Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-5-2015

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Steve Davis

Honors Reader

Prof. Gustav Niebuhr

Capstone Major

Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism

Capstone College

Public Communications

Audio/Visual Component



homeless, street newspapers

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories



By creating opportunities for microentrepreneurship, street papers have been tackling homelessness and poverty in U.S. cities since the late 1980s. Homeless or low-income vendors purchase these social justice-oriented publications for a fraction of the cover price, and then resell them on street corners for profit. By 2015 the self-help model had spread to 35 U.S. cities, according to the International Network of Street Papers. These cities range significantly in characteristics such as population size, climate, geographic location and political atmosphere.

Drawing on interviews with more than 20 editors, staff and vendors at North American street papers, I have identified five factors that tend to contribute to a paper’s success in any given city. These factors address both qualities of the host city, such as significant pedestrian traffic, and qualities of the paper itself, such as the support of a pre-existing nonprofit organization. I next considered these factors in the context of one case study: Groundcover News in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This case study in turn provided insight into the final aspect of the capstone: determining whether Syracuse, New York, could support a successful street paper. Based on analysis of census data, interviews with representatives from Syracuse-based social service organizations and the application of previously gathered information, I concluded that a street paper in Syracuse would face no insurmountable obstacles.

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