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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 in the second month of a 7-month business planning process with stakeholders, advisers and potential investors during which time we’re drafting the plan to bring The Reader to every U.S. home.  It will be finished September 1, 2014 after which we will present it in-person to investors to whom we’ve given the opportunity to see it develop over the 7-month process.

The document will contain a rigorous, data-driven analysis of the projected social impact (and economic return) by The Reader harnessing part of the $50 billion spent on direct mail to power public interest journalism into every home in America. Our initial estimates of the economic return from The Reader capturing a 2% market share of the US direct mail market is 9-figure profit volume annually.  With respect to components of its triple-bottom line impact, the potential environmental, social, and social-economic impact includes the following. 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The Reader Magazine demonstrates why paper is 4000 years older than the word sustainable and the most widely-used technology in the world.  The Reader Magazine’s high quality, low frequency model is good for people, planet, and business, including the paper industry. The Reader will create higher standards and demand for paper, while demonstrating it is amongst the most responsible and powerful ways to influence people.

SOCIAL IMPACT

From where we are now, The Reader’s social impact may be difficult to predict.  Nevertheless, given the fact a mere six companies (Comcast, NewsCorp, CBS, Viacom, Time Warner and Disney) control 90% of US media, the impact from The Reader bringing public interest journalism independent of these six companies may prove a significant driver of necessary political, social and economic reform.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

When The Reader inspires most Americans to shift a mere 5% of their shopping to locally-owned businesses: an extra $240 billion is spent at locally-owned businesses annually, government better represents the interests of people, families and small businesses, and an extra $390 billion recirculates in communities created by the multiplier effect from local spending which was being deposited in the banks of the largest big box retailers and service providers annually. 

UNUSUAL OPPORTUNITY

For the last 13 years we have been perfecting an information channel, a printed news magazine which reaches 390,000 Californians by mail, free.  These thirteen years on the front lines with locally-owned businesses and hundreds of thousands of people in diverse communities have given us street-level knowledge of an opportunity which if seized upon immediately may result in an historic reform of American society on multiple levels with far-reaching and potentially permanent consequences.

The opportunity is that right now it’s possible to create a nationwide, totally free news magazine that reaches every household in America with original reporting from non-profit news and research organizations.  The pendulum has swung so far in the direction in which media is not serving the interests of people that to tell to tell the truth to 308 million Americans is not only a massive social imperative but a massive market opportunity.  

To understand more about what this opportunity is, it’s necessary to take a step back and look at where we are today and how serious of a problem we’re facing.

RECENT HISTORY

From 1981 to 2011, six media companies bought out or put out of business so many of their competitors that today they control 90% of the information that Americans consume, including 13 of the top 20 news websites.  This was achieved through massive lobbying by all of these media companies.  What did America and the world get in return?  

Over the same thirty years, 90% of Americans achieved zero income growth and most of the 90% experienced negative income growth.  

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. 

IMAGINE A BETTER FUTURE

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.

Investigative news organizations and foundations doing important work that can change the world have no chance of reaching a critical mass of the US population because they lack a vehicle that reaches everyone.  What if they had one?

The Reader Magazine, which we’ve perfected over 13 years has evolved into a vehicle that can in fact bring the existing reporting being done everyday by investigative news organizations to every home in America.  In doing so, not only does The Reader have no conflict of interest between the source of its revenue and bringing fearless, independent journalism to a critical mass.  The source of its revenue– hundreds of thousands of locally-owned businesses depending on it for local advertising and independent journalism become more loyal supporters of the publication (as hundreds of businesses have in our community) because its perspective champions economic localization, and in doing so, champions them.

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?  

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 that we should look very closely to see if our news and information system– which is most responsible for shaping judgement– is promoting violence or peace. 

When we do, what is obvious is that our entire media is structured in a way that promotes violence and encourages war.  Moreover, the financial interest media companies have in transnational corporations which profit from war and weaponry– is accelerating.  

In the nuclear age, if we do not speak up and fix our media system’s unabated propensity to promote weaponry and war over peace– what will inevitably occur to everything we hold of value?  

The connection between media and armaments companies 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 enormous environmental, social and economic promise, this is the enormous humanistic promise of the creation of a Reader Nation.

We have a plan to take this very unique publication from where it is today and transform it into a nation wide information source that can communicate stories at a scale massive enough to create a transformative 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

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