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Street paper success stories

 Street News Service 22 November 2019

INSP’s street papers and magazines are bucking the overall slump in worldwide print sales, with a collective 10 per cent rise in circulation over the past year. Here are some of the success stories from around the world. (693 Words) - By Staff Writer



One of the network's greatest successes has been in the United States, where one of its member publications The Contributor in Nashville, tripled its January 2010 circulation of 12,000 to a print run of 60,000 in September this year. In Los Angeles, Community Connection saw circulation quadruple to 10,000 in 12 months.

"We must pinch ourselves when we remember that our print run in January 2009 stood at a proud 1500," said The Contributor editor Tasha French. But she added the social success is even more impressive.

"The publication recently surveyed its homeless and formerly homeless newspaper vendors and found that of those who had been selling for more than a month, 29 per cent had found housing since they started selling. Vendors who had sold for at least three months had a 35 per cent rate of finding housing."


On the other side of the world, Melissa Cranenburgh, deputy editor of The Big Issue Australia, has seen circulation in the last quarter jump from 150,000 to 182,000 from the same time last year, which she calls "an anachronism in an increasingly digitally tuned world."

"The fact we're a social enterprise as well as an independent magazine, is definitely the big selling point. This feeds into our belief that if people are going to pay for print, there better be something else they are supporting as well. You could see it as a boutique product," she added.

"The anachronism is that people get the old-fashioned contact of buying their magazine from the guy (or woman) down the road. They can have a chat. Talk about their day, the weather, the football scores. And at the same time they know that their money isn't going into the pockets of a media mogul. It's going directly to helping the man or woman they've just been talking to. That adds incalculable value."

South Africa

Trudy Vlok, director of The Big Issue South Africa, said: "Like the majority of charitable organisations in SA, The Big Issue SA is feeling the pinch of the global recession in terms of fundraising, but our circulation figures have shown a steady increase over the past 2 years - a direct contrast to the circulation trend in the SA commercial magazine sector, which has shown a distinct decline during the same period.

"The growth is attributable to three main factors: it is more than just a magazine, it is one of the simplest and most effective ways for an average member of the public to actively engage in socio-economic development; as we are not answerable in any way to conventional commercial publishing restrictions."

"We can provide our readers with quality, credible content that is not always available from the mainstream media. On top of that, our vendors, who form solid personal relationships with their customers, are a very effective channel for word-of-mouth promotion."


Luciano Rocco, editor of Brazilian member magazine OCAS, said that his circulation is holding steady at 8000 magazines, in a country which is suffering what he calls "reader fatigue".

"Alternative media includes other voices and alternative perspectives that you would not access in the mainstream and people enjoy and appreciate this."

"Alternative publications like ours have the opportunity to work with big PR agencies to provide them with alternative readerships and channels of communications.

"The public is reading material in new arenas, from all sorts of places and with a wider variety of views and opinions. People are becoming more socially aware. This can only benefit us."


Hildegard Denninger, from street paper BISS in Germany, says her success is down to the vendors: "The paper is there for the vendor and not the other way round. We are transparent; we have a good product, a good project and therefore good vendors."

"We take our vendors seriously and spend all our donation money on their health, on furnishing flats, on paying debts, on hearing-aids, holidays, journeys, birthdays and other celebrations, and so a lot of our strength comes from the vendors.

"Street papers have to put as much money and as much effort into their vendors as they put into their paper - that way it always works."


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