Winter Patriot: Modern-day samizdat brings news to public places

Steve Bagley

He calls himself the Winter Patriot, after Thomas Paine. His is the next-generation samizdat movement, a grassroots effort to disseminate information utilizing a unique marriage between the Internet and print media.

RAW STORY first learned of Winter Patriot and his blog after he linked to Raw's exclusive, "A Massive Secret Bombing Campaign." As a result of that exchange, Raw and Winter Patriot have communicated in an effort to collaborate.

The Whispering Campaign,, is a clearinghouse for printer-formatted one or two-page documents that its spokesman exhorts the reader to print out and disseminate in visible locations -- subways, telephone poles and doctor's offices are all places that come to mind.


Winter Patriot does not work alone; there are eight or ten other volunteers who assist the website. The campaign began in May.

Unlike RAW STORY or blogs, Winter Patriot and The Whispering Campaign do not write articles of their own. All the articles posted on the site come from newspapers or blogs that WP believes should be distributed to the general public. This is a modern-day take on the samizdat, a method of disseminating flyers and other periodicals branded illegal by the Soviet government.

When asked why he chose to follow that format, he responded, "We're trying to get the news out beyond the large but still limited group of Internet readers. We have no money and only a few tools.

"I don't think this is going to save the world or anything," he admitted. "At best it might become one drop in a bucket ... but how else are we going to fill that bucket?"

Winter Patriot knows that his is just one effort, and a small mark on the blogosphere.

"As far as the big picture is concerned, I think we all need to get involved in as many ways as possible and we need to do the best we can given the resources we happen to have. Once this idea hit me over the head, there was no way that I could NOT do it ... or at least try it!"

Fully aware that the blogosphereís audience is limited by a number of factors, including not only availability of Internet access but also ideology -- it is unlikely that too many supporters of President Bush would regularly read BradBlog, the site on which Winter Patriot started his work in the blogosphere.

Winter Patriotís modus operandi takes that into account. His is specifically a grassroots movement.

His method is one based on pragmatism -- the combination of flyer dissemination and blogging allows for an increased readership. If he or his group just distributed flyers, he believes they'd reach far fewer people.

"Look at the power of a website compared to a guy standing on a street corner making speeches," he says. "People all over the country downloaded hundreds of pages from our site this weekend while none of us were lifting a finger."

"We want to give the truth a chance," he added. "We want to provide tools for ordinary Americans -- people who are concerned but not wealthy, and who want to do something but are scared to do anything too visible -- to help their neighbors learn about things they will never hear or see on television... We want to try to counterbalance -- at least in some small way -- the fact that a wingnut blowhard like [fill in the blank] can get on TV anytime to say anything at all, but anyone who is seriously critical of this administration is getting buried."

While only one of many blogs now flooding the Internet, Winter Patriotís Whispering Campaign serves a unique purpose: the dissemination of information by and for the people, in a media that can be accessed by everyone, even those not connected to the Web. Thus, his intent is backed by a true populism.

Originally published on Friday July 22, 2005.


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