26 August 2013

IPS story “Alberta’s oil sands bring jobs, services and despair” republished

While the expansion of the tar sands of Athabasca, Alberta, Canada has brought jobs and economic stability to the indigenous community of Fort Chipewyan, development has also brought cultural crisis and despair.

The community has witnessed its local caribou herds threatened with extinction, a decline in the number of migratory birds, and the increase of certain types of cancer. There has also been an increase in drug abuse and alcoholism among residents of the isolated town who work for the oil industry which, critics say, is a reaction to the destruction of the Athabasca land and heritage.

This troubling story was republished by The Big Issue in the North (UK).

The article can still be downloaded here.

Der IPS-Artikel „Albertas Ölsande bringen Jobs, Services und Verzweiflung“ wiederveröffentlicht

Die Ausbreitung der Athabasca-Ölsande in der kanadischen Provinz Alberta hat der indigenen Gemeinde Fort Chipewyan Arbeitsplätze und wirtschaftliche Stabilität gebracht. Diese Entwicklung ist aber gleichzeitig für eine kulturelle Krise und viel Verzweiflung verantwortlich.

Die Gemeinde musste erleben, wie die örtlichen Karibuherden fast ausgerottet wurden, und die Zahl der Zugvögel zurückging. Dafür häuften sich bestimmte Krebsarten. Außerdem wuchs die Zahl der Fälle von Drogen- und Alkoholmissbrauch unter den Bewohnern der isolierten Stadt, die für die Ölindustrie arbeiten. Laut Kritikern ist das eine Reaktion auf die Zerstörung des Athabasca-Landes und des kulturellen Erbes.

Dieser verstörende Artikel erschien im Big Issue in the North (UK).

Die Geschichte steht hier immer noch zum Download bereit. 

19 August 2013

IPS story “From slum girl to world chess prodigy” republished in The Big Issue in the North and around the world.

Phiona Mutesi was a desperate nine-year-old foraging for food in Uganda’s biggest slum, Katwe, when she first discovered the game of chess.

Now aged 17, she’s developed into one of the world’s most promising young players and recently spoke at the Women in the World summit in New York, USA, attended by Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. In the US, Mutesi has played chess with her hero, grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, and Disney is producing a movie about her life.

This heart-warming story, written by IPS’s Amy Fallon, was picked up and republished by The Big Issue in the North (UK) and also by Portuguese street paper, CAIS, Franco-Canadian street paper, L’Itinéraire, and Streetvibes in the US.

The article can still be downloaded here.

Der IPS-Artikel „Vom Slum-Mädchen zum Schach-Genie“ erscheint in „The Big Issue in the North“ und andere Zeitungen auf der ganzen Welt

Phiona Mutesi war ein verzweifeltes neunjähriges Mädchen, das in Katwe, dem größten Slum Ugandas, nach Essen suchte – dann entdeckte sie das Schach-Spiel.

Jetzt, mit 17 Jahren, ist Phiona eine der vielversprechendsten jungen Schachspieler der Welt. Vor kurzem sprach sie auf dem „Women in the World“-Gipfel in New York, den auch Hillary Clinton und Oprah Winfrey besuchten. In den USA hat sie auch schon gegen ihren Helden, den Schach-Großmeister Garry Kasparov, gespielt. Disney dreht gerade einen Film über ihr Leben.

Diese herzerwärmende Geschichte, die Amy Fallon von IPS geschrieben hat, wurde vom Big Issue in the North aus dem Vereinigten Königreich genauso aufgenommen wie vom portugiesischen Straßenmagazin CAIS und der francokanadischen Zeitung L’Itinéraire. Auch Streetvibes aus den USA brachte die Story.

Den Artikel können Sie hier immer noch herunterladen.

12 August 2013

INSP story “Theatre challenges Europe’s last dictatorship” republished

Belarus has been described as Europe’s last dictatorship. A landlocked nation in Eastern Europe that became independent in 1991 following the collapse of the USSR, the nation is ruled with an iron fist by President Aljaksandr Lukaschenka, a dictator criticised for his appalling human rights record.

Belarus is Europe’s dark corner, a place where elections are rigged and opponents of the government are wrongly imprisoned and tortured. Dissent is brutally oppressed but human rights defenders are fighting back using the power of theatre.

This hard-hitting story by INSP’s Katrin Schmoll was republished in the Big Issue in the North and also as far afield as the Big Issue japan.

The article can still be downloaded here.

Wiederveröffentlichung des INSP-Artikels „Theater fordert Europas letzte Diktatur heraus“

Weißrussland gilt als Europas letzte Diktatur. Das Land in Osteuropa wurde 1991 nach dem Zusammenbruch der UdSSR unabhängig. Jetzt herrscht Präsident Aljaksandr Lukaschenko dort mit eiserner Faust – ein Diktator, der wegen seiner erschreckenden Missachtung der Menschenrechte kritisiert wird.

Weißrussland ist Europas dunkle Ecke, ein Ort, in dem Wahlen manipuliert und Regierungsgegner grundlos eingesperrt und gefoltert werden. Jede Art von Widerstand wird brutal unterdrückt. Menschenrechtsaktivisten aber schlagen zurück – mit der Macht des Theaters.

Diese kraftvolle Geschichte von unserer INSP-Praktikantin Katrin Schmoll erschien im Big Issue in the North und auch im Big Issue Japan.

Den Artikel können Sie hier immer noch herunterladen.

7 August 2013

Staff and board changes at INSP

INSP Executive Director, Lisa Maclean will be moving on from INSP on the 9th August after 10 years with the organisation. At our conference in Munich last week, the board and members thanked Lisa for all her hard work and dedication to INSP and street papers over the years, and wished her well in the future.
  • A message from Lisa to INSP members can be found here
  • A message from Lisa to INSP supporters can be found here.

Maree Aldam (currently Development Manager) will take over as General Manager of INSP in the interim period, supported by the board and former INSP President, Mel Young who is based in Scotland. An open recruitment process for the Director’s position will take place later in the year and will be managed by the board and supported by INSP partners in Scotland.

Board of Directors

During our AGM in Munich last week, board members Gabi Koch (Hinz&Kunzt, Germany) and Arkady Tyurin (Put Domoi, Russia) stepped down from the INSP board of Directors. Members voted Fay Selvan (The Big Issue in the North / The Big Life Group) and Paola Gallo (Surprise, Switzerland) on to the INSP board. Read more about the current board here.

Message from Lisa Maclean to colleagues & INSP supporters

Dear colleagues and INSP supporters,

After 10 fantastic years with Big Issue and INSP I’m moving on from INSP on the 9th August.

It has been a wonderful experience to work for INSP and street papers. I believe in street papers and it has been inspiring to have the opportunity to work alongside our street paper members and to see the amazing work they do every day that changes lives. 123 papers, 28,000 vendors working every year, 6 million readers reached every edition- this is one special network. Thank you for being part of our network and for supporting us on our journey so far.

It feels like an appropriate time to move on; we have a really a supportive board, a committed, experienced staff team, and wonderful partners behind us. INSP is in great shape.

I am moving on to take up an international entrepreneurship Fellowship with The Saltire Foundation, and as the first social enterprise leader to be offered a place, I will put all of my INSP experiences to really good use.

Our Development Manager, Maree Aldam, will be stepping up to a General Manager’s role in the interim period, supported by former INSP President and Big Issue Scotland co-founder Mel Young who is based in Scotland. Maree is passionate about street papers and will do a great job. The board will manage an open recruitment process for the INSP Director’s position later in the year and everyone will be kept informed about this as we move forward.

What the street papers movement does is to give people a chance to take control, to change their lives, to move on. As I stand here poised to do that in a small way in my own life, I am reminded of how powerful and important a gift that is. If moving on from a decade of the good things I’ve had at INSP is so profound and affecting for me, imagine how infinitely more extraordinary it is when one of our 14,000 vendors can make a positive change in their lives.

Thank you all again for all you have given to INSP- I hope we can continue to count on you as the organisation moves forward. I look forward to seeing INSP continue to grow and thrive, supporting street papers and vendors everywhere.

With thanks and best wishes,


Future contact: lisamaclean77(at)googlemail.com

Message from Lisa Maclean to INSP members

Lisa Maclean
Dear members,

After 10 fantastic years with Big Issue and INSP I’m moving on from INSP on the 9th August.

It has been a wonderful experience to work for INSP and street papers. I believe in street papers and it has been inspiring to have the opportunity to work alongside you and to see the amazing work you do every day that changes lives. 123 papers, 28,000 vendors working every year, 6 million readers reached every edition- this is one special network. Thank you for being such brilliant colleagues.

It feels like an appropriate time to move on; we have a really a supportive board, a committed, experienced staff team, and wonderful partners behind us. INSP is in great shape.

I am moving on to take up an international entrepreneurship Fellowship and as the first social enterprise leader to be offered a place, I will put all of my INSP experiences to really good use.

Our Development Manager, Maree Aldam, will be stepping up to a General Manager’s role in the interim period, supported by former INSP President and Big Issue Scotland co-founder Mel Young who is based in Scotland. Maree is passionate about street papers and will do a great job. The board will manage an open recruitment process for the INSP Director’s position later in the year and members will be kept informed about this as we move forward.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give a huge thanks to my staff and volunteer team who dedicate masses of time, energy and passion to INSP, and to our board members- past and present- for sharing their experiences and working so hard to develop and grow INSP. And a special thank goes to my wonderful Chairperson Serge Lareault who generously gives his leadership, support, enthusiasm and a brilliant sense of humour to INSP and who has taught me so much.

I loved seeing so many of you in Munich at what was my very last INSP conference and Awards. I really felt a strong sense of unity amongst us as we look to find the best pathway forward for street papers and our great network. It was wonderful to be a part of that, and we had a lot of fun together.

I look forward to seeing INSP continue to grow and thrive in the future, supporting street papers and vendors everywhere.

Please do keep in touch- I would love to hear from you and know how you are all doing: lisamaclean77(at)googlemail.com

With thanks and lots of love,


6 August 2013

#insp2013 Tweets & Instagrams are 'Storified'

A highlight of the international street paper calendar is the INSP conference, hosted in a different city each year, in partnership with the local street paper member. The 17th annual conference is in Munich in partnership with BISS. Here is a round-up of tweets, blog posts and other coverage.

INSP Conference 2013 photos

Photos from the 2013 conference and awards night are now online. Many thanks to the student reporting team for all their help and Andreas Düllick (Editor-in-Chief of Strassenfeger) for the awards night photos.

More will be uploaded throughout the week, if you have any photos you wish to share click here to send.

Photos by conference photographer Stephanie Dillig (high resolution)

Google+ Photos

2 August 2013

2013 International Street Paper Awards - the winners

The winners of the 2013 ‘International Street Paper Awards’ were announced last night at a ceremony in Munich on the final night of INSP's 2013 annual conference. The awards highlight the outstanding, independent editorial achievements of street papers; and their contribution to social justice.

Best Cover
Ten awards were presented in total, across nine different categories. Winners were presented with hand-made made awards created by Glasgow Wood Recycling – a social enterprise that offers volunteering and training as a way of tackling poverty and social exclusion. The winners were:

  • Best Feature Story – Writing for social impact:
    'Storm about the Shelters' by Ryan Gallagher, The Big Issue in the North (UK)
  • Best Cover – Making a statement on the street
    'Face to Face' by Lisa Mansfield, The Big Issue Australia
  • Best Interview – A spotlight on change-makers
    'Mayoral Candidate Conversations' by Andrew Krinks, The Contributor (USA)
  • Best Photograph – Evoking deeper perspectives on poverty and injustice
    'In the Bathtub' by Helga C. Theilgaard, Hus Forbi (Denmark)
  • Best Vendor Essay – A fresh perspective from the street
    'Our daily bread' by Andrea Hoschek, Apropos (Austria)
  • Best Design – Effecting change through visual content
    'Christmas book 2012' by Dimitri Koutsomytis, Anlov Peter Mathiesen and Svein Johan Reisang, =Norge (Norway) and  'The Diamond Jubilee Edition' by Mark Neil / The Big Issue UK design team, The Big Issue UK (joint winners)
    Best Photo
  • Special Award for External Press – Advocating for the needs and rights of homeless people
    'Special Report – Homeless Banker hits rock bottom' by Jonathan Owen, The Independent on Sunday (UK)
This year, for the first time, two new awards categories recognised street papers for their effectiveness as social enterprises and their work in supporting homeless people. The judging of the ‘Social Enterprise’ and ‘Social Development’ categories was supported by PwC - a leading supporter of social enterprise in the UK. The winning street papers were:
  • Social Development Award – Innovation in vendor support: The Big Issue Australia
  • Social Enterprise Award – Business success for social good: =Norge
The final award of the evening went to The Big Issue South Africa for Outstanding Contribution to the International Street Paper Movement. The Big Issue South Africa leads the way for sustainable street paper development on the continent, supports colleagues in other African countries and also supports the development of INSP as an organisation. 

INSP Executive Director Lisa Maclean said of the awards: “The International Street Paper Awards are a real celebration of the diversity of our member street papers around the world. Street paper editors, journalists, designers and photographers work hard every day to report on important issues and create first-class magazines and newspapers for their vendors to sell. It’s great to have the opportunity to celebrate and reward these efforts and remind the world what street papers are there to do."

For more information about all the finalists, click here.


1 August 2013

Group discussion: who should we be supporting?

The global economic crisis has changed the demography of homelessness and unemployment. Record numbers of families are now homeless and many European street papers are seeing large increases in homeless people from Romania and Bulgaria. The discussion on the final day of the INSP conference concerns the question: “our vendors: who should we be supporting?”

The delegates were split into four groups, each focusing on a different vendor support issue in order to create a clear picture of how the demography of homelessness is shifting and what street papers will have to do in order to adapt to new vendor groups.

Debate focused around four key questions: What are the needs of our vendors and how have these changed in recent years? How have street papers responded to those needs? What are the related challenges? What does the future hold for street papers in relation to vendor support?

Frank Dries (Straatnieuws, Netherlands)
and Des Sharples (BI UK).
Groups 1a and 1b, led by Fay Selvan (Group Chief Executive at The Big Issue in the North, UK), Bastian Pütter (Editor-in-Chief of Bodo, Germany), Frank Dries (Editor of Straatnieuws, the Netherlands) and Des Sharples (National Sales Manager at The Big Issue UK), looked at economic migration. The number of Roma and other economic migrants continues to increase across cities in Europe, forcing street papers to decide who to support and how to support them. Fay Selvan from The Big Issue in the North, states that, "Roma are the most discriminated against ethnic minority in Europe today, it is not just about giving them a job, but also about campaigning against something that is not democratic and goes against human rights."

For some street papers, over half of the vendors are Roma, while others exclude them from selling entirely. Delegates discussed these difficult choices as well as looking at the need to adapt existing services to meet different needs while also continuing to support existing vendors. One of the most important points discussed was the necessity to closely analyze the specific needs of Roma and how to meet them, for example: overcoming the language barrier and
Fay Selvan (BI in the North) and
Bastian Pütter (Bodo, Germany).
providing child daycare for the Roma children. Another important aspect is the public opinion about Roma. A project of shared investigative journalism between several street papers was proposed which would help refute myths about the Roma community in general and Roma vendors in particular. With the number of Roma increasing in most countries and with a rising number of Roma street newspaper vendors, giving this group a positive visibility in the magazine itself is a good way to educate and inform the public.

Henrique Pinto (Cais, Portugal) and
Chris Alefantis (Shedia, Greece).
Group 2, meanwhile, focused on the issue of homelessness caused by the financial crisis. As mentioned above, the global economic downturn has led to an increase in unemployment and homelessness across many countries. This, in turn, has placed increasing demand on street papers as more people look for ways to earn an income. Henrique Pinto (Executive Director of Cais, Portugal) and Chris Alefantis (Editor-in-Chief of Shedia, Greece) looked at how street papers can cope with this pressure and discussed how they can continue to offer support services even when governments continue to cut welfare budgets.

The discussion focused on whether or not vendor should be reintegrated in the regular labour market. "I don't see why selling a street paper shouldn't be considered a proper job," argues Patricia Merkin from Hecho en Bs.As. (Argentina).

The changing demography of homelessness has seen an increase in whole families with no permanent address. Group 3, chaired by Trudy Vlok (INSP Vice-Chair & Treasurer and Managing Director of The Big Issue South Africa) and Steven Persson (INSP Secretary and CEO of The Big Issue Australia), discussed homeless families and especially the situation of female vendors since there is a big lack of women engaged in the street paper work all over the world.

Discussion group: Female vendors.
Women living in poverty are some of the most marginalised, vulnerable people in society. Many are solely responsible for supporting their families. Just like their male counterparts, female vendors have the opportunity to earn a sustained income by selling street papers but there are often additional challenges such as childcare and safety. Steven Persson underlined that two essentials should be provided: economic power and permanent secure housing.

Delegates discussed these challenges and possible solutions to them, including innovative approaches such as The Big Issue Australia’s Women’s Subscription Enterprise.

Discussion group: Homelessness in
financial crisis.
The Women’s Subscription Enterprise allows women to earn a stable income in a job that keeps them safely off of the streets. It has the additional bonus of allowing the street paper to reach remote customers, widening its readership and increasing its income.

In South Africa, female vendors are protected by a local security company which keeps them safe at their working place. Trudy Vlok said: "In this case you have to fight against victimisation, stereotyping, sexual abuse, domestic violence and cultural disgrace."

Group 4 discussed the International Street Paper Vendor Week. In February 2013 INSP launched its first-ever Vendor Week, an international programme of events and activities celebrating street paper vendors, championing their entrepreneurial spirit and challenging perceptions of homelessness and poverty.

INSP’s Development Manager, Maree Aldam, along with Shawn Bourdages (Communications and Fundraising Assistant at L’Itinéraire, Canada) and Cole Merkel (Vendor Coordinator at Street Roots, USA), spoke of the success of this year’s Vendor Week – 46 street papers from 20 countries participated, involving around 8,000 vendors and reaching 70,000 readers worldwide.

Furthermore, the Vendor Week was covered in the mainstream media as well. In Scotland, for example, there was a slot on national television.

The group leaders then asked the delegates to share how they participated. Brittany Langmeyer, publisher at StreetWise, USA, reported that they organized an Instagram competition. The aim was to get to take as many pictures with vendors as possible and upload them. The winner was rewarded with free copies of StreetWise for a month. Shawn of L'Itinéraire talked about the open house sessions they organized during the vendor week, where customers could visit the office rooms of the paper and meet vendors as well as staff of the paper.

However, some delegates highlighted that vendors should be the centre of our efforts each and every day and not just for one week per year.

"It is like mother's day - you celebrate it on a special day every year, but in fact, it is even better if you show love to your mother every day," Dijana Gjorgievska, President of Ulica, Macedonia, concluded.

The importance of the Vendor Week was underlined by Maree who pointed out that it is specifically about the people who sell the papers. What INSP wants to achieve with Vendor Week is for the public to really understand the street paper concept, to raise awareness and, finally, to increase sales. Although INSP does not launch any programs for the vendor week on its own, it puts an umbrella over all the projects street papers all over the world do, showing that it is a powerful international movement.

After the final discussion session of the conference each group was asked to report back on their discussions with all feedback being collated for the conference report.

Day 3 round up: who should we be supporting?

The final day of the INSP annual conference centres on the most important aspect of the street paper model: the vendors.

Lisa Maclean welomes the delegates to
the last day of the conference.
The global economic downturn has resulted in a change of the demography of homeless and unemployed people. There are now often whole families without a permanent residence. Many street papers across Europe have witnessed an increase in vendors from Romania and Bulgaria in the last few years. So who is it that street papers should be supporting?

Lisa Maclean, INSP’s Executive Director, introduced the final day’s theme, followed by a speech by Freek Spinnewijn of FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless).

Freek Spinnewijn of FEANTSA.
FEANTSA is a European NGO which has been working for over 20 years to prevent and alleviate the poverty and social exclusion of people threatened by or living in homelessness. Freek gave an overview of the work he and FEANTSA have been doing and demonstrated the changing demographic of homeless people in Europe. "We are facing a massive increase in youth and family homelessness," he said. "Migration in many countries is a direct route into homelessness." For Freek one of the main questions in his work as an NGO is how to keep the European Union interested in the issue. "We're a bit lonely as an NGO adressing the EU, maybe also street papers could get involved."

Panellists Fay Selvan (The Big Issue in the North, UK), Chris Alefantis (Shedia, Greece), Cole Merkel (Street Roots, USA), Thiago Massagardi (OCAS, Brazil), Bastian Putter (Bodo, Germany) and speaker Freek Spinnewijn then tackled the final discussion question of the conference: “Our vendors: who should we be supporting?"

Chaired by Editor of street paper Z! (the Netherlands), Hans van Dalfsen, the panellists from these street papers, each with a wealth of experience dealing with different vendor groups, discussed the challenges faced in their work and how they have adapted to meet the needs of new vendor groups. From these experiences they hope to share with other street papers how best to adapt to, and include, new vendor groups.
Panel discussion: Our vendors:
Who should we be supporting?

During the discussion, Cole answered the question by stating: "We will engage with anyone who walks through our office door."

However, Bastian pointed out that "there are people we can't help, we can't provide help for everyone", referring to the high number of migrants from Bulgria and Romania.

Thiago mentioned that the question is not just "Who should we be supporting?", but also "How long should we be supporting our vendors?" Although not possible for every vendor, OCAS wants to provide a stage for them from which they can go on in their lives.
Bastian Pütter (Bodo) will succeed
Ilse Weiß as coordinator of the
German language platform.

With the final day of the conference concluded the delegates are now looking forward to the awards tonight.

Bastian Pütter, Editor-in-Chief of Bodo, Germany, was presented as the new coordinator of the platform for German language platform. He succeeds Ilse Weiß in that position.
Hildegard Denninger thanked
the staff of INSP.

Furthermore, there was thanks given to Lisa, Executive Director of INSP, who will resign in the coming weeks.

Serge Lareault, INSP Chairperson and publisher of L'Itinéraire, and Hildegard Denninger, Managing Director of BISS, thanked the whole INSP staff, the volunteers, the BISS staff and the student reporter team.

Paulaner Biergarten

The delegates enjoyed beer and typical Bavarian food
at the famous "Paulaner Biergarten".
Vendors are at the heart of the street paper model. In the centre of all the talks and discussions at the INSP conference, about the relevance of street papers and their survival in the digital age, is the welfare of the vendors. Street papers exist to help give their vendors a stable, sustainable income and a way to lift themselves out of homelessness. A hand up, not a hand out, as the mantra goes. So it is important for the street papers to be connected to their vendors, to hear what they have to say about life on the streets and how they feel street papers could improve.


With this in mind the delegates took a short walk to the famous Paulaner Biergarten to enjoy some of Bavaria’s finest beer and meet local vendors of the host street paper, BISS.

"It was a great evening," Andreas from Die Jerusalemmer (Germany) said. "I had good conversations with my street paper colleagues, we had an instant connection."

Aaron Israelson, Editor-in-Chief of Faktum in Sweden, agrees that INSP brings people together: "It makes you feel like you're part of something bigger. INSP is especially important for smaller street papers in developing countries."
Chris Alefantis (Shedia, Greece), Birgit Müller
(Hinz&Kunzt) and Volker Macke (Asphalt).

Paulaner is one of Munich’s oldest breweries. Paulaner monks have been brewing beer here for over 300 years, so you can bet they’re pretty good at it! Delegates also enjoyed traditional Bavarian food such as ‘Schweinshaxn’, ‘Lebarkas’, and ‘Obatza’.

During dinner delegates met some of BISS’s vendors. Some of the vendors with foreign roots were happy to talk to street paper members from their home countries.

The team of Surprise (Switzerland)
and Gabi Koch (Hinz&Kunzt)
BISS, one of the oldest and now a supporting member of INSP, is unique in the street paper world when it comes to vendor support. They are the first, and still one of the only street papers, to employ its regular vendors. 41 of its 100 vendors are permanently employed by BISS, as opposed to the self-employment model used by most street papers. They believe that this helps to reintegrate the vendors into society by bringing them into the formal job market. The vendors also have the opportunity of writing articles for the magazine.

In 2006 BISS bought a plot of land at a local graveyard to ensure long-term vendors received a proper burial when they died. It is clear to see that BISS epitomize the street paper principal that the vendor must be at the centre of all efforts.

Day 2 round up: surviving in the digital age

Changes in technology, from smart phones to social media, have changed the way we consume media. Major print publications have experienced a significant decline in readership with more and more people turning to the internet for free news websites. Street papers face a unique problem with the transition from print to digital media because the vendor-customer transaction is core to the street paper model and must be retained.

The second day of the conference focused on the big digital question. Delegates were given the opportunity to share their own digital development ideas and discuss new and emerging challenges.

Executive Director of INSP, Lisa Maclean, introduced the theme of the day before external speaker Christoph Knorn, from award-winning international design and technology agency CONRAD CAINE, gave a talk about the shift in publishing from print to digital.

Christoph Korn from the design and
technology agency CONRAD CAINE.
Christoph showed delegates examples of the approaches mainstream media were taking with regards to digital output and discussed their relevance to street papers. He also explained the challenges and opportunities that digital media is bringing. According to him, "print is not dead, but shift happens". He said that there has always been a trend for convenience in media - just as buying music on iTunes is easier than getting a CD in the record store - and that street papers should be aware of this trend when developing new business models. The most important aspect for him: "Never let reality stop your imagination".

The second panel discussion then got under way. With the day’s theme in mind the question discussed by panellists was: “how do street papers survive in the digital age?”

The panellists discussed the (digital)
future of street papers.
Panellists Christian Lisseman (The Big issue in the North, UK), Brittany Langmeyer (StreetWise, USA), Dirk Meerkotter (The Big Issue South Africa), Aaron Israelson (Faktum, Sweden) and speaker Christoph Knorn discussed several street papers that were trialling different aspects of digital technology.

Among trials discussed by the panel – chaired by Sean Condon, Executive Director of Megaphone (Cananda) and Co-Chair of INSP’s partner network, NASNA – was the INSP digital street paper pilot.

The pilot scheme involved customers being able to get a digital copy of The Big Issue in the North (UK) for their smart phone by buying a QR code from vendors, maintaining the interaction between vendors and the public. Therefore, vendors will sell access to content rather than just pure content.

Sean Condon of Megaphone (Canada).
The panel also answered questions from the floor about cashless payments, app technology and online subscriptions, such as The Big Issue Australia’s Women’s Subscription Enterprise, which has allowed homeless women to gain safe employment while expanding the paper’s readership to more remote regions. Sean Condon of Megaphone (Canada) also explained a very interesting feature which his paper implemented: the so-called vendor finder, which enables buyers to track down their nearest vendor online.

John Bird (The Big Issue UK).
After discussion and feedback sessions about the day’s topic, John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue UK, opened the innovation exchange. He made his aims very clear: "I don't want a person on the streets any longer than they have to be".

The innovation exchange saw street papers sharing brand new, innovative ideas to help generate extra income and awareness.

The Magazine Street Roots (USA) for example, used Twitter to document 24 hours in the life of a homeless person, giving a first hand account of how it feels.

Jo Tein (Hempels, Germany).
Asphalt, from Germany, introduced their bicycle garage program, where vendors learn to fix and maintain donated bikes. Some of the vendors even found jobs in bike shops after training at the workshop. The Big Issue Australia shared their Women’s Subscription Enterprise.

Hempels (Germany) discussed their work with prisoners. Long term prisoners in the penal institution take part in writing workshops with finished articles then published in Hempels, giving readers a unique insight into life both in and out of prison while also helping prisoners to learn new skills.

Dirk Meerkotter (The Big Issue South Africa).
Amongst other innovations brought forward were the use of open software in the production of The Big Issue South Africa. Dirk Meerkotter, the designer of the paper, turned to open source software for two reasons: "Not only can it improve our own work, but we can also improve the developer's work by giving them feedback".

Michael Vogel (Zeitschrift der Strasse).
Furthermore, the German street paper Zeitschrift der Strasse’s alternative business model was presented: The magazine focuses on provocative design, which challenges the reader to be more critical of their regular way of seeing things. For example, the top part of the magazine is inexplicably perforated, sparking questions in the reader and opening a conversation between vendor and buyer.

The Dutch papers Z! and Straatnieuws found a way to share resources and cut production costs by 25% with a joint collaboration. They were able to secure the existence of both papers with this new model and can now use their combined funds to focus on new projects, such as a national glossy street paper and a street paper designed for a younger audience.

While the street paper model faces a unique problem in the shift from print to digital there was no shortage of potential solutions on show.