The Public Eye Magazine Gets a Secret Face Lift

If a publication doesn't look any different, can you say it had a face lift?

Over the years The Public Eye, under PRA's auspices since 1992, has featured monographs on the Right to help progressive activists, advocates, and funders navigate uncharted political waters in which the Right runs high. Libertarianism, Christian Reconstructionism (a movement which supports Biblical law over Constitutional law), Black conservatives, and anti-abortion activists all received in-depth attention in its pages. PRA has effectively used The Public Eye as a forum for in-depth analysis on sectors of the Right and an early warning system on the movement's shifts and trends.

Under its new editor, Abby Scher, starting with the fall 2005 issue, not much appears different. But a closer look reveals that articles are shorter and edited with a journalistic eye, and there are more of them. Our goal is to give the publication a facelift without diluting its analysis. Each issue publishes three or four articles, rather than featuring a single full-length monograph. And a mix of journalists and scholars do the writing and serve on the new editorial board. We've gone back to our roots and once again are publishing quarterly rather than three times a year.

In the Winter 2005 issue, for instance, PRA researcher Pam Chamberlain revealed the power conservative students built on campus—despite their relatively small numbers—by using aggressive campaign tactics and with the occasional backing of national Rightwing groups. Sociologists William Gamson and Charlotte Ryan disentangled how far progressives can go with the analysis that reframing our message will solve all our problems. And Abby Scher explored the importance of research—going in with your eyes open—in fighting the far Right of Montana.

A new Reports in Review section highlights key insights from our allies that we feel should be known by a wider audience.

Political Research Associates director Katherine Ragsdale serves as publisher, and with the editor is devising a marketing and distribution plan to get The Public Eye in the hands of everyone who will benefit from it. They have already launched an e-version (contact if you want to sign up), which links readers to the website and makes it easier to pass articles on to friends and colleagues.

Without solid and unexaggerated research and analysis, liberals and progressives will have a hard time securing a foothold in this tough political environment in which the Right holds power. This research helps us avoid traps, like viewing the Right as impossible to challenge, or even omnipotent. We can identify wedge issues which can offer us political opportunities. And by understanding those we disagree with, we can avoid demonization so that our politics remain respectful and effective. These are our goals with the Public Eye magazine.

Next up is updating and redesigning our website so that it is more inviting and easier to navigate. Stay tuned.

Abby Scher, Public Eye Editor

Fall/Winter 2005

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