Tag Archives: Oregonian

April Fools: Homelessness and the media in PDX

The Willamette Week exposed Street Roots for attempting to rob homeless people of 25 cents a paper, while the other 75 cents was being used to go toward the undeserving poor. The newspaper published two articles this past year that uncovers SR working with people without homes who are dealing with addictions and people dealing with mental health issues. The paper’s in-depth reporting on the subject matter also determined that SR works with people with disabilities, determining that SR could no longer be trusted to work with people, unless they were in fact, down and out.

The Portland Mercury along with lefty activists accused SR and the Business Alliance of moonlighting after dark and plotting to destroy all that was good downtown. The Mercury also editorialized that SR was probably to blame for most of the laws created by City Hall targeting homeless people. “They’re advocacy efforts this past year have just sucked,” said the Mercury’s British News Editor. “I have two sources that tell me they’re sleeping with the enemy.”

The Oregonian’s publisher told readers that the newspaper’s lack of coverage on why Portland’s homeless population was growing due to the lack of housing was balanced this past year with in-depth reporting on how 21,000 pairs of socks, 1,400 toothbrushes, and 1,000 new coats were going to help the homeless in the region.

The Portland Tribune profiled chronic homelessness and panhandling in an in-depth article that found many individuals living outdoors actually want to be homeless, voluntarily giving up everything they own and their kids to sleep on the streets. One business owner told the Tribune that the homeless people panhandling in front of his store told him that, “Living with rats in the rain under threat of violence and disease was fun,” and then asked him for a dollar to buy drugs.

The Portland Business Journal ran five news stories this past year on homelessness — all after the Business Alliance called and asked them to cover the subject matter. Portlanders were able to read the first half of all five articles, but due to an online subscription model and an overpriced product, readers determined the last part of the articles didn’t really matter much.

An independent consulting firm looked at homeless coverage by TV news stations in Portland over a one-year period. The firm found that the news stations combined ran a total of 37 news stories on homelessness from January to December of 2009. The firm also found that no one inside the city proper actually paid attention, and even fewer polled said they cared.

Three weeks, eight hours and what a coincidence

We at Street Roots don’t even attempt to compete with the Mighty O, what with their daily circulation and big staff, as it were. We trudge away on our tiny editorial budget, relying on volunteers, freelancers and vendors to cover stories from a perspective often overlooked by other media, including The Oregonian. Which is why it is heartening to see other papers like the O recognize important issues that we’ve brought to light in our pages and web presence.

But what a coincidence to see The Oregonian’s coverage of “Cops” filming at the St. Francis dining hall a mere eight hours after we posted it here on our blog and Facebook profile, along with an editorial and commentary from a St. Frances patron. It was almost immediately picked up by The Mercury, which noted the source and generated an even larger discussion about police judgement and the rights of the homeless.

However, The Oregonian never mentioned our original coverage of the story. Sure, news happens, and we’re often out there talking to the same people and covering the same issues around the same times, but the incident being written about happened three weeks ago. Three weeks.

It serves neither the publishers nor the consumers of news in this town to cannibalize our own.  The cache of news propriety is fleeting compared to the more important issues of journalistic standards and simple respect. Readers already know this. How could the O forget?

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

April Fools: WW, Mercury, KGW, Oregonian cover Street Roots and homelessness

From the April 1 edition of Street Roots. (The April Fools edition was one of the most popular Street Roots ever published. We sold out of the newspaper in a week and ordered more. It’s on the streets for two more days – get your copy while it’s hot!)

– A Willamette Week intern asked Street Roots this week if money provided by the city of Portland for the Rose City Resource Guide is in fact being channeled to the mostly volunteer editorial board as a payoff. Questions arose after Street Roots claimed it could help facilitate communication among more than 350 social-service agencies and people experiencing poverty. The paper reported that Street Roots had in fact, “Sit. Lied. Rolled over. And fetched” for the payoff from City Hall.

– The Portland Mercury has decided to cover issues of poverty and homelessness without doing research on the subject for one-year. Mercury reporters told inquiring minds on their company blog that they are working circles around the Street Roots staff. One reporter blames Street Roots for not “manning up” and covering the issues he thinks the paper should be covering. “Why aren’t they just printing our stories on the front page?” he asked reporters.

– The Oregonian called to verify that homeless people are still, in fact, homeless.

– The Portland Monthly has decided to profile the Top Ten Reasons Why no one really gives a crap what the Portland Monthly says about the economy. Coming in at No. 1 was, “No one really does give a crap about what we say about the economy.”

– KGW decided to air a special about how homeless people living out on the streets actually get wet during the rainy season. In an early morning investigative report, KGW found that 14 out of the 14 individuals they interviewed who had slept outside during Rainstorm 2009 actually woke up wet and miserable.

– Several neighborhood newspapers have reported a homeless invasion of neighborhoods. One neighborhood leader told the Portland Sentinel that if any public housing was built in the area, they would post videos on YouTube of neighborhood activists ripping the hearts out of poor people at a public event. Editorials from various neighborhood newspapers agreed, after brokering a deal for sponsoring the event in exchange for three months of advertising. Various musicians around Portland agreed to play the YouTube event, saying, “We owe this to ourselves; we’re poor too.” Microbrews from local breweries and restaurants will be available at the event. Children and pets are welcome.

Street Roots highlighted in the Oregonian, Examiner

From the Oregonian: At 10-years, Street Roots builds on its base.

 From Examiner.com: Street Roots: an unemployment parable.

Secret list on trial

Matt Davis with the Portland Mercury reports on the controversial list used to target individuals on the streets.

On Jan. 7, the O  finally picked up the piece as well.

Street Roots wrote about the controversial program back in April. Story is below. Continue reading

Life story Roger Gates in Oregonian

August 10, 2008

Struggles with homelessness, alcohol and health problems benched a former college pitcher, but he stayed positive and eventually found a sense of peace as a Street Roots vendor. 

Posted by Israel Bayer