Friday, February 6, 2015

Decarcerating Vision 2015 Part 2: Media Print and Virtual

Link to Part 1

The following itemizes our media and social media resources.  

Printed paper: The NJ Decarcerator  

First issue:  

6000 copies printed, about half distributed so far.  Contact us at to get 100 copies to distribute in your city.  Next issue in beginning of planning stage.

Goals for paper: Distribute the 3000 or so remaining – get at least some out on visitation lines.  Those who have stacks of papers in their car or sitting somewhere – get them into the neighborhoods, onto the campuses.  The distribution effort should be more strategic and also it would be ideal if we can get discussions going around the topics addressed in the paper.  We are starting to  prepare the next issue possibly for the spring.  However that will not happen until the current issue is out completely.

Internet outlets:

This site includes opinions, analysis, press releases, announcements, calendar events and other information around decarceration and related topics.  In all there have been about 10 distinct authors and there is an open invitation for more to participate.  The blog is getting more attention but is still a very low traffic blog – with an article averaging about 200 views though we did recently have one that achieved more than 1000 views.

Goals: The blog site is one of our most promising social media outlets right now.  While in no position to stand up next to national blog sites that attract thousands of readers, we are starting to have greater impact, with multiple writers and hundreds of readers every day.  However there are millions in NJ that need to be activated for decarceration so there is tremendous need for growth.  I would like to see the blog site serve more of a news reporting function – to report on the decarceration and tangentially related operations of activists around NJ as events unfold.  

Let our blog site be a megaphone not only for our organization but for all of the groups with whom we partner.  Hopefully we will continue to add more writers and produce quality content daily so that 1000s turn to us regularly for news and information about what is going on minute by minute, day by day IN THE STRUGGLE!   

I will also be working with Queneke King to liven up the look and functionality of the site.  We are looking for more writers – both those who might just want to write once and those who would like to write regularly.  Ideally we can produce at least 2 articles a day to give people a reason to check every day for new stuff – or maybe get on a schedule so people know what days the new stuff comes out regularly.  If you are interested in being a writer at  – contact  immediately.

Organizational website:  

Contains links to our newspaper, blog, text of NJ Decarceration Act, other aspects of our work.

Goals: The website needs to be brightened up and modernized and we need talented site maintenance.  We need to be able to collect data from the site so that we can build ourselves out.  We also need a plan to enter the data from our printed petition and plan an outreach effort to those that have already aligned with us.

Nightly “paper”: NJ Decarcerator Daily:   / @DecarcGardState   

This paper is automatically produced from content received and forwarded by twitter account @DecarcGardState .  If you tweet relevant links to that account with the HT #DecarcerateNJ , your article will get picked up in that night’s paper.  The paper routinely includes several recent articles from the blog site of Decarcerate the Garden State.

Goals: The main goal is to have several dozen to several hundred social media users and tweeters that RT and share and spread the daily newspaper link.

From both these counts, are tweeted a steady barrage of links regarding our efforts, including our blog articles, relevant links, other NJ related news.  Also the nightly paper NJ Decarcerator Daily is tweeted several times per day.  There are several loyal followers that RT our stuff.  It does seem that the tweets produce interests in our links and traffic to the blog site so there is some level of effectiveness.

Goals: Pathetically seeking to multiply the number of followers into the thousands and seeking quality followers that can RT our materials – multiple of our links, one or more times a day.  Follow:
@bwitanek / @DecarcGardState

Facebook group:  

Includes internal discussion of organization, relevant news, proposals, calls to action, occasional debate.  Having close to 600 members.  Sometimes utilized as a decision making sounding board for action endorsements.

Goals: Ideally links posted to the group would be picked up by the members of the group and forwarded and tweeted.  Ideally we would have over 100 members visiting the site daily and also participating in discussions in the group.  Also if more of the members can post links and ideas more regularly into the group that would help multiply the usefulness of the group. Remember - group rule - liking is good - sharing is better!

Facebook Page: 


The page differs from the group in that it is less interactive.  It is a good way for us to promote our events and to do more random outreach.  For the group, we usually only add those who have already identified with us in some way but since the page is an "opt in" invite system - we can invite all or most of our friend lists and let people decide if they want to then "like" our page.

Goals: Ideally our members would each take the time to go through their entire friend list or at least a portion of it and invite most of their friends.  Then we can use the page to promote all of our outlets and activities and at the same time it can help us identify those who want to get more involved in being part of our organizing and our struggle.


We routinely videotape part or all of our events and make sure the videos are available on Youtube fairly quickly and routinely promote the videos.  In this way our educational events become accessible to anyone with an internet access device – not only those that are physically present.

Goals: To get the videos that representable and collected all in one link and develop a plan to continue to press them into the public view.
We need to figure out  how to get traction – particularly with gems like the Johanna Fernandez presentation at our inaugural panel discussion from last July 30 at Newark City Hall – which only has about 300 views and should have 300K.  In fact – if you have not watched it yet – you should allocate ½ of your day – TODAY – and take it in.  It really is a good solid ½ intro to the this whole issue!

Media outreach: 

Particularly for our Tour de Decarcerate panel discussions, we have regularly produced and worked press releases in attempts to get advance announcement type coverage for the events and also to get actual coverage and writes ups on the events themselves, with varying levels of success.  Key to such success and what has been missing in some of the press outreach, is the telephone follow up and the salesmanship to editors and reporters about the importance of providing media coverage whether it be advance or follow up, of the event.  The press releases have been written by several members in one case – the first time for one of the press release writers.

Goals: More organized pressoutreach engaginging more members in every aspect of the effort including follow up calls to the media.   Also we want to teach more members the art of writing a press release, a talent that you will be able to apply to other efforts you support.  I would also like to get all of our links to our media coverage collected into one place so that we can draw upon them as a resource for promotions of our efforts.

Over All:

In our first 9 months of existence we have produced a wide range of information in varying formats.  We have reached thousands with this information and communicate with hundreds on a daily basis.  We have also through the media efforts coupled with the personal footwork identified dozens of solid, skilled, dedicated (to our effort) people with varying perspectives and diverse backgrounds and we have meshed as a team and produced much quality events, organizational infrastructure and impact on the struggle to decarcerate in NJ and beyond.

While sidestepping for now the debate as to how much emphasis should be placed on social media – a fair self evaluation of the effectiveness of the social media impact is that it has *not* been as effective as it could be.  No aspect of our social media work has “gone viral” – while we have significant stable reach – the full potential of our social media impact has not been realized.

For example – this fine presentation by Johanna Fernandez at our City Hall street panel only has 300 views . . . it should have 300K or 3 million views by now.  That is how important it is.  That is how many people in NJ need this information – this analysis. 

Social media is saturated with competing well meaning messages from a myriad of causes all important to our survival and well being.  It is hard to compete and those like myself who are relentless in promotion of the social media message can frankly come across as shrill and annoying – like we love ya Bob but don’t you think that’s enough for the day?

What my hope is – that there would be a few dozen dedicated promoters of our social media message that would take it upon themselves to retweet and forward our links.  There are a handful and they definitely multiply the social media dent that we make.  If you are interested in being one of part of an organized to promote our materials daily – contact    – or just take it upon yourself (as some do) to grab the links from the group and the blog site and forward them each and every day – into the groups and pages where people are paying attention as well as on your own sites and pages.  It helps when various people are forwarding the materials to avoid the “oh, him again” reaction.

There is legitimate critique of social media activism – or click-tivism.  But the truth is that Decarcerate the Garden State has connected with hundreds – who have contributed to the growth of our impact – through the social media.  Therefore we should continue to press the social media effort . . . we need dedicated multipliers that help with the relentless forward and spreading our message across the the groups, pages, by reblogging.   Of course work in social media and other media outreach is hand in glove with our street organizing and our community meetings and other face to face work.

The bottom line is that we have made great strides with the above mentioned but we can be 10 or 100 times more effective in each of these areas once we build a core of a dozen, two dozen, ore more dedicated participants who can contribute to one or more of the above EVERY SINGLE DAY because as the motto on the NJ Decarcerator Daily states:

Tearing down the walls of Mass Incarceration ---a Daily Task!

To be part of the daily team, contact       or better yet - just start promoting the materials!

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