Mark Sabbatini

Longyearbyen, Norway · 1 Items

Icepeople "subscription"

Help keep the world's northernmost alternative newspaper alive! For six years, Icepeople (at icepeople.net) has been a free and ad-free weekly newspaper reporting about life, politics, science, adventure and other general weirdness (and almost everything is nearly always weird) in Svalbard, a small group of islands halfway between the northern tip of mainland Norway and the North Pole. But after blowing our life savings for the sake of a labor of love, we're forced to acknowledge our "spent lots, charge nothing" approach is a really, really stupid business model.

Icepeople is based in Longyearbyen, a town about 750 miles from the North Pole, where snowmobiles are used to commute to work a good part of the year and a rifle is necessary when wandering past the city limits due to polar bears. Visitors and plenty of locals say being here is like being on a different planet – physically and socially.

Kids get stranded at the North Pole when days when a figure skater decides to be a prima dona and use up all the hot water at base camp, conspiracy theorists wonder if mad scientists or zombies are secretly hiding in the Doomsday Seed Vault that's supposed to save mankind after the Apocalypse, and researchers dress up in crude polar bear costumes and run around seeing if the disguise scares reindeer away faster. There's also plenty of serious extremes, so to speak, including glacier crevasse and avalanche rescues, a longtime mining town being drastically remade by global economics and global warming, and fears about hostile military/economic/espionage activities from countries like Russia and China with whom we have bizarre "cooperative/conflict" relationships.

The paper was founded by a lifelong journalist who got his first newspaper job nearly 30 years ago, and has since worked at newspapers ranging from The Antarctic Sun (yes, in Antarctica) to the Los Angeles Times. He's worked in more than 60 countries on all seven continents covering everything from politics to science to jazz to technology. He visited Longyearbyen in January of 2008 to write about the town's mid-winter jazz festival, and decided almost immediately to stop traveling and move here to start the newspaper.

The town has a population unlike any other, with residents from more than 30 countries who stay an average of six years. As such, folks are incredibly diverse and many don't speak or read Norwegian well, making Icepeople their only source of local news. The newspaper is also popular in the outside world with those interested in the polar regions for fun or as a profession. The goal has always been to keep the paper free and to avoid ads if possible. But money is necessary to keep the newspaper alive even though nobody earns a penny in salary, and therefore our first choice is to attempt to raise what we need for printing and other costs through donations.

Thanks for the support and don't hesitate to contact our editor at marksabbatini@yahoo.com with any questions.

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