Re: Big Issue Cleveland

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 07:53:31 -0800 (PST)


Brian, I like your editorial very much.  That probably comes as no surprise
to anyone.

Robert, I agree that more concrete information from The Big Issue is needed
and wanted, and it would help all sides in this discussion if they would
publish it.
The INSP charter, a detailed description of vendor services, and a source
for sample copies do not seem difficult to provide or unreasonable to
request.

But it would help the discussion immensely if you could stop implying that
everyone who disagrees with you on this -- with the possible exception of
Brian Davis -- is hoping to somehow make money by supporting The Big Issue,
or has otherwise low motives.  In case you want to know what specific
statements I am referring to, I'll quote from this latest post, "... some
in NASNA, eager to emulate and [sic] TBI's commercial success and gain it
as a powerful ally ..."

Everybody that I know personally who has been involved in this discussion,
including myself, Tim Harris, and Virginia Sellner -- as well as yourself
and Jennafer -- are sincerely concerned for the welfare and
self-determination of the poor (which in the case of many of us is also us
-- I don't think of myself as working "for" the poor, but as working
"with", and I think most of us feel the same way).

It is not even true that Tim Harris or the NASNA Executive Committee has
just done an about-face and from opposing TBI unconditionally now
unconditionally supports TBI.  The way I understood the position expressed
by Tim Harris was that the Executive Committee decided not to take any
further action to stop TBI until they see how the negotiations go.  That is
a far cry from saying, "hey,
don't let a NASNA resolution stand in your way.  Now that we know
you're determined to come in despite what NASNA says, oh well!"  The reason
NASNA opposed TBI's attempts to enter NYC and SF were because those were
attempts to actually take over the existing papers, or supplant them, and
would have established a mutually destructive relationship between TBI and
existing North American papers.  The outcome that I, at least, hope for in
the negotiations is that  NASNA and TBI work out a relationship whereby
TBI's presence in LA -- and almost certainly elsewhere, eventually -- would
encourage the growth of North American street newspapers.

Personally, I think that the statistics of 90 street newspapers in Europe
and 40 in North America speak for themselves as far as The Big Issue's
effect.  Expecting the kind of analysis of TBI's effect on competition that
you have repeatedly demanded is, I feel, unrealistic.  There is controversy
over Microsoft's effect on competition in the computer market, and that's
easier to analyze than "does TBI encopurage or discourage competition among
street-newspapers?"

What can be clearly established, though, are such things as: Will TBI
support the continued independent existence of Making Change (as opposed to
buying them out?)  They have.  Will TBI provide material assistance to help
Making Change survive and grow?  They have.  Will TBI help improve
conditions in North America, for all street newspapers?  By helping to stop
the move in LA tward licensing street-paper vendors, they have done so.
Now what else can they do to help improve conditions?  What else can they
do to assist other independent street newspapers, while leaving them
independent?  What else can they do for Making Change?

Robert, I am sure that you believe you are arguing effectively when every
time you make a response you bring it back to your original points.  Do you
understand what I mean when I say that this is not real dialogue?  In
dialogue, each side reflects an understanding of the other's points, so
that we can at least agree on what we are disagreeing about.  I would also
expect of a dialogue between people who share a basic purpose and are
seeking a constructive outcome that they look for common ground that they
can agree on, and be willing to "think outside the box" of their original
stand for a mutually agreeable solution.

Is it possible for you to imagine an outcome to this matter that seems
constructive to the folks in LA that support The Big Issue, and to
Jennafer, and to everyone else involved?

Write On!
-- Anitra

PS: There does not seem to be any interest in using the website forum for
this discussion, and I see that you have dropped the mailing list addresses
from your cc list.  I have added the HPN adress to my reply in order to
have at least one archive where this discussion can be followed by all
interested parties.  I do not notice an email address labeled "Brian Davis"
-- is he getting this response?  If not, would you ask him if i may forward
his editorial to HPN?  I will include or exclude your comments as you wish.

I also notice that your cc list fluctuates, and I do not know on what
basis.  For instance, I did not see Shawn Ewald's address on this post, and
he has been actively contributing to the discussion.  Art Kunkin
specifically asked to be included in the discussion, yet I did not find his
address either.  I have added those two addresses to my reply.
new_voice@geocities.com gets me an error-bounce whenever I send to it, so I
have taken that address out of my reply.