Homeless People as Agents of Self-representation: Exploring the Potential of Enhanced Participation in a Community Newspaper Project
ABSTRACT: Homeless people are subjected to disadvantageous representations in the media, also lacking opportunities for self-representation. This article reports on the findings of two preparatory stages of a project that involves homeless people in the publication of their own newspaper. The findings show that homeless people want to represent themselves through self-created news and to address homelessness as a social issue through people’s life stories, which has the potential to challenge mainstream media practices related to portraying homelessness. At the same time, the analysis reveals several issues that need to be considered while implementing such projects. For example, self-empowerment may sometimes come at the price of disempowerment of others. This emphasizes the importance of carefully structuring the facilitating processes to promote homeless people’s genuine media participation, and to support individual and community empowerment.