1996 Homeless Grapevine Reader Survey

1996 Homeless Grapevine Reader Survey Results

     In Issue #16 The Homeless Grapevine surveyed its reader about Ohio’s street newspaper. While only twenty-three people took the time to complete the survey, those who responded made many comments about the paper. What follows is a compilation of the readers’ opinions and comments. Overall the results were favorable, with 83% giving the paper an overall positive score and only 8% responding with a negative overall impression of the paper.

The Homeless Grapevine will publish a second survey in mid-1997 if you missed the chance to respond. Remember that we are always willing to publish all signed letters that arrive.

Thanks to Jim Patton and Landis Cotton for compiling this survey, and thanks to Max Johnson for the graphs [omitted from this archived story].

  1. How old are you?

0 below 18 9% 26-35

27% 18-25 41% 36-49

22.7% Over 50


2. What is your current work status?

13.6% part-time work 63.6% full-time work

9% retired 0 student

9% unemployed/no job 9% underemployed


3. What is your city of residence?

33% Cleveland

19% Lakewood

19% Cleveland Heights

4.5% (each) Shaker Heights, South Euclid, Middleburg Heights, Rocky River, Warren, Columbus, Cincinnati


4. Other local publications that I read include:

74% Plain Dealer 26% Sun Press

39% Free Times 9% Akron Beacon

39% Other


5. How often do you buy a Grapevine?

9% Never 57% Sometimes

43% Always


6. Do you read the Grapevine that you buy/pick up?

91% Yes 9% No


7. Do you buy more than one of the same issue just to support the concept of the paper?

35% Yes 65% No


8. Do you have a hard time finding a Grapevine?

4% Yes 96% No


9. Where do you usually buy a Grapevine?

17% Downtown

9% (each) Tower City, Gateway, E. 117th and St. Clair, Coventry, and by subscription

4.5% (each) West Side Market, University Circle, E. 9th and St. Clair, Shaker Square, and Cosgrove meal site


10. How have you found our vendors?

74% Pleasant 48% Professional

61% Courteous 0 Surly, rude

0 Unfriendly 13% No opinion


11. How much do you usually pay for a Grapevine?

0 Under $.50 0 $.50 to $.99

73% $1.00 4.5% Over $1.00

14% Free 9% Subscription


12. Who is your favorite vendor?

Angelo, Bob, Marilyn, and Donald Whitehead all received votes:

“We enjoy them all”

“No favorite”


13. Would you hire a vendor of the Grapevine if you had a job available?

61% Yes 9% No 30% No response


14. Have you ever had a bad experience with a vendor?

86% No 10% Yes 4% No answer

“Gave a dollar then he told me it was his last one. This happened twice. I don’t know his name.”

“Poor questions [questions 13 and 14]. NO one should hire a stranger because they are homeless. ‘Homeless’ is a buzzword. Too many characters use it. In earlier years they were beggars. Professionals. Once, one was tracked from Detroit to beg and returned home to wealthy living.”

“I believe the Grapevine should be sold in the Columbus area.”

“There’s a couple guys who hang out by the bank machine behind Revco who are rude and pushy. It bothers me that they hang by the [bank machine] and then get pushy.”

“Except those [that] I believe [are not] legitimate who use the paper to panhandle and are rude and aggressive.”


15. How often do you see people using the Grapevine to collect money or panhandle?

9% Often 4% Not often

22% Sometimes 52% Never

13% No answer


16. Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the vendors (1=They are horrible, 10=They are the best)—

22%-5 4%-6 13%-7 13%-8 26%-9

13%-10 9%-No answer


17. How much of the paper do you read?

43% All 26% Most

17% Some 4% Very little

0% I just look at the pictures 10% No answer


18. What articles do you enjoy reading?

65% Editorials/commentaries 48% Letters

57% Profiles 65% News

13% Children’s pages 43.4% Poetry


19. What areas would you like to see the Grapevine cover?

“You are doing a fine job. . . . You seem to have presented a wide variety of news/feature articles.”

“City housing policy. ‘Bright spots’/examples of working programs (programs that are succeeding and bring people together through the issue of homelessness).”

“How to donate unneeded items so they benefit the homeless.”

“Positive things happening also.”

Grapevine should create some measures to show & publish its impact on the problem.”

“People who are homeless and need a place to stay.”

“Good as it is, unique and compelling, need to give voice to the homeless.”

“First-person stories are attention getters.”

“Perhaps some follow-ups of the stories about the various people we read about in the H.G.”

“Your coverage seems pretty durn good to me!”

“Voting, registration, and education.”


20. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the trustworthiness of Grapevine articles (1=I do not trust the Grapevine, 10=The Grapevine is the highest authority)?

4%-4 9%-5 17%-6 13%-7 17%-8

22%-9 4%-10

“A little biased, though usually rightly so.”

“Highest authority??”


21. Considering the content of the paper, please indicate your feelings about this statement: “Your paper panders to the liberal ideology in our society, and gives no other point of view” (1=Strongly agree, 10=strongly disagree).

13%-1 9%-2 4%-3 13%-4 13%-5

9%-6 4%-7 4%-8 13%-9

18% No answer

“Anyway, what’s so bad about the ‘liberal ideology’?”


22. How could we improve the content of the paper?

“I understand the anger is a normal feature of all our lives but when an article seems to be angry, or has a hostile tone, it is easy for the reader to dismiss the writer as biased.”

“Better training by writers. Better trained editorial staff. Don’t simply glamorize the homeless life, nor pretend the homeless are 100% naïve, innocent, righteous, soothsayers (it’s a little somewhere in the middle, wouldn’t you say?).”

“Encourage your carriers to be more available. I see vendors every once in a great while. If I see I usually buy.”

“Cover the ‘other side’ of the issue. The arguments against endlessly providing help, but rather expecting ‘workfare.’”

“More articles by the homeless.”

“Proofread the damn thing. And refuse submissions from those that can’t write standard English. (Editor’s note: Like the homeless?) Get new editors who actually edit out shit!”

“Columns on small things that people can do to help—little ‘doable’ steps. Perhaps an article on 10 small things you can do to help the homeless. Print new lists periodically. Profile an outstanding volunteer.”

“[I] do not agree with ‘liberal’ in the political sense, but agree you appeal to the emotions of the ‘bleeding heart.’ You could 1) publish interviews with politicians; 2) publish interviews with CEOs; 3) publish about other homeless organizations (good/bad); 4) reduce criticism and ‘finger pointing’; 5) obtain an editorial consultant.”

“The way to improve the paper is not to have it anymore, i.e., no more homeless, no more homeless newspaper.”

“Write more articles about homeless. Put more color in the paper. Have stories about people who were homeless and who have a place to stay now. They can tell others how to become self-sufficient. Have more poems about the homeless.”

“I like the myth and fact article [in issue #16]. Not sure it is necessary to quote people who use foul language. Pictures [like those in issue #16] are quite unsettling, but extremely powerful.”

“Better proofreading?”

“Be more accurate in what is said. Just because someone says something does not make it accurate. [You need] more than just their word. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. [Issue #16] shows improvement in this area. [Bad] language is not acceptable. We need to be more constructive in the articles.”


23. Has the Grapevine changed your opinion about any issue?

48% Yes 35% No 17% No answer


24. Do you discuss or think about the articles/issues in the Grapevine?

83% Yes 9% No 8% No answer


25. Do you enjoy the photographs in the Grapevine?

83% Yes 0 No 17% No answer


26. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=Poor quality, 10=High quality and superior content), how would you rate the content of the articles in the Grapevine?

9%-4 9%-5 4%-6 17%-7 22%-8

9%-9 13%-10 14%-No answer


27. Using the same scale as in question 26, how would you rate the photography?

13%-5 13%-6 17%-7 26%-8 13%-9

4%-10 14%-No answer


28. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=Difficult to read, 10=Easy to read), how would you rate the readability of the Grapevine?

4%-3 13%-5 9%-7 26%-8 22%-9

17%-10 9% No answer


29. Using the same scale as in question 28, how would you rate the layout of the Grapevine?

4%-4 9%-5 13%-6 4%-7 22%-8

26%-9 9%-10 13% No answer


30. Do you have any additional comments about the content or layout?

“For the budget and staff you probably have, it’s just fine.”

“I like the coverage of controversial topics—Project Homeless, that other people are afraid to report. In the Grapevine free speech is truly free! Not like other papers around here.”


“Your article on Life Direction/Project Homeless in Issue #16 was good, solid investigative journalism of which this city could use more. (I have contributed to this outfit over the years.) Paid a visit to the 154th St. address and my impression were the same as yours.”

“Yes! If I understand [the term] ‘layout,’ I think it is very good. . . . Re Content: The paper depresses the reader before it informs or educates. No wonder ads are so low. Re Other: Engage, especially vendors, in ‘continuous improvement’ seminars.”

“Perhaps a success story, i.e., from a homeless person through employment and new residence. Profile vendors.”

“I think an advice column would be helpful in education the public as to the plight of the homeless. If homeless people read the Grapevine an advice column might help them too.”

“Picture of Rock Hall of Fame needs a story with it. (Editor’s note: Rock Hall picture caption was not serious, but was intended to make a point. We are sorry for any confusion.) We need to get long-time vendors jobs to show the success, and stop them [from] using the paper to collect, not sell, the paper.”


31. Have you ever been to a Grapevine fundraiser?

4% Yes 87% No 9% No answer


32. Would you come to a Grapevine fundraiser?

43% Yes 17% No 40% No answer


33. Have you ever beaten up a vendor and stolen his or her papers?

4% Yes 65% No 31% No answer

“What a silly question.”

(Editor’s Note: You would be surprised how often this happens.)


34. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=Failure, 10=Ingenious concept), what is your impression of the Grapevine as a business for low income/homeless?

4%-2 9%-3 4%-7 26%-8

13%-9 30%-10 14% No answer


35. Does the Grapevine serve its mission as a voice for the homeless?

43% Yes 48% Somewhat 0 No 9% No opinion


36. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=Trash, 10=Excellent), what is your overall impression of The Homeless Grapevine?

4%-3 4%-5 9%-6 9%-7

22%-8 17%-9 26%-10 9% No answer


Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #18, November-December 1996