had negative income growth and a 30-year, annual $1.5 trillion upward redistribution of wealth occurred from 90% of population to the top 1%, according to a London School of Economics study in 2009.   

For others, the return was much worse. In 2003, the world got the Iraq war largely because there was no US media entity with the independence and influence to properly inform Americans of the scale of the opposition to it, including 36 million people worldwide who took to the streets in protest, which the Guinness Book of World Records lists as the largest protest in human history. 

People know that without an honest system of news and information, we can’t solve our problems because we won’t know what they are. We can live in a world closer to our ideal of what we deserve.  But we have to create an information system that gets the power of truth working again in the United States.

IMAGINE IF WE DID SOMETHING DIFFERENT  

Towards the end of his life when Albert Einstein was asked how problems that threatened the very survival of man might be solved (such as nuclear war) he replied a different way of thinking must be used than the thinking that created the problem.  He declared there were really only two choices before humanity: maintain our way of thinking in which we accept that disagreements be resolved through war or renounce war through a new mentality. 

If it is true that continued life on planet earth depends on this choice, it follows we should look very closely to see if our media system– which is most responsible for shaping judgement– is promoting violence or peace. 

When we do, what is clear is that our media is structured in a way that promotes violence and encourages war.  In fact, the dominant media today shapes the thinking of the majority of people to believe that man is incapable of renouncing violence and that weaponry is man’s only real hope for security— precisely the thinking Einstein warned would lead to no other end than man’s demise.  

As such, there is nothing more important than creating a new journalistic channel reaching every one, free of the power structures which control and perpetuate old thinking.  In addition to its potential environmental, social and economic impact, this is the enormous humanistic potential of the creation of a Reader Nation.

If we do not fix our media system’s propensity to promote weaponry and war over peace– what will most likely occur to everything you hold of value?

We have now embarked on taking this very unique publication and transforming it into a nationwide information source that will communicate stories at a scale massive enough to create a social movement to greater social justice and equality, a model powered by good old fashioned Main Street American businesses, the kind my grandfather–my Babu–started and worked at his whole life.  

Christopher Theodore, Founder of The Reader Magazine     You can reach him at ctheodore@readermagazine.net