Big Issue staff fo as Bird opts for 'shared editorial'

Bird: "we are not a special case"

Big Issue founder John Bird hit back at claims the magazine is in crisis this week, but said it would have to forge closer links with other UK and overseas editions to survive.

His comments came as around 10 staff, including editor Matthew Collin, took voluntary redundancy from the London office amid plans to give the magazine a wider outlook.

Bird said he wanted to create a new kind of publication with a new team, incorporating material from other editions to reflect the Big Issue movement worldwide. "What we are doing, irrespective of falling advertising, is drawing on all the other Big Issues so that we have shared editorial – not just from England but from Europe, South America, Africa and the US. It has been on the cards for ages," he told Press Gazette.

"We fall by the marketplace and rise by the marketplace like everyone else. We are not a charity. What we are saying is a very sensible thing. You cannot go crying to the public saying, ‘Give us more money, we’re a special case’. We are not a special case. People have to buy the product."

He also denied the cuts were linked to potential new ventures in the US, but said he had received a number of appeals for help.

"We were not going to turn our backs on numerous desperate appeals in America so we were drawn there in order to make some social contributions," he said.

"I bought and sold buildings in order to speculate, but I never took any money out of running The Big Issue. I always ensured it was sound."

Bird said The Big Issue would continue to function, but stressed the movement was wider than the magazine, which sells around 250,000 copies.

By Ruth Addicott

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