Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973
"Censored" by the Printer
"Censored" by the Printer
After our paper is written, typeset, corrected, pasted up, gumballed, etc., it is wrapped in a box and put on the bus or if we're late the plane, for Wanganui. There it reaches its printers, Wanganui Newspapers. This firm comprises Wanganui's old Chronicle and Herald who caught the monopoly bug and combined eventually to become part of . . . But that's another story, though not unconnected to the matter of this article as denoted by the headline.
At Wanganui, every page of Salient is scrutinised by one or other of the big firm's editors. Not only is this article written by a Salient editor and checked by his fellows and our legal reader; it must also pass the scrutiny of the printers' editor. Because of New Zealand's curious legal system, not only writers and publishers are liable for libel, but also printers. So if the Wanganui editor' finds his eyebrows rising as he reads these pages, he gets in touch with the big boss, Genial George Mead. By then, the shit has hit the fan, and Salient's in for a slashing.
That's what happened last week. Mr Mead rang us to say that his firm just couldn't print a couple of articles. We protested that the articles had been legally read and any possible libels had been chopped out before the paste-up. Not good enough, said Mr Mead — the articles were in "bad taste".
This is the incredible situation that we are in. Even if the laws were changed so that Mr Mead could concentrate on the printing feeling safely indemnified by us and by the publishers, we would still have our copy chopped. The printers' taste is part of the reason, but Mr Mead must know that taste is a fickle thing. His reaction goes deeper to one common to members of the ruling class — the instinct to protect his fellows when under attack.
Last week, I made a mild attack on one of the pillars of the ruling class, a magistrate, and one of its stooges, a vice squad policeman. And now I must rebuke that class itself (and don't get me wrong folks, I'm not personally attacking Mr Mead whom we frankly depend upon, and for a large part with whom we have cordial relations). We're up against the ruling class which surely shows itself up as corrupt when it bands together to suppress criticism. Mr Mead's personal flaw was to imply that this is in "good taste".
What can we do? We're bent over the barrel in this sort of journalism. We have an urge to go to print, and believe that its for political rather than personal reasons. We invite criticism and attempt self-criticism to constantly check our motives. But when we see fit to proceed with an iconoclastic point of view we are often thwarted because the people who represent the system we're attacking hold the ultimate power of censorship in their hands.
For a long time the answer has been the underground press. But Salient believes that the anti-capitalist press should have to struggle for influence and ultimately revolution, not just for its own survival. Building the 'underground' is fine so long as it doesn't always stay underground, and we mean to make the voice of the oppressed heard everywhere. How we achieve this is our struggle.
This weekend all student, 'alternative' and underground writers, publishers and printers in New Zealand are meeting in Wellington to discuss our present situation and plan action for the future. Hopefully some guidelines and solutions will be forthcoming from the conference. Perhaps the way to build a free press is to plan on a grand scale to take over the means of production, at first rivalling the monopolists' empires until the people take them over by revolution.
That's the way we're thinking at the moment. What it all depends upon, of course, is having a readership, and that means you. Each of our readers could make a valuable contribution to the building of a free press if they were to at this moment write out a cheque made payable to the editors, for $1000 or so. But we can also be realistic, and would like you to know that your opinions are just as valuable to us.
— Roger Steele