Creating a newsletter?

The machinery of print…

We have been thinking of the best way, with the support of our local activity, to compile people, process and tool-kits to publish a newsletter for local activists, existing and prospective.

Below we have listed a couple of free tool-kits, which can be assembled without cost from the web, and some ideas about how we might deploy them to engage members, increase interest and skills and to make news about branch activity and Party policy more widely known.

For Wndows laptops and PC’s

Libre Office: To rival Microsoft Word, for text and layout…and it’s free.

Scribus: Open Source desk top publishing. You can format, layout and produce pre-flight professional pdf’s with this software.

PaintNET: Edit, resize and apply effects to your digital photographs. Photoshop without the cost.

Foxit PDF reader: Read and print pdf’s. You can also play back the text as audio, or quickly convert a pdf to plain text for cut and paste. A great tool.

RIOT: Radical image optimisation tool. You can resize and ‘smush’ your images for print and the web.

For Linux machines

Libre Office: As detailed above, a free word processor and writing tool.
Scribus: Page layout and pro publishing at no cost.
Pinta: Simple image manipulation, running on Linux
KSnapshot: Screen and image capture. A useful tool for claiming portions of an image for the web or print.
Trimage: Simple drag and drop image optimisation tool.

You can find these free programmes by name in the usual Linux repositories or by using your machine Software Centre.(We are working on a similar list of free resources for those Mac users out there…yes, I know).

Who will use the tool-kit we have downloaded?

Good question. We are very keen, in our local area, to revive the ‘Saturday School‘idea. Exercising the notion of coming together as a group, say on a Saturday morning, to explore publishing techniques using a free tool-kit.

We could also devise subsequent sessions around writing articles, photography for print and the web, editorial skills and the what’s needed to plan an effective ‘press’ workflow. Harnessing the imagination and talents of as many branch members as possible.

In the end, for our new newsletter team, we may not even need to meet at all by the simple dint of establishing a free shared folder on one of the many ‘cloud‘ services, Wikipedia explains the Cloud, where editors, contributors and photographers can simply ‘drag and drop‘ their content for the next issue.

Useful ‘cloud storage‘ providers with free accounts

Box: Up to 10gb of free storage for your production files.

Dropbox: 2gb of free space, but plenty of utility services with the provider.

OneDrive: If you have Hotmail or, you have OneDrive folders you can share.

HubIC: 25gb of free storage from this French based provider. We use a pro account in the dayjob and the downloaded utilities keep our local machine backed up brilliantly.

(Just make sure everyone on the editorial team is using the same providerEd).

What this programme of workshops can do, apart from generate useful copy for your Party Branch, is also to extend the fellowship of branch meetings into an environment where generations with different skills, history and culture can share their membership of the Party. (Might even get Linux owners talking to Windows afficianados…Ed)

To finish off this article we’ll devise and publish here half a dozen two hour workshop programmes, with detailed elements and some live samples of work to enable groups to actively take up print production for themselves.

Whether for print or web you need the right tools and dollop of enthusiasm. But a road map is useful too.

Watch this space…