Student-Created Online Magazine Pushes Readers to Take Actions

Rebecca Littman ’08, Thomas Coen ’07, Stacie Szmonko ’07 and Aaron Sussman ’07 are the editors of Incite Magazine, which aims to bridge political commentary with the activist community.
Posted 12/20/06
The power of insight, the power to incite. That’s the motto of a new magazine created by Wesleyan students that links progressive political commentary with action.

Incite Magazine founded by Thomas Coen ‘07, Aaron Sussman ‘07 and Rebecca Littman ‘08, features articles that call for a compassionate and honest world while providing readers with the tools and resources to help fight for it. The magazine is updated online as new content is edited at and augmented by a periodically-published print edition.

Launched Nov. 20, Incite was founded by with a grant from Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress. The Wesleyan Student Assembly also supports the not-for-profit publication.

According to the magazine’s mission statement,“ Incite Magazine is a collaboration among students at Wesleyan who believe that progressive ends must be realized through free exchanges of ideas, opinions, and critiques that are then applied to action.” The editors not only aim to offer incisive, well-researched commentary and bold, responsible reporting, but to provide a network for writers and activists who share progressive principles and to conclude each article with information on how to become active and involved.

“We started Incite Magazine because we saw a gap between the political commentary community and the activist community,” Coen says.  “We wanted to bridge that divide –so that people don’t just analyze what the problems are, but also connect that to what people can do about those problems, how they can work to make the world a better place.”

Connecting the article with action is what sets Incite apart from other online magazines, Sussman explains. At the end of every article is a “What You Can Do About It” segment.

“I will often read an article in the progressive press that exposes the truth and evokes anger. But the next step is asking, ‘what can I do about this?’” Sussman says. “Every article in Incite, provides ways for readers to get involved in social action, whether that is writing to Congress, contacting local media or joining a demonstration.”

The editors also encourage readers to submit their own views.

Incite has eight sections including Iraq, The Constitution, The Media, Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, Labor and Economics, Science and Technology and Activism. Under each of these headings, readers will find articles on that topic. For example, under the Science & Technology heading, Leah Katz writes about “Arming Women in the Battle Against HIV/AIDS: The Case for Microbicides,” and under the Foreign Policy heading, Coen writes about “A Life-Long Supply of Genocide” and “Bush’s Democracy Doctrine.”

Sussman’s article “They Hate Our Freedom: The Truth About the Military Commissions Act,” under The Constitution section, was picked up by at least six other publications and was an official source on Google News.

On the magazine’s online version, readers can listen to several interviews conducted by members of the Incite staff. Coen and Ben Levinger have posted their interviews of Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s former democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate and Emily Biuso, internship director for The Nation, and others. Sussman has posted many interviews, including with Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war peace activist and Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.

In addition, the Web site offers an overabundance of useful links to sites on Iraq, law and human rights, media resources, media activists, government watchdogs, think tanks and other online magazines. It also features an action calendar, which includes upcoming events that involve political activism, advocacy or expression.

“Incite wants to be a resource for several activist groups, and be used as a tool to connect them to the Wesleyan, Middletown, and broader community,” Littman says.

The editors each have extensive experience with activism and journalism, ranging form working as a page in the U.S. Senate to interning with the ACLU and People for the American Way to studying political policy in Uganda and Cameroon. Additionally, Sussman has had articles  published in several publications including, the Atlantic Free Press,, Eat the State! and In Motion Magazine.

Since three of the four editors will be graduating this spring, they are seeking writers, editorial staff, activists, photographers, designers and technology and Web specialists. The editors hope younger members of the Wesleyan community will take over the reigns in future years.

Stacie Szmonko ’07 is the publication’s editor-in-chief. She hopes the experience with Incite will lead her to a career with a political magazine after college. Meanwhile, it’s an ideal way to gain experience and voice her opinions.

“I’ve always had a deep interest in progressive politics, critiquing the mainstream media and writing argumentative articles,” she says. “We hope new writers will join our discussion and help us create a magazine and community that can positively influence the way we see the world and our own potential to change it – something that can Incite true progress.”

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor