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Internet Is “Gulag” and “Maniacal Matrix”—Nader Publishing Print-Only Newspaper

Argus refugees Joe Sneve and Jonathan Ellis are printing a new newspaper. So is Ralph Nader:

Since April, Nader has been working with a team of about fifteen freelance writers and journalists to publish Capitol Hill Citizen, a new print newspaper that provides a decidedly un-mainstream look at Congress. The paper’s coverage centers on the issues that Nader had devoted his career to exposing — and which, in Nader’s view, the mainstream press refuses to touch: the growth of corporate influence on Capitol Hill, the steady erosion of congressional power, the perennial corruption of U.S. lawmakers and, of course, the follies and failures of the mainstream political media. The Citizen’s mission, said Nader, is to direct national attention toward the sort of big-picture stories that get overlooked by Washington’s scoop-obsessed press corps — and to do it without any of the bells and whistles of digital media.

“Online is a gulag of clutter, diversion, ads, intrusions and excess abundance,” says Nader, explaining the paper’s retro format. “People are fed up with the distraction and the maniacal matrix of the internet” [Ian Ward, “Ralph Nader Thinks People Aren’t Paying Attention to His Progressive Agenda,” Politico, 2022.09.04].

Nader supports his print-only model with an accurate observation about the Harrison-Bergeron-ian distraction facilitated by web pages and a vision of the tangible newspaper as a metaphor for the face-to-face civil discourse that is necessary to democracy:

To Nader’s credit, there is a certain consistency — in a “the-medium-is-the-message” sort of way — between the Citizen’s retro format and Nader’s old-fashioned approach to politics. Both suggest that to reinvigorate democracy, America needs to return to the basics: a face-to-face conversation between a representative and her constituents. A newspaper that you can actually hold in your hands.

“People see a clarity when they have a newspaper in hand,” says Nader. “That’s all they’re reading. Nobody’s trying to grab their attention in any other way. They really appreciate it” [Ward, 2022.09.04].

Nader has published two editions of the Capitol Hill Citizen so far, in April and June. Nader hopes subscriptions will support a monthly printing schedule. You can order a copy of the Capitol Hill Citizen here. Maybe order copies to send to the offices of Senator Thune, Senator Rounds, and Representative Johnson.

Despite Nader’s example, Dakota Free Press will continue to eschew paper and publish solely in the maniacal matrix. But I promise: no flashing ads, no pop-ups.


  1. Sheldon 2022-09-06 13:02

    I don’t know why you continue to bash the work of Sneve and Ellis. The Dakota Scout is free in print and they do publish online, but instead of ads require payment. This is more than a fine trade. They are experienced journalists. We should be promoting their work so that we can continue to keep our legislators accountable. I am sorry to say it, but this website is not capable of that in Pierre…

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-06 13:15

    Um, Sheldon? What “bashing” of the work of Sneve and Ellis do you see here? For that matter, what “bashing” have you seen in the past that makes you use the word “continue”?

    And why is that the main point you use to start the conversation rather than a look at the main point of the article, Nader’s own newspaper and his critique of the media? He certainly wasn’t bashing Sneve and Ellis.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-09-06 15:33

    To prevent factions from distorting public policy and threatening liberty, Madison resolved to exclude the people from a direct role in government. “A pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction,” Madison wrote in “Federalist No. 10.” The Framers designed the American constitutional system not as a direct democracy but as a representative republic, where enlightened delegates of the people would serve the public good.”

  4. P. Aitch 2022-09-06 15:39

    Ralph Nader is 88 years old. Things change, Ralph. You and grudznichts can wish things were like they used to be all day long, but things change.
    The following statement is just simply wrong. “People are fed up with the distraction and the maniacal matrix of the internet”. Ralph peaked when he crucified the Corvair.
    Making paper is unnecessary, wasteful, and polluting.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-06 16:40

    Ralph feels about the Internet in general the way I feel about Instagram and Facebook.

    But I’m not going to spend money either making or purchasing printed material when easy alternatives are available.

  6. grudznick 2022-09-06 19:25

    The young Messrs. Sneve and Ellis have demonstrated extreme editorial license in every “story” they covered. Leave poor Mr. H alone as he competes with these fellows for blogging allegiance but grudznick can tell you how it really is.

    Read the News Watch.

  7. Ben Cerwinske 2022-09-06 20:14

    I find print preferable. While I understand the waste/pollution argument, I think it’s misplaced here. The problem isn’t that we print paper, it’s that we print endless garbage on it. For instance, would it seriously be a big problem today if companies hadn’t started mailing everyone things they didn’t ask for that we then have to immediately throw away? If something is of value, I think it’s justified having a hard copy form.

  8. grudznick 2022-09-06 20:18

    Mr. Nader was wrong about his consumer protection scams, but he’s righter than right about the internets and facebooks. Print away, sir, print away.

  9. All Mammal 2022-09-06 23:04

    I hear ya, Mr. Cerwinske and p. I couldn’t bear all the unnecessary waste from junk mail, urgent mail, cereal boxes, and beer boxes- so I fashioned a mould and deckle from a screen door and started making reams of even more paper! I made some for cards with wildflower seeds in the pulp so the recipient can plant and grow their card, and some adorned with pressed dried flowers, and some just looked like beer brand paper. Now I have piles of paper saving and piles of paper drying and piles of paper, again. This is not how I wanted to turn out like. Now people try bringing me their old screen doors. Fml. Paper can be textural text. Or it can cut you. Or it can be cut into cards and plates to make Samurai armor. Then you can get into a real sword fight.
    I still cannot get the low carbon technique with rice to make rolling paper. Those easterners are too tight lipped! Maybe because they know. Once paper has you- it owns you!
    Goodnight. Just use the old paper to make the new paper.

  10. leslie 2022-09-07 02:00

    “maniacal matrix” is the GOP!

    or how about a maniacal conspiracy?

    A New Mexico county commissioner (aka red-neck Cowboys for Trump founder) was found guilty for violent acts on Jan 6. The state court determined:

    he “incited, encouraged and helped normalize the violence,… overt acts in support of the insurrection”

    and is the first elected official to be removed from office for their involvement in the riot. The ruling also marks the first time a judge has ruled that the incident was an insurrection and the first time since 1869 that a judge has removed a public official.

    what say you mr nader?

  11. leslie 2022-09-07 02:24

    Congress no longer works a five-day week — it’s in on Tuesday, out on Thursday afternoon or evening, not counting ample recesses. Members of Congress spend enormous time raising campaign money, even though they exclusively can change how elections are funded nationwide.

    He proposes Bill No. 1: Congress members will have no employment benefits that are not accorded to all American workers, including pensions, health insurance and deductible expenses.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-07 07:16

    Ah, Ben, if only we could get all printers to use paper responsibly, to produce only material worth reading! Of course, freedom of the press (the actual machinery, the inky invention more wondrous for and supportive of liberty than machine guns) makes such regulation impossible. The best we can do is act within the marketplace (of ideas as well as goods and services) to vote with our eyeballs and our dollars for the printed matter we find valuable.

    Folks looking to make a buck (and win a vote) will inevitably crank out great volumes of garbage, hoping to make their fortune off the 1 in 1,000 dupes who will buy what they’re selling. Junk mail clogs up the print shops. Spam clogs up email. Bots clog up Twitter. We don’t get a comparative advantage in quality as we move from one technology to another. As long as such waste happens, I’m inclined to say we still get environmental advantage moving from print to electronic media.

  13. larry kurtz 2022-09-07 07:33

    SHAPIRO: You did some reporting in Sri Lanka, where people used Facebook and WhatsApp, which is owned by the same company, to gin up ethnic violence. And high-ranking Sri Lankan officials begged Facebook to do something before violence broke out. And you write that every single report was ignored. And then after mobs took to the streets, destroying homes and businesses, the government finally reluctantly blocked all access to social media. Will you read what happened next?

    FISHER: Yeah, sure. (Reading) Two things happened almost immediately. The violence stopped. Without Facebook or WhatsApp driving them, the mobs simply went home. And Facebook representatives, after months of ignoring government ministers, finally returned their calls but not to ask about the violence. They wanted to know where traffic had zeroed out.

  14. John Dale 2022-09-09 21:45

    What’s next? The women of the family being forced to churn butter with their boobs?

    My God .. did the feminists die for NOTHING!?

  15. M 2022-09-10 05:33

    Unfortunately, there are still rural areas where people cannot reach online news thanks to the lack of broadband. In our small town, the weekly newspaper mails more copies out than they deliver in town. The elderly buy papers but won’t read online around here and the youth don’t read newspapers. We did receive the Aberdeen News at our west river school through a program that provided them and lessons for free. Those hard copies were passed around, taken home, and greatly appreciated.

    At the same time, more copies of papers are printed than sold or read. They get tossed instead of recycled.

    In the 1980’s, my college friends and I recycled enough newspapers each month to take ourselves out to the best breakfast house in town. Here, I’m 120 miles away from a facility.

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