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Prison-Based Newspaper Directory Lists 24 Papers in 12 States

The newly launched Prison Newspaper Directory of the Prison Journalism Project (PJP) found 24 prison-based newspapers in 12 states. The project features a short overview of the history of the prison press and republishes stories from prison papers so that they can reach a wider audience, according to Nieman Lab. The Prison Journalism Project provides training and resources to incarcerated journalists who want to tell stories from inside their facilities. The idea for the directory came from San Quentin News, one of the oldest and most established prison newspapers, at California's San Quentin State Prison. Kevin Sawyer, a formerly incarcerated journalist and a contributing editor to PJP, researched other prison newspapers and shared his findings. Kate McQueen, the project’s editor, says, “I think a lot of people just don’t know that [prison newspapers are] out there. Just being made aware that there are people trying to do this work in a prison near where they are is a huge step forward.”

The amount of information on each publication in the directory varies depending on the type of access to the publication that’s available. Some papers are just listed by name and correctional facility, while others have links to digitized archives, websites, and ways to subscribe or donate. Some newspapers have a strong, lengthy history of publishing while others are just getting started, McQueen said. How big each operation is depends on what kind of support it gets from its correctional facility and from community members on the outside. A recent edition of the 16-page Mule Creek Post from California's Mule Creek prison includes an update on a list of state laws that went into effect on January 1, coverage of the California Department of Corrections secretary’s visit to the facility, a creative writing section, a story on hate crimes against Asians, and a list of things to know ahead of being released from the facility. McQueen said the directory can be a jumping-off point for journalists to get a better sense of what incarceration is like in local facilities. “It could be useful and interesting for local journalists because what a journalist inside has that an outside journalist doesn’t have is access,” McQueen said. “Prison journalists and newspapers are able to share what life is actually like inside in a way that a journalist on the outside could never do.”


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