INSP North America director: “Street papers believe in the idea that journalism can bring people together to make the world we live in a better place”

A banner portrays a number of different street paper covers

By Israel Bayer, INSP North America director

  • Journalism is not a crime

As part of an ongoing campaign to highlight the importance of street paper journalism, Israel Bayer, who leads on INSP’s North America project, writes in this op-ed about the power of journalism and storytelling in affecting societal change, and how street papers are doing so whilst also supporting people to maintain a dignified income.

We are proud of the work we are doing at the International Network of Street Papers (INSP). Our journalism and storytelling play a vital role in helping shape the political and cultural landscape in local communities where street papers reside. It’s a gathering place of sorts, which allows readers to come together across experiences to support a healthy society through solutions-based journalism and offering people a hand up through the sales of our street papers.

Through our News Service, we are supporting independent newsrooms at more than 90 street papers to produce high quality reporting on a range of important issues affecting the world we live in.

A story about the challenges of a mother and daughter who found housing after a yearlong journey of experiencing homelessness. An investigative report on how families are being evicted from their homes without just cause and what the government can do to stop it. A feature about how policy makers can curb drug overdoses in their community or create more affordable housing. The stories we are telling are many.

“Thanks to the News Service, we are able to republish articles from other street papers in every issue,” says Sayuri Kusama, an editor at The Big Issue Japan. “This makes our magazine unique, rich and reliable, and able to convey vulnerable people’s voices and profound perspectives on common social issues from around the world.”

A headshot of INSP North America director Israel Bayer, wearing a black shirt, glasses and a cap with the logo of Portland street paper Street Roots

In a time of fake news, and the rise of nationalism and extremism, it’s something we mustn’t take for granted. A free press and using our voice.

From highlighting the impacts of the criminalization of people experiencing homelessness, to the larger environmental and racial justice movement, to sharing the stories of immigrants and refugees — street papers believe in the idea that journalism can bring people together to make the world we live in a better place.

“As some of the few true community newspapers left, street papers, and INSP, provide a crucial connection between readers and telling stories often excluded from traditional coverage,” says K. Rambo, editor-in-chief at Street Roots in Portland, USA.At a time when newspapers and the communities they serve are under constant threat from unaccountable power structures, street papers hold the line.”

The stories we publish in street papers through the News Service also have an immediate impact by supporting individuals in need to maintain a dignified income. Every day, the sales of these publications enable thousands of people to survive: to access healthy food, to buy essential items, to have a safe place to call home, and live better lives.

“I buy Surprise because I simply like the magazine, the quality of the journalistic work, and the choice of topics,” says Katharina Hiller, a reader ofSwiss street paper Surprise. “Social problems don’t get solved by staying silent about them. They have to be given voice.”

In a time of fake news, and the rise of nationalism and extremism, it’s something we mustn’t take for granted. A free press and using our voice.

With the support of readers like you, we are making a difference. Please consider a one-time or recurring donation to INSP today.

A woman in a jacket and glasses holds a street paper next to the campaign slogan "Support journalism that tackles poverty"

Around the world, street paper journalism is under threat from rising costs, misinformation and media monopolies. Your support will keep street paper journalism fearlessly independent, non-profit and empowered to tackle poverty and homelessness.

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