Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), the advertising agency behind the “Homeless Hotspots” campaign that turned homeless people in to mobile wifi providers claims their idea was an attempt to “modernize the Street Newspaper model.” But the Director of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) says the advertising agency missed the mark on dignity and self-respect.
Lisa Maclean is the executive director of INSP, the group that oversees over 100 street press projects in 40 countries, in 24 languages, with a combined readership of 6 million per edition.
She says since the first street paper launched 20 years ago, the model has been based on working, not begging.
“BBH’s interest in supporting homeless people is really commendable. But it misses a couple of crucial elements specific to the street paper model. Homeless vendors buy their copies for half the cover price, then sell them on and keep the profits. The buy and sell element is crucial in the process, as it is the transaction that makes the vendor a salesman, not the recipient of a donation,” Maclean wrote on INSP’s blog.
“Street papers offer vendors not just an income, but a sense of self-respect and dignity. At the same time, they put a face on homelessness by offering quality, independent journalism.”