Fri Jun 24th 2011

The Birth of a Newspaper.

As a resident of Nashville in 2007, I had the privilege to watch the birth of a newspaper. You read that correctly. The birth. Of a newspaper. In 2007. But this isn’t your ordinary paper…For most American newspapers, 2007 marked their last 'okay' year. They were already feeling the effects of the internet, but in 2008 they would feel an even bigger punch in the gut when advertisers across the nation slashed their spending due to the recession.

These stories of struggle have been the rule of newspapers over the past 5 years. But as they say, with every rule, there’s at least one exception. Here in Nashville, there exists a newspaper which actually opened its doors in 2007 and grew tremendously during newspaper’s supposed darkest hour.

During its inaugural year, this Nashville paper launched with the printing of 800 copies and just three years later the paper would be printing 100,000+ copies each month. I’m talking about The Contributor, Nashville’s street newspaper, which is the largest of its kind in all of North America. Most people just call it “the homeless paper” because the vendors are people struggling with homelessness. Too, stories are often written by homeless individuals and tell a mostly unheard side of homelessness. Vendors buy the papers for 25 cents a piece and resell for one dollar. So far, 30% of The Contributor's vendors have been able to move off the streets and into housing because of the paper’s success. It’s a heart-warming story of people helping people, and it’s a case-study for why rules were made to be broken.

I’m proud to live in a city that is so philanthropic that it has broken a national media trend.