•  ()
  •  ()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story

Re-Imagining StreetWise Magazine

Medill students redesign the publication sold by Chicago’s homeless

text size AAA
June 7, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Take a close look at StreetWise when it hits the streets Wednesday, June 9. Sold by homeless vendors or vendors at risk of homelessness, StreetWise has been re-imagined with help from Northwestern University students.

The magazine -- which will feature a cover story about a homeless Chicago woman with a large Twitter following -- has been given a new look by a team of Northwestern Medill School of Journalism graduate students. The student team also launched a new trial StreetWise website at www.beta-streetwise.org.

"The print publication and website feature a fresh, new look while retaining StreetWise's tradition of socially conscious writing," said Jeremy Gilbert, the assistant professor who oversaw the Medill class charged with re-examining StreetWise.

StreetWise is a non-profit dedicated to helping the homeless and those at risk of homelessness improve their lives through entrepreneurship. After a training program, vendors purchase magazines from StreetWise and sell them on the street for a small profit. The model is designed to help the vendors create personal and fiscal discipline, and can be the first step to a safer and more productive life.

Visitors to the newly designed website now can easily discover where vendors sell the magazine and access a guide to places they can volunteer to help the homeless. The site also makes it easy to submit photos of Chicago, follow an active StreetWise Twitter feed and donate to the non-profit StreetWise.

StreetWise provides its vendors -- who buy the magazine for $0.75 and sell it for $2.00 -- with an opportunity to make a steady income. A new online feature allows readers to calculate their own budgets as if they were StreetWise vendors.

Under the direction of Medill Assistant Professor Rachel Davis Mersey, the Medill team studied the magazine's current and potential readership. It re-imagined the character, content and presentation of both the printed magazine and the website. Led by Medill Professor Charles Whitaker, it also made recommendations for attracting new advertisers and financial supporters, for increasing print and Web readership and for engaging readers through social media.

The project's goal, say Northwestern student designers, is to expand readership. Pick up a magazine starting June 9, check out http://beta-streetwise.org/ or follow StreetWise at http://twitter.com/streetwise_chi and let StreetWise know what you think.

For more information, contact Medill Assistant Professor Gilbert at jgilbert@northwestern.edu or at (847) 467-0874.

Topics: Campus Life