John is a Manhattan reporter working for a newspaper in the 1890s. When all the Newsies go on strike he’s dying to get the story, but has trouble finding boys who are actually willing to let him get an interview. He’s about to give up on the story when he accidentally assists in newsy orphan Dave Strider’s escape from the horrible childrens jail, The Refuge. The Newsy could be his only link to the story, unfortunately he is more interested in saving his own skin and doesn’t want anything to do with John or the local papers. However, after many favors and a subtle hint of blackmail Dave agrees to work with John provided that he gives him shelter from local policemen for as long as deemed fit. Forced to comply, they soon strike up an unlikely friendship and take on the streets full of riots, strikes, and dangerously angry policemen together.