I edited the fortnightly newspaper Spare Change News, which covers homelessness and related news and policy issues in the Greater Boston area, from June 2011 to September 2012. As editor, I managed paid and volunteer staff, oversaw news coverage, led social media efforts, and reported and wrote news stories and editorials. The mission of the newspaper, now in its 20th year, is to empower the economically disadvantaged through self-employment, skills development, and self-expression. The paper is part of the Glasgow-based International Network of Street Papers, a network of 125 publications in 40 countries with a combined readership of over 6 million.
We succeeded in a little over a year in improving the quality of the newspaper, increasing its circulation and expanding its presence on social media (including Facebook, Twitter, and a blog), professionalizing the editorial operations and generally raising the paper’s prospects. I created an editorial page, writing editorials reflecting the newspapers editorial positions and institutional viewpoint. I revived and expanded a writing-and-editing workshop, nurturing and developing skills of homeless people, volunteers from area colleges, and freelance writers. And I started an ad campaign for the paper titled “Spare Change News: I Read It For The Articles” (see above and below for sample house ads).
Among my stories and editorials for Spare Change News:
• First Person: A Paper With A Future. My final editorial for Spare Change News about the enduring mission of the paper.
• Editorial: Behind Close Doors at the State House is my editorial on the need for greater government transparency at the Massachusetts State House.
• Editorial: Occupy The Next Step is my editorial response to the Occupy movement.
• Spare Change News Interview with Harvard Economist Edward Glaeser. An interview with Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, whose book “Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier” points to cities (including Singapore!) that improve quality of life by investing in their people and urban infrastructure.
• Nick Flynn: From Boston’s Pine Street Inn to Hollywood. An interview with author Nick Flynn, whose book “Being Flynn” was turned into a movie about a troubled homeless writer portrayed by Robert DeNiro and his more successful son played by Paul Dano.
• Down and Out in Harvard Square concerns the numbers of young homeless people gravitating toward Harvard Square in the warm-weather months (with apologies to George Orwell for borrowing from one his titles).
• SOMEONE'S GOTTA LOSE: Does the Mass. Lottery Target Poor People?
concerns efforts to obtain what are supposed to be public documents to determine if Massachusetts Lottery officials use marketing strategies to target low-income communities, where residents tend to spend a larger percentage of their incomes on lottery tickets than do the wealthier segments of society.
• Here is a three-part series I wrote on Housing First, the policy push to emphasize housing over shelters in the effort to end homelessness. The final piece is an exclusive interview with Mass. Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, the Patrick administration’s point man on homeless policy.
Part 1, Mass. Wants New Emphasis on Housing Over Shelters
Part 2, New Homeless Policy: Advocates Debate How Fast To Go
Part 3, An exclusive interview with Lt. Gov. Tim Murray on the state's new Housing First policy
• Editorial: The Feel-Good Sales Tax Holiday is an editorial I wrote on the silliness of a state sales tax holiday.
• Editorial: Betting on Trouble is an editorial I wrote about the grip of corruption on Beacon Hill and the debate over casino gambling.
(Artwork by Micah Stahl)