Bound Volume Number
Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Prof. Steve Davis
Prof. Gustav Niebuhr
Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism
homeless, street newspapers
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
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.
Gorny, Nicole, "Word on the Street: Examining What Characteristics of a Street Paper and its Host City Best Contribute to Success" (2015). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 896.
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