Earlier this week I talked about the poverty measure and the necessary changes needed to accurately determine how public policy helps the impoverished. But in order to improve the lives of the impoverished in the U.S., we need more than an accurate measurement of poverty. We need a society that is both knowledgeable and concerned about those 46.5 million people living below the poverty line. Otherwise, no one will care enough about the impoverished to help them better their lives.
Some of our country continues to believe that anyone living in poverty is just lazy. Most do not associate those who work with those in poverty, but this idea is incorrect. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 10.4 million persons in 2011 were working but still living below the official poverty level. As journalists, we are charged with educating the public. We must focus more on poverty or we will not be able to rid ourselves of this epidemic.
How often is Poverty Covered?
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed news outlets and their news coverage from 2007 to 2012. They found that only 0.2 percent of coverage focused on poverty during that time period. In a Nieman Report, Dan Froomkin quotes Mark Jurkowitz, the associate director of the project
“In no year did poverty coverage even come close to accounting for as little as one percent of the news hole. It’s fair to say that when you look at that particular topic, it’s negligible,” says Jurkowitz.
What should Journalists do?
I cannot emphasize how often my journalism professors tell us that we are charged with educating the public and informing them of the important issues in our society. As journalists, how can we continue to ignore such a prominent issue?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of the United States live below the poverty line. With such a large percentage of the population struggling to make ends meet, we must focus more on the topic. And when we focus, we are required to not just talk about those in poverty, but also the political and social issues that create this immense poverty.
What do you think? How can we cover more poverty in the news without boring our readers? Why does our society tend to ignore this growing issue?