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Small Magazines, Big Ideas

It's time to send an SOS for the least among us--I mean small independent magazines. They are always struggling to survive while making a unique contribution to the conversation of democracy. Magazines like National Review, The American Prospect, Sojourners, The American Conservative, The Nation, Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, In These Times, World Magazine, The Christian Century, Christianity Today, Columbia Journalism Review, Reason and many others.The Internet may be the way of the future, but for today much of what you read on the Web is generated by newspapers and small magazines. They may be devoted to a cause, a party, a worldview, an issue, an idea, or to one eccentric person's vision of what could be, but they nourish the public debate. America wouldn't be the same without them.

Our founding fathers knew this; knew that a low-cost postal incentive was crucial to giving voice to ideas from outside the main tent. So they made sure such publications would get a break in the cost of reaching their readers. That's now in jeopardy.

An impending rate hike, worked out by postal regulators, with almost no public input but plenty of corporate lobbying, would reward big publishers like Time Warner, while forcing these smaller periodicals into higher subscription fees, big cutbacks and even bankruptcy.

It's not too late. The Postal Service is a monopoly, but if its governors, and especially members of Congress, hear from enough citizens, they could have a change of heart. So, liberal or conservative, left or right, libertarian, vegetarian, communitarian or Unitarian, or simply good Samaritan, let's make ourselves heard.

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