We’re referring primarily to the breakdown of communications  for a local area. This breakdown may be due to the government clamping down on all local media and communications. That is being done slowly but surely already. In the USSR, typewriters and copy machines were under strict control by the State. Yes, the total control of what news and information was disseminated among the public…with complete censorship to boot. A copy machine not registered with the State and under State control would bring you the death penalty in those years.
If you think we’re far away from that, you need to read up on current events and look at the amount of decline in the Independent News Media in the past several years. This is not the scope of this article, but it gives the purpose and intent: forming your own “press” underground.
Create a Network
This can be as simple as picking up a typewriter and supplies, to start out small. Of course, the typewriter is not the answer: the network you create is the answer. What this means is finding and vetting like-minded people in your immediate locale and expanding outward who will commit to a “pony express” type of newspaper…who will disseminate flyers and informational pamphlets when the time is called upon, and who are not afraid to take a stand and continue to practice the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States after a totalitarian government “outlaws” it and forbids freedom of the press.
You will need to gather your supplies. Let’s list the ones you’ll need:
- Typewriter: An electric can be used, but only if there’s power and/or a generator. I recommend the manual version that will allow you to “pound keys” without electricity. There are plenty of different models available for you to pick up on either e-bay or amazon.com  that will fulfill your needs, if you cannot find one locally. Ensure that it works and is serviceable. Make sure you clean and oil the working parts prior to use if it has been sitting “dormant” for a while. Some brands are Olivetti, Sears, Smith-Corona. Pick what works for you. It’s also portable and can be moved when the “going gets tough” and calls for popping smoke.
- Ribbon: There are plenty of ribbons around that fall under the heading of “Universal Ribbon” that will fit in numerous models of typewriter. You may be able to find one that has a spool that is almost identical to the manual model you select. If need be, then modify it. Fabrication is just as important as gathering the supplies.
- Ink: You will need it eventually. Bottles of India Ink will do nicely, as well as a paintbrush approximately the same width as your ribbon. Take two finishing nails and drive them into a scrap piece of wood. Now mount your ribbon on one, and “paint” ink on the outside (exterior/far side) of the ribbon, all the way along the length, taking care to coat it but not excessively/thickly. Then pop your spools back in the typewriter, and voila! Nothing to it.
- Out of Ink? And Home Depot is in ruins and looted? Well, time to make your own ink out of a variety of different materials, such as charcoal dust, some vegetable oil, and lampblack (a form of black soot). There are a million different formulas, and you’ll have to research which one you can make from what you have on hand.
- Paper: Yes, paper is a necessity. Eventually we’ll be making our own, but you can still set aside some cases of plain white paper that will not break your bank account. Be sure to protect the paper inside of plastic waterproof bins that are in a safe place and off the ground.
- Carbon Paper: You can still find it. Pick up as much of it as you can handle. It certainly helps to be able to make copies as you’re typing. Granted, your “circulation” will not be all that high, but you’re going to be in a survival situation where everything is broken down. Do the best you can with what you have.
- Skilled typists: You will need to operate in shifts, if you’re printing information and disseminating news that is important. Examples could be changes in a nuclear or a biologically contaminated area, for better or for worse, or some kind of “barter” system between those who will conduct business honorably and not (to paraphrase Jack London) according to the “Law of Club and Fang.” Typing is a skill that will be important to have.
- A copy machine with supplies: Yes, it doesn’t hurt to go and pick one up that will run off a generator with sealed up extra cartridges for toner and such. Pack it up and keep it from deteriorating…it will be worth it in the long run. You may even be able to hook up a battery array and run off a few hundred copies or so…or off a generator. Could save the time of typing. Always have the “low tech” (the carbon paper) but give yourself the ability to use a copy machine…save it for your print station to pull out of storage and employ if the need arises. Pack the thing in a Faraday cage to be on the safe side and forget about it…until it’s needed.
In our next part we’ll discuss more things about what to print, how to enlarge a “pony express post-SHTF mail route,” and how to do all of this on the Q-T if the government turns worse and tries to silence you with “Peace Officers” on every corner. JJ out!