Benefit of Street Newspapers

A few days ago when I was walking around downtown Denver, a woman was selling the Denver Voice street newspaper along the 16th Street Mall for a suggested $1 donation so I ended up buying one.

Unlike a regular publication, the Voice is a street newspaper that focuses on issues related to poverty and homelessness. The papers are sold by area homeless or marginalized people, providing them employment and an outlet for expression and communication to the general public through writing articles and publishing their artwork. A small portion of the proceeds (usually 25 cents) go to the cost of publication, with the remainder (75 cents) going to the vendor.

Similar publications exist in other large cities, such as Street Sense in Washington, DC. Street papers not only provide a means of self-help for homeless to get back on their feet, but can also foster more positive interaction between the homeless and the more fortunate. Many people in large cities get turned off by the homeless who ask for money and change, but do not appear to be doing anything to help themselves. In contrast, street newspapers should be supported and the vendors deserve respect for taking responsibility to better their own lives.

> Denver Voice
> Wikipedia: Street newspaper
> North American Street Newspaper Association
> International Network of Street Papers


  1. I bought one of these nearly every week in Seattle, where it’s called “Real Change”. (The name acquired new meaning as the Obama campaign rolled on.) It generally had a left lean on the national stories, but just plain level-headed articles on the local. It also had a few opinion articles that were obviously just blowing off steam, but they were interesting too. The nice crossword doesn’t hurt either.

    There is a persistent problem with these papers though: unauthorized dealers. Some of the folks selling the papers weren’t acquiring them from the publisher, but rather just picking them out of the trash or off the ground. The paper would have trash inside it or would be ruffled on the outside, but it also reduced the profit of the people buying the papers legitimately, because they sold less and pocketed a smaller portion. Watch out for it if you buy one.

  2. Brady Dorman

    January 8, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Interesting point … I hadn’t thought about the issue of re-sale of these papers.

  3. Brady Dorman

    January 8, 2009 at 3:15 am

    However… I think the Denver Voice .. and other street papers I imagine … have T-shirts, etc. for vendors to wear. Not sure the exact situation in Seattle, but it seems like much of this problem could be resolved through some kind of authentic badge / ID / attire for official vendors. Then it is really just the public’s responsibility to only buy from clearly authorized vendors.

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