NPR TBI Broadcast

Mon, 27 Aug 1956 17:57:31 +0000


Here is a copy of my transcript of the NPR broadcast, the statement
about 15 cities is the very final verse of the broadcast.
> Original Broadcast can be found on the NPR News Website
> Weekend Edition with Scott Simon
> Saturday April 18th, 1998
> Margo Adler, NPR New York
> Transcription:
> All over the streets of London more than a thousand homeless people or
> formerly homeless people hawk the Big Issue.  England=92s extremely
> successful street newspaper with a circulation of 400,000 editions in
> Ireland, Sweden and Australia and aligned newspapers in Germany, Italy
> and Russia the Big Issue is a street newspaper with real prominence.
> This month the Big Issue has come to the United States and some America=
> editors of Street Newspapers  seem worried.  NPR=92s Margo Adler report=
> In London The Big Issue is no small alternative rag, it has a
> professional staff and it turns a profit.  It combines articles on
> celebrities with political journalism.  And with 35 regional offices
> it=92s everywhere.  For example in Common Gardens.  Richard Doulan has
> been selling the Big Issue for two years.  =93When I first started sell=
> it I didn=92t like it too much, but I have to say that over the last si=
> months it has come up with some really class interviews with some prett=
> interesting people and now I actually like the Big Issue and I  actuall=
> read it.=94
> The Big Issue was the brain child of Gordon Roddick, who eight years ag=
> came upon a homeless person selling Street News New York City=92s homel=
> paper.  Gordon Roddick is the husband of Anita Roddick the founder of
> the Body Shop.  As Anita Roddick puts it,  =93You know, I=92ve got dosc=
> I=92ve got money, so we=92ve got dosch  but if you have any smarts in y=
> brain you give it away or but  do you allocate it to people who you
> really think can affect social change?=94
> Anita Roddick=92s vision for the Big Issue which began publishing in 19=
> was that it would do many things that the mainstream media shuns  deal
> with poverty and community activism, for example.  =93Number one it sho=
> not be a guilt purchase, it had to be radical, it had to do for England
> what the I guess the Progressive, the Nation, Mother Jones does for
> America.  It had to have dissenting news, it had to be news from the
> street up it had to be brilliantly designed.=94
> The Editor of the Big Issue is John Bird, a former Trotskist political
> organizer, a man with a past that includes homelessness and jail.  A ma=
> with strong views.  =93I didn=92t like the people who gave me charity a=
nd I
> didn=92t like the people who didn=92t give me charity when I used to be=
g on
> the streets=94.   Bird=92s main emphasis is producing a quality newspap=
> about 20% of the Big Issue staff is homeless or formerly homeless but
> there=92s  not a lot of emphasis on writing about homelessness.  In fac=
> Bird says he wants homeless people to get beyond writing about social
> malive, as he puts it.  =93I am first of all interested in giving homel=
> people an employment opportunity, a pathway out of poverty.  I am
> interested in ending their social exclusion by them making decisions
> about their lives based on the fact that they have received some
> options.  They don=92t have to beg, they don=92t have to mug, they don=92=
> have to sell their bodies.=92  John Bird has long wanted to bring the B=
> Issue to the United States.
> There are about 50 street newspapers in North America.  Jennafer
> Waggoner is the editor of Making Change, a small homeless newspaper out
> of Santa Monica, CA.  They publish 25,000 copies about once a month and
> she=92s nervous.  =93Having a well funded paper come in, set up an auto=
> distribution of 300,000 copies that is a serious threat.  Especially to
> a paper like ourselves, we don=92t even have an office space.=94
> Where Anita Roddick sees a newspaper that is feisty and progressive,
> Paul Boden the editor of Street Sheet San Francisco describes the Big
> Issue paper as commercial, filled with celebrity interviews, the MTV of
> the street paper movement.  Boden says it=92s yet  another case of a bi=
> institution living off the homeless.  It=92s like the shelter industry,=
> says or Goodwill.  =93All these freakin=92 people are making all of thi=
> money off the backs of poor people.  And then poor people have to pay
> .50c an issue to get a paper to sell it for a dollar.  And if they got
> enough money to be setting up foundations to be opening up branches in
> new countries you would think they would have enough money to pay the
> people who are selling their product for them out on the streets, to pa=
> them a living wage, to pay them health benefits, and to actually let
> them use this as a way of getting out of living in poverty.  They are
> not doing that.=94
> John Bird admits the Big Issue is a Big Machine that turns out over 24
> million pounds in a year.  But much of the money he says goes for
> housing, getting people jobs,  furniture, support.  It turns out that
> homeless papers aren=92t all the same.  Street Sheet and Making Change =
> example pride themselves on being run by homeless people.  They are
> small, grassroots, anti commercial; they see themselves as the voice of
> the poor.  Other street papers like Street Wise in Chicago emphasize jo=
> creation and a marketable product.  Real Change in Seattle is somewhere
> in the middle.
> Timothy Harris is the editor of Real Change, and when he looks at the
> Big Issue he sees both sides.  =93Part of the reason for their big
> circulation is is a lot of their content is un-controversial, what we
> call fluff.  But at the same time they have a lot of political content
> so that when they take a position people take it seriously, because
> they=92ve got power, they=92ve built real power.=94  Timothy Harris is =
> the Chair of NASNA the North American Street Newspaper Association.
> There is also an International Street Newspaper Association and the Big
> Issue is a member.  And according to the Charter of that organization
> street newspapers agree not to set up shop in each others territory.  S=
> John Bird, the editor of the Big Issue couldn=92t simply arrive in New
> York City and put the paper out because New York City is the home of th=
> oldest homeless newspaper anywhere.
> Street News was founded in 1989 and it was the paper that gave Gordon
> Roddick the idea for the Big Issue.  The current editor=92s name is Ind=
> he=92s a street person with vibrant eyes and missing teeth.  =93The Big
> Issue came here and they wanted to buy out Steet News and it was =93no =
> jose=94.  Indio was filling in for a friend at a newstand across from t=
> Port Authority.  Most of those who come up to the newstand buying
> loosies for a quarter, loose cigarettes.  =93The Big Issue comes over a=
> they want to play Monopoly.  They want Park Place which is the Big
> Apple.  They offered me six pages and a salary.  But I have people who
> have been loyal to me and who has been active, so I says give me a
> $100,000, make me an editor and sign a contract for two years and and
> that way everyone who is on staff the writers and the vendors could be =
> part of this and do it right.  There is no written agreement, so for th=
> moment New York is out.  The only homeless paper in LA is Making
> Change.  The Santa Monica paper is only a year old and its budget for
> the year was 3,000.  Jennafer Waggoner says the Big Issue may have know=
> about Making Change although  they say  they didn=92t.  Whatever the ca=
> the Big Issue launched it=92s first issue this month with a $100,000 st=
> up  budget.  Waggoner and Bird have been talking about ways to work
> together.  Waggoner may get a tiny bit of money, an upgrade of her
> computer and perhaps even some office space, so that Making Change won=92=
> be simply trampled by the larger paper.  =93They say that they want to
> solve homelessness, and that they are not necessarily McDonaldizing, as
> we=92ve termed it, the street paper movement by just opening shop in ev=
> city that they possibly can.  We=92d love to see the Big Issue not be a
> wolf in sheeps clothing.  But at this point, all we see is the sheep an=
> we=92re wondering what is going on, on the inside.=94   John Bird hopes=
> within 3 years the Big Issue will be available in 15-20 US cities.  But
> to do that he will have to reassure the Editors of the smaller
> grassroots street papers.  He=92ll have to be a good negotiator and he =
> have even to give up a little more control than seems comfortable.
> Margo Adler NPR News New York
> --
> Transcribed by Jennafer Waggoner
> =3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D+=3D=
> Aho Mitakuye Oyasin    For All of my Relatives,
> Jennafer Waggoner
> Editor
> Making Change...
> a community human rights newspaper empowering
> the poor and unhoused with an income and a voice.
> P.O. Box 3622, Santa Monica, CA  90408
> (310) 289-7446



Aho Mitakuye Oyasin    For All of my Relatives,

Jennafer Waggoner
Making Change...
a community human rights newspaper empowering=20
the poor and unhoused with an income and a voice.
P.O. Box 3622, Santa Monica, CA  90408
(310) 289-7446