First Published: Frontline, Vol. 1, No. 23, May 28, 1984.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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With this issue Frontline wraps up its first year of publication, making this an appropriate point to take stock of what this newspaper has accomplished and the challenges that still lie ahead.
When Frontline was launched, we set as our goal putting out a paper that would be useful–ultimately, indispensable–to the growing number of activists on the frontlines of the class struggle. In the pilot issue circulated before publication, we argued that for Frontline to distinguish itself from the host of other left papers sharing that broad purpose, two things would have to be translated into concrete reality, issue after issue: first, political clarity regarding the motion of contemporary politics and the road to building a united working class movement for socialism; and second, a level of in-depth analysis that could illuminate the underlying class forces shaping the news without lapsing into stale rhetoric.
In the U.S., the headquarters of the world imperialist system, the pivot of the class struggle which any strategic line must address is the deadly combination of war andracism. The U.S. capitalist class cannot maintain its rule without waging war against the enemies of imperialism abroad and maintaining the system of racism which weakens the workers’ movement at home. And the U.S. working class cannot consistently defend itself or mature into a powerful revolutionary force without breaking the grip of pro-imperialist patriotism and racism within its own ranks.
This assessment is the heart of the United Front Against War and Racism perspective from which Frontline views the news. But for this to be more than a general insight, it must pass the test of concrete analysis, making sense out of every event, every issue, every trend in the class struggle.
Portraying class and political forces that are constantly on the move, gauging the balance of forces at critical points, finding causes below the surface of events –these are the standards that revolutionary journalism must meet And since new and dramatic events constantly arise in the class struggle, a political line and a capacity for analysis must be able to handle the tough, fast-breaking stories–like the downing of the Korean airliner or the U.S. invasion of Grenada–on which we had to cut our teeth this past year.
Frontline’s politics and its commitment to analysis were the anchors for our effort to produce a readable, attractive, professional paper, covering every front of the peoples’ movement with a blend of news, analysis, opinion, debate and cultural commentary. The importance for the left of such a paper was framed by the broader political goals to which it could contribute: the building of a broad popular movement capable of contending with the U.S. ruling class, and the process of uniting the most advanced forces in that movement into a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party.
Looking back over the actual results of our first year, we think we started well, grew considerably–and still have quite a ways to go. Frontline has become a recognized voice on the left, gaining a reputation as a serious paper with high standards and a consistent, definite point of view. The steady growth in readership and in feedback from that readership indicates that Frontline’s approach to the class struggle is getting an increasing hearing, both among those who agree with us and those who do not.
But these are hardly times for any paper on the left to rest on its laurels. The escalating belligerence of imperialism around the world and the intensifying class struggle at home mean that the need for a paper doing what Frontline aims to do grows daily–and so do the challenges.
A key priority in upgrading our efforts in the next year is strengthening our coverage of the peoples’ movements. Many activists (including ourselves) have noted that one of Frontline’s key strengths is its perceptive exposure and analysis of what the bourgeoisie is up to and how dangerous its machinations have become. We have not been quite as thorough, however, in our coverage of the peoples’ movements, fully extracting the many lessons on how progress has been made and how to move further ahead. We intend to devote more attention to this in the next year, improving our coverage of the working class side of the class war.
Improvements are also needed to address the unevenness in our coverage of world developments. As the accompanying index indicates, Frontline has been quite comprehensive in its coverage of the critical flashpoints of Central America and the Middle East, making available not only our own analysis but that of the revolutionary forces directly involved in those struggles as well. But coverage of other areas–notably Europe, Africa and the southern cone of Latin America–has gotten much less attention, and steps are being taken to correct this.
We also intend to increase the quantity and quality of debate and exchange of views that goes on in the pages of Frontline. In recent issues, there has been progress on this front, both in the Letters section and the Viewpoint pages. But having established a presence and identity for Frontline on the left, we are now in a better position to do much more with this aspect of the paper. Closely connected with meeting this goal, the next year will also see an ambitious attempt to expand our readership’s interaction with the paper through the establishment of periodic Frontline Forums in local areas on topics raised in these pages.
Plans are underway to implement these and other changes in the coming months, to make sure we have more than added longevity to take note of at the end of our second year. But to accomplish this most effectively, we also need your help–your opinions about our opinions, feedback on particular articles and general approaches, and suggestions on how to make Frontline more useful to the readers it’s designed for.
We also, of course, need your support in the concrete ways that keep any newspaper alive. This includes subscribing, for those who haven’t already; prompt subscription renewal for those who have been with us for a while; showing the paper to other people and urging them to subscribe; taking advantage of the newly-instituted special trial/gift subscription offer, and enrolling in the sustainer program which is vital to the long-run financial stability of the paper.
With a good start under our belts, with a sober recognition of how much more needs to be done, and with your help, we’ll be seeing you on the frontlines for another year–and for as long as it takes.