INSP Awards: finalists revealed for best street paper reporting

A Papal audience, four incredible survival stories from North Korean defectors, investigations into legal and illegal highs, and a look at the hardships faced by transgender homeless: these are the top articles fighting to reign supreme in street paper reporting this year.

Our Best News Feature award recognises the best original story, investigative feature, ‘scoop’ or news interview uncovered by a street paper in the last year. The nominees demonstrate outstanding journalistic depth and accuracy, as well as original thinking.

The finalists in this category are drawn from contributions our unique News Service, which allows street papers to share content with their international peers. In this way, hundreds of articles are made available for free to INSP’s member street papers.

It wasn’t easy but after plenty of deliberating, our international editorial panel have narrowed the hundreds of entries down to our five outstanding finalists, listed below.

The winner will be announced next week at the Global Street Paper Summit and, of course, right here. Keep an eye on #INSPAwards and #INSP2016 for more updates.

Check out our Best Culture Feature finalists here.


Former military officer Soon-shil Lee, Ara Kim and sisters Eunhee Shin and Eunha Shin pose for a photo shoot by The Big Issue Korea. Photo: Junghyuk Shin

The Big Issue Korea

North Korean defectors share incredible stories of escape and survival
By Young Ham

The Big Issue Korea speaks to four women who fled North Korea and now appear on TV talk shows and programs in South Korea to raise awareness of the situation in their homeland. Reflecting on how they escaped starvation and execution, the four brave defectors reveal their often horrific experiences of repatriation, and the challenges of adapting to life in South Korea. Despite their experiences, some have happy memories of their homeland and its people. Their interview is accompanied by a stunning photo shoot.

Big Issue North, UK

Life of spice: why Brits, including homeless, favour legal highs
By Gary Ryan

It’s associated with seizures and psychotic episodes and many users hate it. So why is spice – the umbrella term for a variety of synthetic cannabis products that have brand names such as Black Mamba and Clockwork Orange – so popular in the UK? In the US, it has been linked to scores of deaths, particularly among the homeless population, a trend that is being repeated across northern England. Big Issue North speaks to experts and users about the strange world of legal highs.

Read the full article here

Credit: Trond Ola Tilseth

Sorgenfri, Norway

Lethal needles
By Trond Ola Tilseth

Norway has one of Europe’s highest rates of narcotics-related deaths. Every week, five people die from drug overdose. Four out of five drug deaths are related to opiate-injections. But that’s not what Adam is thinking about as he sneaks behind Trondheim Cathedral to get his fix of morphine. Sorgenfri’s Trond Ola Tilseth discovers why addicts in Trondheim are willing to risk all for a lethal high.

Credit: Matailong Du

Street Sense, USA

“What Are You?” Finding a place for transgender homeless
By Sabrina Caserta

In the U.S., one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Transgender women are often inappropriately housed in gendered shelters, making them more at risk of harassment and violence. Street Sense speaks to transgender homeless women about the discrimination and hardships they have faced within the shelter system, an experience which led LGBTQ campaigner Ruby Corado to open Casa Ruby, Washington DC’s second LGBTQ homeless shelter.

Read the full article here.

Straatnieuws, Netherlands

“We need to fight for a world without poverty”: Pope Francis grants rare interview to street papers
By Stijn Fens & Jan-Willem Wits

Pope Francis rarely grants interviews, but the opportunity to address international street papers was enough to persuade him that INSP was worth a spot in his busy diary. So, on 27 October, formerly homeless street paper seller Marc sat down with the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics in the Vatican. The Straatnieuws vendor was accompanied by Dutch journalists Stijn Fens and Jan-Willem Wits. In a wide-ranging interview, the Holy Father opened up to them about his childhood in Buenos Aires, his life in Rome and his lack of football skills.

Read the full interview here.