ABOUT

Mission Statement and History - About Max Scherr - The Barb Bows Out

Barb Bows Out
Vol. 30, No. 24, Issue 735 -- July 3, 1980

International News Keyus (INK), the owners of the Berkeley Barb, announces the suspension of Barb publication with this issue. Inc. thanks the Barb's readers and advertisers for their continuing support over the years. The following statement reflects the feelings of the Berkeley Barb staff members.

On July 2, 1980, six men and women worked until the wee hours of the morning to "put to bed" the final edition of the Berkeley Barb. The Barb began as a one person operation on Friday, August 13, 1965, in the kitchen of Max Scherr's Berkley home. It quickly became the most popular -- and certainly the best-known -- "underground" newspaper of the era. Everything the Barb did -- from championing extremist causes to exposing corrupt politics to calling for civil disobedience -- was controversial.

Both at its birth and for years afterwards, the Barb was partisan, polemical, and prophetic -- a forum for minority views, a channel for political protest, a unifying factor among dissidents.

It followed the model of the old Chicago Times: "The duty of a newspaper is to print the news and raise hell." In later years, the Barb toned it down, substituting research for rumors, investigation for accusations, substance for stridency. However, it never strayed from its original commitment -- to present alternative reporting and analysis of significant political and social issues.

But two trends have developed in this century, in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, that have put most "underground" newspapers out of business: the rise of a conservative backlash that may put the Ku Klux Klan in Congress and Ronald Reagan in the White House; and the overwhelming growth of political apathy among those who can't bring themselves to climb aboard the neoconservative bandwagon.

Both of these factors have helped to destroy the Berkeley Barb.

Our circulation is at an all-time low. We have lost money that can never be regained. In fact, the Barb is finally joining the casualty list of the "underground" press it inspired.

We've been told that "the times aren't right" for us; that people want only "good news"; that we are to follow the path of some other "alternative" publications, replacing information with entertainment, hard news with "fluff" features, political concerns with trendy fads.

But stayin' alive was never as important as staying true to an ideal -- and rather than lower its sights or sacrifice its integrity, the Barb has chosen to die -- with dignity and, we hope, with style.

This, then, is the last Berkeley Barb. Read -- enjoy -- and remember.

Photo of the last staff of the Berkeley Barb.



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