First you may be wondering, what is a “zine”? A zine, also known as fanzine, as Stephen Duncombe describes in Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, are “independent and localized, coming out of cities, suburbs and small towns across the USA, assembled on kitchen tables”. Zines are “noncommercial, nonprofessional, small-circulation magazines which their creators produce, publish, and distribute by themselves” and have a wide range of topics from music to science fiction and more. They come in many different “shapes, styles, subjects, and qualities than one would imagine.” They allowed people to create their “own culture and stop consuming that which is made” for them. Usually zines allowed people to speak about themselves and society freely and honestly. They don’t do this for money or recognition, but just to get their word out there in the hopes it would reach the hands of like-minded individuals. Zines are also relatively inexpensive to create and distribute. “Zinesters” as they are called, are politically self-conscious and considered what they do as a “strike against commercial culture and consumer capitalism” and write about such topics openly in zines. Those that publish zines are identified by what they believe in more so than who they actually are. They were generally the product of someone’s rantings and ravings and a mix between a “personal letter and a magazine”, but it created an underground community around them.
Before digital media, they had to start somewhere, and one example are “zines”. As Michael Mandiberg states in The Social Media Reader, “the line between media producers and consumers has blurred, and the unidirectional broadcast has partially fragmented into many different kinds of multidirectional conversations”. Due to the emergence of new technologies and forms of media, and more access to such tools, has allowed those that were once passive media consumers to now become creators of their own media. These new emerging digital media frameworks range from blogs to social media sites and more, but are pointless and have the potential to fail without audience participation. If these forms of digital media don’t have people using and participating on their sites then they will fail. Such social media tools have allowed for global spread, rather than a limited reach by zines. These new technologies are also free, so now you don’t need to worry about paying for anything and can still say what you want to say. Some sites are limited as to what you can do. Instagram, for instance, is a photo sharing platform. Whereas, Facebook, you can use for photo and video sharing, as well post what’s on your mind in the status field. You can even create a Facebook page if you want to reach a certain demographic of people that share your same views. Zines, as well as these new forms of digital media, are a way for people to freely express themselves and get their message out to as many people that want to hear it.
The only difference is that the new technologies have become commercialized which is the opposite of one of the original ideologies and intent of zines.