Contact: Kevin Roberts, RHD Communications
215-951-0300 (ext. 3714) or firstname.lastname@example.org
RHD's One Step Away
, Philadelphia's street newspaper produced and distributed by people experiencing homelessness, is the winner of a 2011 International Street Paper Award.
One Step Away
's front-page story on Matthew Saad Muhammad won for Best Interview at the awards ceremony, presented at the International Network of Street Papers conference
in Glasgow, Scotland. That story, "Fighting Back," was written by One Step Away
writer Jose Espinosa and One Step Away editor Kevin Roberts. Herald & Times Group Managing Editor Tom Thomson, a member of the INSP judging panel presented the award.
"It's amazing to be standing here," Roberts said. "This is our first INSP conference, and all week I've walked around in slack-jawed awe at the work being done by people in this room. It's a great honor to be recognized by this group, and we're very proud to be here joining you in this effort."
When Saad Muhammad -- former light heavyweight world champion, member of the Boxing Hall of Fame and a Philadelphia legend -- entered a Philadelphia homeless shelter in 2010, he encountered One Step Away because so many of the men in the shelter were working on it as writers or vendors. Impressed by their efforts, Saad Muhammad decided to grant his first interview in which he talked about his struggles to Espinosa -- himself a resident of the shelter.
"One day Jose came in and said: I've got something I think you might be interested in," Roberts said. "We said: Uh, yeah, that'd be good.
"Matthew, after leaving the shelter, was so taken by the response to his story that he decided to become an activist and an advocate for the homeless. He's now working with us as spokesperson for our Knock Out Homelessness campaign, and it's been a great success and a great ending to this story."
Espinosa, still a resident at that same homeless shelter, said he was "shocked" to hear he'd won.
"I asked myself: I've spent two years in this shelter, and why am I here?" Espinosa said. "Maybe this will help move my life in a new direction. It's an honor. Now just for me, but for One Step Away."
One Step Away's Claudell Edwards was also nominated in the Best Vendor Essay category for his story on a clothing drive at RHD Ridge men's homeless shelter for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. While he didn't win top honors, Claudell said: "For someone to notice when you're trying to do something nice for someone else, that's a prize in itself."
The awards celebrate the substantial impact of street papers as quality, independent media. At the same time they promote the core values of the street paper movement to build a more equal and just world. Street papers exist to tackle homelessness and poverty. Vendors buy their street paper or magazine at a marked down price before hitting the streets to sell the latest editions at the cover price - generating income for themselves.
One Step Away is a member of the INSP, which supports 112 street papers in 40 countries, published in 18 languages and reaching 6 million readers worldwide. So far, 200,000 vendors around the world have earned a living and changed their lives through selling INSP street papers.
Lord Provost of Glasgow, Councillor Bob Winter opened the ceremonies, saying: "It gives me great pleasure to be here with you all this evening to celebrate excellence in independent journalism."
INSP Director Lisa MacLean spoke of the tremendous efforts and quality work the network has produced over the last 17 years and highlighted the challenges that lie ahead for the INSP.
"There is immense energy on the street and it deserves to be channelled, it needs to be channelled," MacLean said. "The need for challenging, progressive and independent media voices will be stronger and more relevant than ever and if anything, tonight's celebration demonstrates the strength and potential of global street papers to step up to the challenge. None of this comes easy."
Other winners were:
The Denver Voice (USA) for Best Feature Story, Kupfermuckn (Austria) for Best Cover, Asphalt (Germany) for Best Photograph, Sebastião Nicomedes of OCAS (Brazil) for Best Vendor Essay with 'Before the cold hurts..." Rose Rico collected the award on his behalf and read a message from Sebastião. It read: "He says to me if I win, can you tell everyone I love to write. The important thing was that my voice was heard by someone - it means a lot to me."
There was a tie in the Best Design category with Megafon (Norway) and The Big Issue (Scotland and Wales) sharing the honors. The 'External Press' award was won by O Trecheiro, from Brazil, with 'Hiding from death' by Alderson Costa. The final award for 'Outstanding Contribution' was presented by Christine Wilson and was given to Canadian publication L'Itinéraire.
One Step Away editor Kevin Roberts accepts International Street Paper Award