Street News

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Street News was a street newspaper sold by homeless people in New York City, New York, the USA. Established in 1989, it is the earliest modern street paper still extant and the beginning of the American street newspaper movement. It aimed to provide a way of self-sufficiency to the many homeless and unemployed people in New York.

The creation of Street News quickly inspired the founding of many other street newspapers, including Chicago's StreetWise[1] and Britain's The Big Issue;[2] the paper has been called a "pioneer" for the street paper movement.[3] Street News and The Big Issue have become prototypes of street papers worldwide.[4]

As of 2002 the editor was John Levi "Indio" Washington Jr. Street News prints 3,000 copies of six issues per year, sold by 15 people getting 75 cents out of the $1.25 price.[5][6]

As of current time, Street News is no longer an active publication and New York City has no official street paper.


Street News began publication in October 1989, founded by its Editor-In-Chief, rock musician Hutchinson Persons, founder of Street Aid and Wendy Oxenhorn (then Koltun).[7][4][8] It was funded by individuals and Corporations like Cushman and Wakefield as well as selling advertising space in the paper. New York Times president Lance Primis joined the organization's Board of Advisors and gave special assistance. It was launched with advertisements on subways and buses donated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the homeless salesforce was given permission to sell Streetnews on the trains, weeks after panhandling was declared illegal on the subways. The New York Times came out with the first article written by Sam Roberts which then garnered wide media attention. Sales grew very quickly from an initial 50,000 copies to over a million sold in its first four months of publication. Celebrities such as Paul Newman, Liza Minnelli and the Beach Boys contributed opinion pieces.[4][1] It sold for 75 cents, with the sellers getting 45 cents (plus the first 10 copies free).[9] Co-founder Wendy Oxenhorn left Streetnews after the first year as stated in a NY Times article over "philosophical differences on how to run the organization."

The initial media and public excitement about the paper eventually faded, and the paper experienced financial troubles in the early 1990s;[4][10] Some staff left and started the short-lived Crossroads Magazine.[11] The paper was taken over by its printer, Sam Chen of Expedi Printing, and Persons left the paper.[10] Chen attempted to turn a profit from Street News, but financial problems continued into the mid-nineties, with changing public attitude towards the homeless, low content and attempts by the city to sweep away homeless people.[12] Furthermore, in 1991 New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority instituted a policy prohibiting the hawking of newspapers on the subways, which had been vendors' main selling place; this added to Street News's troubles.[9] By the mid-1990s, Street News' sales had dropped significantly and some predicted that the newspaper was going to end.[1] Eventually, though, the paper survived and revitalized,[4] but never reached the circulation of the first few months.[citation needed] It has since ceased to exist.

Former homeless man and crack addict Lee Stringer was first vendor and then editor and columnist for Street News.[13] He is now a writer and motivates young people to stay away from crime.[12][14]


  1. ^ a b c Green, Norma Fay (1998). "Chicago's StreetWise at the Crossroads: A Case Study of a Newspaper to Empower the Homeless in the 1990s". Print Culture in a Diverse America. eds. James Philip Danky, Wayne A. Wiegand. University of Illinois Press. pp. 34–49. ISBN 0-252-06699-5. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  2. ^ "The Big Issue History". The Big Issue. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  3. ^ Magnusson, Jan A. "The transnational street paper movement". Situation Sthlm. Archived from the original on 29 June 2006. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e Heinz, Teresa L.; Levinson, David (2004). Encyclopedia of Homelessness (illustrated ed.). SAGE. p. 539. ISBN 0-7619-2751-4. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  5. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (2002-12-08). "Following Up". The New York Times. pp. section 1 page 57 of the New York edition. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  6. ^ Rosenbaum, Andrew (2003-02-10). "The News from the Street". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  7. ^ Brown, Ann M. (2002). "Small Papers, Big Issues". Ryerson Review of Journalism. Archived from the original on September 11, 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  8. ^ Although Portland, Oregon's Homeless Times was founded before it, Street News is the earliest-published paper that is still active (North American Street Newspaper Association 2008). The first volume of Homeless Times was published as early as 1986 ("Guide to the Housing and Feeding the Homeless Program, 1981-2000". Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. 2005. Retrieved 25 February 2009.).
  9. ^ a b Harper, Phillip Brian (1999). Private Affairs: Critical Ventures in the Culture of Social Relations. NYU Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-8147-3594-0. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  10. ^ a b Howley, Kevin (2005). Community Media: People, Places, and Communication Technologies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0-521-79228-2. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  11. ^ Green, Norma (August–September 1999). "With a Name Like Stringer, He was Born to Write..." The Homeless Grapevine, Issue #37. Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  12. ^ a b Swithinbank, Tessa (2001). Coming Up from the Streets: The Story of The Big Issue. Earthscan. pp. 21–33. ISBN 1-85383-544-7. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  13. ^ Stringer, Lee, Grand Central Winter: Stories from the Street, 1st ed., New York : Seven Stories Press, 1998. ISBN 1-888363-57-6. Cf. Chapter 6, "West Forty-sixth Street, Winter 1989" which is about his experiences with Street News. "We all had money to burn. Street News was sweet news. We bought the papers for a quarter each, sold them for seventy five cents. Three bucks for every dollar invested. The papers flew out of our hands, for all over the city the streets were filled with homelessness and compassion. Even a mindless schnook can take home sixty dollars a day. For those of us with demons to feed, the easy money rendered thoughts of larceny obsolete, and for those who only suffered from cruel circumstance, it was a chance once again to dare to flirt with dreams."
  14. ^ Silberstein, Judy (2006-02-16). "Mamk's Lee Stringer Gives "Internal View" of a Difficult Life". Larchmont Gazette. Retrieved 2009-03-13.

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