Street Sense becomes a weekly paper in April

Digital illustration of Street Sense Media vendors wearing vests and celebrating by tossing newspapers into the air.

Illustration by Meg Rogers

Next month, Street Sense Media will realize a long-time goal of doubling how often we publish Street Sense, the street paper of our nation’s capital.

Following our April 7 edition, you can look forward to a new publication every Wednesday! At the heart of this expansion is one simple thing: vendor income. We project that the women and men selling our newspaper will earn an average of 40% more money based on what our sister street papers in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland who have transitioned to weekly distribution have observed.

This increase will help vendors meet their daily, basic needs​ and make the program more attractive to new vendors. The more consistent income will make saving and budgeting funds from working with Street Sense Media easier. And we will also be able to pay the artists who contribute to Street Sense — writers, photographers, illustrators, and more — twice as often.

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A playlist of testimonials from our vendors about the impact of going weekly. Videos produced by Taylor Whittington

A 2015 analysis of our past sales data found that sales were, on average, 74% higher in the first week of a paper’s circulation. And in a readership survey the next year, a whopping 78% of you said you would purchase the paper every week if we made this change. 

Writing, editing, designing, and printing twice as much is a big lift and it has taken a long time to successfully connect with the generous funders who have made this happen. Last year, we hired a second full-time editor (Deputy Editor Jake Maher), doubling the size of our editorial department. And we are continuing to recruit volunteer editors, reporters, and page designers. 

More frequent publication also strengthens our product to better serve you. The range and depth of our journalism has continued to grow from year to year. Publishing more frequently will mean bringing our print readers more timely news by featuring articles that would usually run online only. It also allows space to spotlight more relevant news from our partner newsrooms: DCist, The DC Line, Greater Greater Washington, and other street papers from around the world. Our community calendar and job listings will be more frequent. The voices and talents shared in our pages through poetry, prose, and visual art will diversify and be amplified all the more. And the opinion section, which is open to all members of our community, will be able to provide a platform for more timely commentary and debate. 

This is your paper, and we’re so excited to grow it with you. This goal pre-dates all current staff members. The highest suggested donation tier in a “Four More Years of Street Sensecampaign we published in 2007 and 2008, just after the paper began publishing bi-weekly instead of monthly, said supporters’ gift could help pay for printing costs when the paper goes weekly in 2010. 

A lot has changed over the past year. The pandemic decimated paper sales; street vendors cannot work from home. Our community rallied around us, helping to establish a vendor assistance fund for our case management department and increasingly using our mobile payments app to pay vendors for what you’re reading at home, or just to provide them extra support. But none of this has measured up to the same level of income Street Sense Media vendors earned previously. As our community works through the vaccine rollout and continues to rebuild and recover, we want to be there to meet your information needs every week and provide a stronger no-barrier work opportunity than ever before.

As of today, we are also re-launching an email newsletter to remind subscribers whenever a new paper is published, highlight online-only stories you may have missed, and elevate other local newsroom’s coverage of poverty in our community. You can sign up for these messages here by choosing to receive updates about “our newsgathering.”

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