2015 FOR THE NORWICH RADICAL – A YEAR IN REVIEW

by Chris Jarvis

The Norwich Radical has just come to the end of its first full calendar year in operation. From humble beginnings, we have come a long way, and this is exclusively down to the dedication of our writers and the support of our readers over the last twelve months. In 2015, we have had over 60,000 visitors to our website, and more than 90,000 views on The Norwich Radical’s pages. We’ve had a phenomenal year, and I wanted to write a little note to give thanks for all of the work that has been put into our publication and to all of you, our readers, for sticking with us and continuing to read, share and join the discussion on our content.

Our Community Section this year has kept us tied to our city. We are proud to be a part of the Norwich community, contributing to the wider discourse on political activity within the city and in the county more widely. In the run up to the General Election, we published articles written by Parliamentary candidates in Norwich South and Norwich North, participating in the debate in the run up to polling day and giving our readers the views of the candidates fighting for their votes in their very own words. We’ve also covered a variety of major political issues and developments in Norwich and the grassroots and community campaigns that have emerged out of them, including cuts to Norfolk County Council and the subsequent campaign against them, the academisation of The Hewett School and the now infamous plans for ‘Generation Park’, on which we have published a series of four separate detailed articles, making our coverage some of the most comprehensive in the Norwich media.

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We’ve not just published reactive pieces about political decisions or traditional campaigning against them. Over the year, we’ve shown through our publication the spirit of community action that is rife within Norwich – covering the problem of food waste within Norwich and the community projects set up to solve it, the people who are establishing sustainable businesses and taking on the fashion industry and community led attempts to deal with the problem of sexual harassment in night life.

All of these cement that we are born in Norwich and we live in Norwich. In 2016 we will continue to be a central part of the Norwich media and the community of activism across the city.

Moving further afield, our Inter|National section has also seen huge growth and success. Drawing on our campaigning spirit, throughout the year, we have covered and promoted a plethora of campaigning activity, demonstrations and direct action. Whether it was People’s Assembly Co-Chair Romayne Phoenix writing on the need for a national demonstration after the General Election to fight the cuts, or our coverage of that same demonstration from a student perspective or whether it was a callout to direct action such as the Reclaim the Power mass action camp, the blockading of arms factories supplying weaponry to Israel and  the focus E15 housing action, we’ve covered many of the major campaigns that have taken place in England this year.

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As part of our coverage of politics across country, we have covered the major internal elections on parties of the left. We published pieces endorsing two separate candidates in the Labour Leadership Election – Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn sparking some controversy, but improving our own internal debate in the process. While much of the media ignored Labour’s Deputy Leadership election, too busy were they focusing on Jeremy Corbyn’s ascension, we did not and we published a piece setting out his stall by the now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson. We poked our toe into London’s politics too, looking at the selection process for candidates for the London Mayoral Election, having articles penned by Gareth Thomas MP and the successful Green Party Candidate Sian Berry.

As internationalists, our political coverage didn’t stop at the borders of the United Kingdom – indeed we have given light to issues ignored by other media outlets and offered unique perspectives on the major stories of the day. From the Rohingya Crisis to the rise of Podemos and the Greek financial crisis to the rise of student politics in Japan we’ve stepped up in covering international events. This was never clearer than in the vast amounts of pieces we published on the terrorist attacks in Paris and the subsequent bombing of Syria by Britain and other Western nations. We published two separate poems on the events – Aegis and Paris Was the Place, a piece highlighting the Islamaphobia in the rhetoric around the attacks, the narrative of a British Iraqi Woman and two pieces covering the vote on airstrikes in Syria that followed the Paris attacks, one in prose, and one in verse. Outside of this international coverage, we have also launched our first full Inter|National section series – Borderlines, which tackles the reality of migration told by migrants themselves.

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Our coverage of British and international political issues links us with the rest of the world around us, and in 2015 we have seen looking even further afield has brought us new friends and comrades in our work.

It cannot be forgotten that The Norwich Radical was born out of the student movement, and so we will continue to be an active player within it. We’ve been covering developments in student politics at UEA, offering the most comprehensive account of the 2015 Student Union elections of any UEA based media outlet, offering column inches to all candidates standing to be both full and part time officers. Outside of the formal election framework, we’ve also offered analysis of a variety of issues effecting students on the campus in Norwich including sexual assault, internet trolling of feminists and restrictions on international students as well as giving a specific and holistic account of campaigns such as Fossil Free UEA as well as taking a look at the Living Wage campaign at UEA.

We’ve taken our coverage of student politics to the national level too. In the run up the annual National Union of Students elections, pieces penned by two winning Vice Presidential candidates Richard Brooks and Shakira Martin were published in The Norwich Radical as well as pieces by successful Block of 15 candidates Sahaya James and Hannah Webb. Furthermore, we’ve shown solidarity with cleaners fighting for justice at SOAS, taken on national student tabloid The Tab over their biphobic articles, defended Bahar Mustafa over her being charged for inciting violence, looked at the growth of co-operatives in the student movement and given tips for self care.

One of our sections, perspectives has undergone a makeover this year, moving away from raw and generalised theory, to become more specific and look specifically at liberation politics, offering spaces for the voices of oppressed people to tell their stories and attempt to take an intersectional approach to the world.

As part of this fledgling section, we’ve taken a look at vast swathes of liberation politics. We’ve tackled the erasure of class struggle from contemporary feminism, the fetishisation of black men within the LGBT+ community, the transphobia that emerged in the wake of Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out, an assessment of the effectiveness of the Alcoholic Anonymous model, an account of the overlapping of social class and ethnicity and an analysis of sex and gender in trans identities. Perspectives has also played host to our most read article of the year. Amassing over 30,000 views, Are We the Nazis Now? by Robyn Sands, looks at the Syrian migration crisis and the lack of compassion given from the British towards those in need. Having been shared more 12,000 times on Facebook, this piece has expanded the reach and the readership of The Norwich Radical more than any other.

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And finally, in our Arts section, the largest part of The Norwich Radical’s outputs has had a strong year, covering all possible aspects of culture. Throughout the year, we’ve looked at, among countless other things, Cards Against Humanity, teaching the humanities at University, class representation in music, domestic abuse in Fifty Shades of Grey, politics in punk, WrestleMania, women in poetry, photojournalism, Night Vale, House Music in Norwich, cuts at the BBC, misogyny in rap music, women and nature writing, Star Wars and adult colouring books.

We’ve now also have a grand total of four series of articles running within the section: our Italian poetry translations, our cartoons and artwork series, our fortnightly topical poetry and our brand new series – Music That Matters, which exists as a collection of conversations with political musicians about their politics and the reason for its inclusion in their musical outputs, and has so far seen interviews with Faintest Idea and Babar Luck. Outside of these series, we’ve been fortunate enough to have additional work within the section including original poetry from Jo Thompson an interview with former NME journalist Paul Wellings, and a two part article looking at the ongoing debate surrounding literature and genre fiction from novelist and comic book writer Mike Carey which led to us receiving a reference in The Guardian.

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And so as the year comes to an end, looking back we have a lot to be proud of. All of this work, and the nearly 400 pieces we have published this year has made 2015 a huge success for The Norwich Radical. I’d like to once again thank our excellent writing team, all of the fantastic external contributors that have helped build our publication from a spark of an idea into the living, breathing publication that it we are now and of course you, the readers, without whom we would not have made it through our first week, let alone our first full calendar year.

I look forward to seeing you all in 2016, where we will bring you more unique takes on the news of the day, more unheard voices, more coverage of culture and the arts and of course our conference, War of Words in February. Have a wonderful new year and see you in 2016.

Cover image by Asia Patel

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