Roughly 40 million people live in poverty in the USA. Can you imagine living under $24,000 a year for a family of four? If you can’t, why can’t you? Surely the media should help. This week, why are mainstream media so poor at covering poverty – and what is one project doing to tell those important stories. Stellar reporters and some of their reporting, this week on The Laura Flanders Show.
“We’re having the reckoning in terms of race and gender in terms of who tells what story, and there’s an acknowledgement, at least the beginnings that people of color need to tell their own stories, women need to tell their own stories. But we haven’t had that conversation around class, around working people.” — Yoruba Richen
“We need to show the other side, to give us a balance in America so we’re not just one-sided slanted.” — Joseph Rodriguez
“The number of people who are struggling today is enormous, and they’re struggling not because of lack of effort, but they’re struggling because of systemic issues that this country has set up to hold us back rather than to give us a leg up.” — David Wallis
David Wallis – Managing Director, Economic Hardship Reporting Project
David Wallis is the managing director of The Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Previously, Wallis served as opinion editor of The Forward and deputy editor of The New York Observer. In 2000, Wallis founded Featurewell.com, an international syndication agency. Featurewell enables editors worldwide to quickly license high quality journalism by more than 1500 top writers, including Robert Reich, Susan Cheever and Jimmy Breslin. The site also markets articles first appearing in The Hill, Observer.com and Reason magazine, among other publications.
Yoruba Richen – Filmmaker and Board Member of Economic Hardship Reporting Project
Yoruba’s work has been featured on PBS, New York Times Op Doc, Frontline Digital, New York Magazine’s website -The Cut, The Atlantic and Field of Vision. Her latest film The Green Book: Guide to Freedom will be broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel in February 2019. Yoruba’s last feature documentary, The New Black won multiple festival awards and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award.
Joseph Rodriguez – Photojournalist
Joseph Rodriguez is an internationally recognized documentary photographer, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in such publications as Fokus Magazine, American Photo, Black&White, ESPN, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Jane, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Los Angeles Magazine, Mother Jones, Newsweek, Esquire, Stern and Der Spiegel. He was awarded Pictures of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the University of Missouri, in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 2002.
Hard work, not enough money coming in, precarious housing, food that’s scarce… Poverty is a persistent factor of American life, but reporting on it is surprisingly tricky, especially in a media culture that has a lot of time for celebrities and clickbait, but not a whole lot of interest in, or even connection to, the reality that millions of Americans live. In 2012, Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the best-selling book Nickel and Dimed on getting by in America founded something called the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. The mission: to tell real stories in creative, affecting, sometimes jarring ways, and to help journalists who face economic hardship themselves do this work.