Saturday, August 4, 2007

Street Papers of the World, Unite!

Executive Director Laura Thompson Osuri and Editor Koki Smith lugged dozens of copies of Street Sense to Portland, Ore., the last weekend in July for a conference of street papers across North America.

Sponsored by Street Roots, Portland’s street paper, and the Society of Professional Journalists, the conference helped more than 40 writers, editors and volunteers from 19 papers across the U.S. and Canada share ideas and best practices for improving fundraising, editorial content and organizational planning.

The papers spanned a wide spectrum: from Real Change, the Seattle-based weekly paper which sells nearly 50,000 copies every month, to Street Corner, a 1,000-circulation monthly paper based in Vancouver, British Columbia, to the Denver Voice, a new paper to launch in Colorado in August.

All share the goal of promoting public awareness of poverty and homelessness while providing opportunities for homeless vendors to earn an income. But most employ widely differing formats, printing quality and editorial philosophies, as Koki learned much to her fascination.
Our very own Laura, who serves as the association’s president, was re-elected to the board for another two years at the conference.

The 28 papers of the North American Street Newspaper Association reach nearly 300,000 people each month. The association recently partnered with the International Network of Street Papers, based in Glasgow, Scotland, to share resources and content. The resulting Street News Service, a compilation of stories from street papers across the world, reaches nearly 32 million people each month. Street Sense is a frequent contributor to the service.

The next North American street paper conference is scheduled for 2009 so that members can attend the international conference, to be held in either Australia or Scotland, next year.

--Koki Smith