As you will discover, Tony and his marvelous publication are two of the best kept secrets we political educators and agitators for social justice have in our arsenal. Domiciled in the Great White North, Tony publishes one of the finest radical journals in existence.
In terms of content, contributing writers, and presentation, ColdType’s quality is unparalleled.
Judge for yourself:http://www.coldtype.net/
To learn more about ColdType, Tony Sutton, and Tony’s highly refined insight on the dynamics of oppression (which was forged in the crucible of his involvement in the struggle against South African Apartheid), let’s move on to the interview:1. Your publication has been characterized as the “Counterpunch of Canada,” yet many US Americans are unfamiliar with it. How would you describe ColdType?
“I’m flattered by the comparison; I’ve been a fan of Counterpunch for years. But it’s a bit like comparing a newspaper with a magazine. As a monthly service, ColdType can never provide the quantity of information put out by the daily Counterpunch, nor do we want to. The acid test for ColdType content is: Will it still be relevant in six months’ or two years’ time? We’re interested in journalism that has legs as well as style.
“On a philosophical level, however, there is a similarity: both CP and CT are as interested in the quality of the writing as the subject being discussed, and both want to help foster a fairer, more equitable, society.”
“In its original tabloid format ColdType promised to provide readers with “Writing Worth Reading From Around The World.” That’s still our basic mission – I’m constantly seeking writing that has something to say – and says it in an intelligent, well-reasoned way.
“ColdType is dedicated to excellence in progressive thought: the site is full of powerful book excerpts, wonderful essays and some of the finest columnists in the online world. Great thinking. Great writing. Great design. That’s what we try to achieve in each monthly package.”3. What is the approximate readership of your publication?
“The ColdType web site gets between 150,000-250,000 hits a month, depending on the amount of cross-postings we get. Most of the hits come in the first two weeks of publication, which is why I’d like to publish more often. But, right now, there’s no time for that . . .
The ColdType Reader, just one part of coldtype.net, has been lifted by other web sites around the world, so we know it gets lots more downloads than our web counter tells us but, as the other sites don’t supply figures, it’s hard to find out the precise circulation. One of the good about being an Internet-based magazine is that there’s a completely different circulation model than that of mainstream publishing; the numbers don’t grind to a halt when a new issue is published – we’re still getting hundreds of downloads each month of issues published 18 months ago.”4. How long have you been publishing Cold Type?
“ColdType began as a tabloid magazine 13 years ago in 1994. I launched it while corporate design consultant for Thomson Newspapers’ North American operation. My ambition was to publish a weekly tabloid highlighting great newspaper journalism from around the world, but I didn’t have enough cash (or, if truth be told, the courage) to do my own prototype. So I used corporate cash to do it, as a publication for the group’s journalists. In hindsight, I realise I should have gathered the cash and published it myself – that first issue was a runner up in the Canadian National Magazine Awards contest for an 8-page photo essay by Toronto photographer Russell Monk on the genocide in Uganda; and the response to those first 2,000 copies was amazing.
“Five issues of the printed ColdType were produced, all of which are on our web site http://www.coldtype.net/old.html Ironically, Monk’s Rwanda photo essay isn’t there yet – I lost the page files 10 years ago, but we’ve just tracked them down, so it will be in the next issue http://www.coldtype.net/photo.html
“When I left Thomsons in 1996, ColdType ceased publication. Thomsons gave me the title when they got out of the newspaper business in 2000 after which it sat gathering dust for a couple of years until I had a brainwave and registered ColdType.net to publish the magazine – still as a tabloid – in pdf format. After one issue, I realized that the newspaper format was not ideal for an online publication, so turned it into the format you see it today, with long, essay-length articles produced as downloadable pdfs.
“The ColdType Reader followed a couple of years ago. Its genesis was in a collection of essays titled OtherVoices http://www.coldtype.net/voices.04.html that I had introduced to coldtype.net in 2004, and later abandoned as too time-consuming. (Look out for a separate e-book of the Best of OtherVoices later this year). I realized there was a place for shorter magazine-length articles a couple of years ago and ColdType/2 was born; I renamed it The ColdType Reader an issue later as the title was confusing readers.”5. You have published some iconic figures from the Left. How do you draw such intellectual talent?
“I hope they’re attracted by the philosophy and quality of the publication. Right from its first printed issue, ColdType has carried the work of great writers and photographers, and I believe that quality attracts quality – our contributors certainly aren’t lured into ColdType by money, because there isn’t any. I’m proud to have fine contributors such as George Monbiot, John Pilger, Greg Palast, Edward S. Herman, Uri Avnery, Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, Loretta Napoleoni, Robert Fisk (who has been with us since the first printed issue) and many others, and I hope they feel the same way about ColdType.”6. Your PDF format is unique; I am not aware of another sociopolitical or news site that employs it. What led you to employ PDF?
“Although I appreciate the reach of the Internet, I’m not too keen on its limited formatting. And, like many other internet readers, I still like to print out stuff, read it and file it – holding a publication in your hands and turning pages is so much more fun than reading on a computer monitor. The great thing about the pdf format is that it allows me to publish without having the hassles of advertising or subscriptions or print runs or returns or paying printing bills and postage – or making a profit! And I think there’s something respectful in presenting great journalism in a manner that avoids the generic blandness of html, making it instead enticing, unique readable. Just look at our collection of 50 of Joe Bageant’s essays – http://www.coldtype.net/joe.html – as an example of what I mean.”