The Great Speckled Bird (newspaper)

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The Great Speckled Bird
Great speckled bird v2 n17 cover.jpg
Cover of the v.2, n.17 issue (1969)
PublisherAtlanta Cooperative News Project
FoundedMarch 8, 1968; 54 years ago (1968-03-08)
Ceased publication1976; 47 years ago (1976)
OCLC number1751560
WebsitePreserved at
Free online

The Great Speckled Bird was a counterculture underground newspaper based in Atlanta, Georgia from 1968 to 1976 and 1988 through 1990.[1][2] Commonly known as The Bird,[2] it was founded by New Left activists from Emory University and members of the Southern Student Organizing Committee, an offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society. Founding editors included Tom and Stephanie Coffin, Howard Romaine and Gene Guerrero Jr.[3] The first issue appeared March 8, 1968, and within 6 months it was publishing weekly. By 1970 it was the third largest weekly newspaper in Georgia with a paid circulation of 22,000 copies.[citation needed] The paper subscribed to Liberation News Service, a leftist news collective. The office of The Great Speckled Bird at the north end of Piedmont Park (240 Westminster Dr.) was firebombed and destroyed on May 6, 1972.[4] In a letter to the editor of the New York Review of Books, Jack Newfield et al. note that the bombing occurred after the paper published an exposé of the mayor of Atlanta.[5]

Writing in the Atlanta Magazine, Justin Heckert described The Bird's approach as one that treated objectivity as "a myth perpetuated by the capitalist press."[6] According to a statement in The Bird, "These are our opinions and we are entitled to them, they are not written anywhere else. So, don't expect us to tell both sides of the story. The big newspapers, magazines, TV and radio do that all day long. Here you will hear our side of things."[citation needed] The Bird chose to report on issues not covered in mainstream newspapers. The paper focused on the war in Vietnam, black power, women's liberation, gay activism, red-baiting, Atlanta politics, labor, and environmental issues. The Bird's Women's Caucus challenged the paper's advertising norms and pushed the collective to share tasks more equitably.[7] The Bird included comix by Ron Ausburn and contributions on art and culture by Miller Francis.

The newspaper, affectionally known as "The Bird," was originally named after the country-gospel song of the same name.[4][6]

In 2011 Georgia State University made a digital archive of the Bird available online.[6]

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  1. ^ Zald, Anne E.; Cathy Seitz Whitaker (1990). "The underground press of the Vietnam era: An annotated bibliography". Reference Services Review. 18 (4): 76–96. doi:10.1108/eb049109.
  2. ^ a b "Great Speckled Bird". Digital Collections. Georgia State University Libraries. 2011. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. ^ Gregg L. Michel. Struggle for a Better South: The Southern Student Organizing Committee, 1964-1969. Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 978-1-4039-6010-8
  4. ^ a b Springston, Jonathan (2006-05-09). "Great Speckled Memories: Back When The Bird Was Really The Word (Update 1)". Atlanta Progressive News. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  5. ^ Newfield, Jack; Hentoff, Nat; Stone, I.F.; Kunstler, William M. (1972-09-21). "LNS [Liberation News Service]". New York Review of Books. New York. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  6. ^ a b c "The Great Speckled Bird Flies Again: GSU preserves the legendary underground paper". Atlanta. December 2011.
  7. ^ Gabb, Sally (2011). "A Fowl in the Vortices of Consciousness: The Birth of the Great Speckled Bird." Insider histories of the Vietnam era underground press. Part 1. Wachsberger, Ken. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9781609172206. OCLC 774285406.

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