Think Again: Poor Coverage on Poverty

Source: Eric Alterman and George Zornick, Center for American Progress, August 7, 2008

Earlier this week, “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric told viewers that the state of California was planning to cut the jobs and wages of state workers. Of the more than 200,000 workers who were to be fired or see their wages reduced, a grand total of zero appeared or were quoted on Couric’s program. No discussion with those workers who are soon to be fired about their probable descent into poverty. No chat with those facing lower wages about what it will be like to struggle among the working poor. Nada.
CBS’s decision was of a piece with most media reporting of issues that affect poor people–to the degree that such issues are reported at all. The most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau show that one in eight Americans live below the poverty line. A study by the University at Michigan’s National Poverty Center reveals that one in three Americans will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. And yet the only people less visible in our media today than the poor at home are our soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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