Lists compilation

Compilation


#1 What do you think are the misunderstandings about poverty that journalists are most likely to confront?

(1)
That people are responsible for their own poverty; that poverty is caused by lack of willpower or willingness to work; that if they were eligible for government help they would be getting it.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Carol Polsgrove

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(2)

1. That poverty can’t be alleviated.
2. The poor are totally to blame or have no responsibility-either is wrong. Many factors are beyond their control, others aren’t.
3. That anti-poverty programs don’t work-they do. But they often need updating or to be refined for new groups in poverty.

(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(3)
I don’t think that journalists in many cases understand the entire picture. They can operate easily from stereotypes that impoverished people brought this on themselves. I think that they need to understand, it’s a lot more complicated than that. I’d start with that.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(4)
Most Americans do not understand that we are the most impoverished nation in the developed world or that poverty is a complicated mixture of structural injustice, the lack of capability of freedom to function at a minimal level, and behavioral responsibility. Too many Americans want to blame it all on a simple cause and often to declare the poor as undeserving rather than as victims of injustice or the consequences of their own mistakes.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(5)
I think one of the primary misunderstandings is the idea that most poor people don’t work. There is very little understanding of the fact that the majority of people living in poverty actually have jobs. But it’s an issue of, you can work 2 minimum-wage jobs and still not make above poverty wage. I guess the other thing is that that they would need to understand we tend to conflate poverty and homelessness and that’s often not an issue. Obviously homeless people tend to be poor but not all poor people are homeless. The other issue I guess that I think these journalists really need to be able to cope with is the complexity of the problem. Some of the reading that I’ve done suggests that one problem in the coverage of poverty is that journalists are reluctant to deal with it holistically, so that it’s not about poverty and healthcare, poverty and education or poverty and jobs, it’s all of those things. Education is related to not having a decent job which connects to not having good health care. It’s all bound up together. I think journalists are reluctant to reflect that much complexity. It’s sort of like, that’s too big, I can’t really write about all that at once. But you can’t really write about it unless you are dealing with all those issues at once.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(6)
That it’s illiteracy, economic and mental health, and that if it doesn’t fall within those three categories then obviously the people aren’t poor.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(7)
That poverty is caused primarily by laziness or personal failings – particularly dropping out of school, having a child outside marriage and misusing drugs or alcohol.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(8)
That poor people are likely to have a specific set of values, political beliefs and education. That most poverty comes necessarily with poor education, lack of understanding or knowledge of the world. Lack of sophistication about politics. Generally that they are probably going to be relatively dismissive of poor people.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(9)
That poverty is a permanent condition. That some people are always poor and that other people are not poor. Journalists do not think often enough about the dynamic nature of poverty.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(10)
Poverty in every community is relative, a thing entirely apart from government statistics that determine what poverty level means in dollars and cents. The term “full-employment” erroneously suggests a kind of comfort. “Full employment” tends to mask minimum wages and inadequate health care coverage. This is neither clearly understood, nor appreciated. Further, poverty is not as ghettoized as it once was, and so it very often is invisible. In the suburbs, it can exist cheek-to-jowl with financial comfort, effectively masked by inexpensive clothing, a leased car and two incomes. A family, whose existence is reduced to a 24-hour struggle to get by, may very well be only a sickness away from being homeless and destitute.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(11)
Journalists and students I have worked with and taught often have the belief that impoverished people have brought their situation on themselves by being lazy and indifferent. They may believe that entire families are milking the system and have no intention of improving their lot. This misunderstanding has to be corrected if the reporter is going to function properly and fairly in the coverage of poverty issues.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#2 What economic factors most contribute to poverty?

(12)
Availability of jobs that pay adequate wages; lack of unionized jobs; tax systems that penalize the poor (e.g. relying on sales tax instead of income tax); high cost of medical care; lack of free or inexpensive child care; high housing costs (probably more true in urban areas).
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Carol Polsgrove

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(13)
Lack of money. Okay, I’m being facetious. The factors (not just economic) that contribute to poverty: Lack of education; lack of job-training; cultural gaps/differences (such as punctuality, grammar, dress, manners, sense of responsibility and sensitivity to employers’ expectations) that run counter to the mainstream norm; family and peer pressures; weak economy or a changing economy that sheds workers.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(14)
Certainly there’s an enormous and growing income gap between the rich and the poor. I think ideology plays a part as well. I think that there are certain political agendas that say the poor have gotten what they deserve and they don’t deserve any additional assistance or any additional educational benefits. Those would be the major concerns I would have.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(15)
The shifting labor market that no longer rewards dependable unskilled labor at a decent wage; the inadequate healthcare system for poor citizens; and an educational system that leaves many poor Americans unprepared to function in today’s economy. We need journalists to write about these problems.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(16)
Scarcity of well-paying jobs. However, it is also the case that there’s a conflict, because in some areas where there are really good jobs and there are some people who have those jobs that actually creates more of a problem for people in that area that are low-income b/c it tends to raise housing prices and the cost of living generally in those areas. That’s a huge issue for university towns for instance. You have a population of people who are well-educated and generally make pretty good money and you’ve got a very large transient population of people who don’t need to make a lot of money. They just need to make a little bit b/c their parents are still supporting them for the most part. That brings wages down for people who aren’t in college. Healthcare is a huge issue b/c people who don’t have good healthcare are far more at risk on their jobs but the cost of healthcare is one reason that so few companies provide healthcare and are unable to provide decent health coverage for their employees and also pay decent wages.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(17)
Health insurance, unemployment, underemployed, part-time jobs, lack of family planning, low-income jobs, no industry support.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(18)
Recession, family structure (i.e. single parent families), wage trends (especially for low-skill workers with limited education), weakness of unions, increased economic globalization and its uneven impact on U.S. workers, geographic differences.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(19)
Right now low wages and gaps between the rich and poor which is a result of low wages, downsizing, exporting jobs and globalization of economy.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(20)
It’s hard to know what’s the chicken and what’s the egg. Are certain communities poor b/c there’s a lack of adequate jobs that pay decently, yeah that’s part of the problem. But do communities have trouble attracting high paying jobs b/c they have low education attainment levels, low health levels, and their workforce looks unappealing to a new industry? Yeah, that could be a factor. But it’s hard to know which comes first. In general, lack of jobs, lack of education, and lack of access to major transportation routes.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(21)
Poor-paying jobs and joblessness. Low minimum hourly wages. Exorbitant health-care costs. Steadily rising prices of food, transportation. A preponderance of part-time jobs that are bereft of adequate health care benefits and worker rights. Lack of education and poverty often go hand in hand, yet public, i.e., local, state and federal, financing of public education always lags, and in all but the most affluent communities, is rarely viewed as anything but an inexorable drain on tax dollars.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(22)
In rural areas, lack of access to education is the major obstacle. The rural high school student may be capable of attaining a college degree but is not always able to leave home to attend a college most suitable for his or her interests because of family obligations. Scholarships are inadequate and have not kept up with inflation. The promising student may have to drop out at age 16 and get a menial job to help support the family.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#3 A number of public policy institutes focus on poverty. The Urban Institute comes to mind, as an example. In your experience, which public policy institutes are the most helpful for journalists to consult?

(23)
Brookings, The Joint Center Political and Economic Studies; John Edwards’ Center on Poverty at Duke University; Children’s Defense Fund; and American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation should be part of the list for political variety and because they’re players in public policy.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(24)
I’ve not really done much with them. There’s an organization called the Poynter Institute out of St. Petersburg Florida that doesn’t just focus on poverty but it helps to provide an interesting background for a journalist on a variety of different subjects including poverty and racial issues. The Pew Center has done some interesting work on poverty.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(25)
There are many, UI is one. You might want to check the Washington and Lee Journalism Department’s website on poverty for others that we believe are valuable.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(26)
In dealing with healthcare, Kaiser Family Foundation.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(27)
Southern Fund does a lot of work in southern poverty, esp. in the African American community. The Fanning Institute has done huge surveys and development projects on poverty. Locally I would go to the Consumer and Family Services (Sharon Gibson and her boss Sue Griffin have done poverty related work, particularly in South Georgia counties).
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(28)
Institute on Race & Poverty at University of Minnesota, Manpower Demonstration Research Corp, Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin (http://www.irp.wisc.edu/), lots of local foundations & government agencies, Journalism Center on Children & Families at the University of Maryland (http://www.journalismcenter.org/)
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(29)
Urban Institute
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(30)
In the health arena it’s certainly the Kaiser Family Foundation who does the best ongoing analysis of poverty and health with their weekly updates. The National Academy of Sciences has done some good studies on health and wealth and on disparities in health status and access to health care. My focus is so firmly in the health arena that pretty much what I know about. Yes I know about the urban institute and the center for American progress, which is a pretty nonpartisan think tank and there’s the alliance for health.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(31)
The Rand Corporation: www.Rand.org
The Almanac of Policy Issues: http://www.policyalmanac.org/social_welfare/poverty.shtml
The Russell Sage Foundation: www.russellsage.org/
The Carnegie Foundation: www.carnegie.org
The Synergos Institute: www.synergos.org
The Brookings Center on Children and Families
The Economic Policy Institute
The Center for Housing Policy

(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(32)
I direct my students to learn about poverty from agencies that call on the indigent on a regular basis, like public aid case workers, visiting nurses, veteran’s affairs workers, and senior citizen volunteers. The student journalists should work with people who come in direct contact with the impoverished. Better yet, they should immerse themselves in the problems of the poor by visiting their homes and learning first hand. Leon Dash, a reporter for the Washington Post, spent two years visiting with one impoverished family and produced a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize. His work was educational, explanatory and very readable.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#4 What aspects of poverty do you focus on in your course?

(33)
I teach a public affairs reporting course that covers various areas, depending on the semester. In one particular semester I asked students to write specifically on poverty; some topics-health programs for the poor, the impact of high gas prices on nonprofit agencies that serve the poor. More often poverty is an issue that comes up in reporting another topic. For instance, in a recent set of stories of jails, one student reported on how imprisonment in jail further impoverishes already poor people because of fees and fines that are levied. In keeping with this approach, I would argue in favor of examining how the poor are affected in a range of stories on larger topics. At the same time, reporters need sometimes to focus more squarely on health care for the poor; educational problems faced by poor students or students in poorly funded schools; transportation needs of the poor; and difficulties poor people have getting social services and government-provided financial support; ways in which poor people are adversely affected by environmental pollution; working conditions for people in low-paid jobs. Local reporters would do well to talk to state legislators about current and prospective legislation that is likely to affect the poor, negatively or positively.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Carol Polsgrove

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(34)
I teach political reporting, so I emphasize how politics affects poverty and the obligation of journalists to be a voice for the voiceless, including the poor.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(35)
The course that I teach is community journalism and it’s taught here in the city of Chicago so it’s probably a little bit diff. than the kind of poverty you’re addressing. But a lot of it is similar, regardless of whether it’s rural or urban. I think what we try to have the students understand is the nature of poverty, that it’s not some form of punishment upon people who are lazy or shiftless or somehow deserve this. I think I want them to understand the larger picture in terms of how government can or cannot help, the role of industry, if industry pulls up stakes from inner city neighborhoods that that’s going to have some rather unpleasant consequences for the people in that particular community. There’s certainly a racial component. My students will go to an inner city neighborhood and work for an inner city weekly newspaper. The neighborhood is almost entirely African American. I think I want them to understand the nature of the struggle that African American people face in the inner city of Chicago. There’s a great deal of misunderstanding directed to them. There’s a great deal of prejudice. I think it’s just important for them to get to meet people who suffer from poverty face to face. It’s very easy to deal with poverty from a stock or stereotypical image but I think that it’s very illuminating for students to get into a community, roll up their sleeves, and begin covering some issues that are in many cases driven by poverty. Inability to find adequate housing, decent food, decent clothing, inability to find a job, inability to live in a community that is safe from crime. It’s a very eye opening experience for my students.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(36)
I focus on domestic poverty in all of its dimensions. You can find my syllabus on our website. We have other courses that focus on international poverty and Washington and Lee now has more than twenty courses that address poverty. See the Shepherd website for the course listing.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(37)
What I have done is incorporate an assignment related to poverty in a magazine and feature writing class. What I’m trying to get the students to do there is just to have experience writing about people who are living in poverty, whatever the reason is that they are living in poverty. I don’t spend a lot of time teaching them about poverty, although I did actually talk about the myths of upward mobility, the idea that everybody has equal opportunity to get to the American dream. We talked about jobs, education, healthcare; we also talked a little bit about social capital. I guess that would be another important element that journalists need to understand, particularly journalists b/c I think journalism students forget that not everyone knows how to dig up information. Journalists tend to forget that not everybody knows how to find the name of the person that you need to talk to or the agency that would provide a particular service b/c journalists generally do know how to find the info. The other thing we did spend some time talking about is the idea that people are not necessarily primarily responsible for their own poverty. The idea that you can work really hard, you can have been an intelligent person, you can play by all the rules for the most part and you can still end up living in poverty b/c our society does not really protect against poverty.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(38)
Health, at least this latest on the magazine. We’re doing a magazine called thrive which is targeted at families of four between $25,000-35,000, which means that they’re on the edge of going into poverty but offering them tips on health, financial resources, diabetes, exercise, food planning.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(39)
History of public attitudes & social programs, trends in poverty
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(40)
I try to address covering not necessarily poor people but just covering the community and if the community has poor people in it then that’s what journalists should cover. Journalists are supposed to cover their community. When I’m teaching students about national coverage we talk about covering the bottom of the socio-economic ladders in cities, talk about covering inner city, rural poor. Covering poverty is going to be defined by the readership. When I talk about national issues we talk about covering poor urban, rural areas and also the developing world on a global level.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(41)
Def. the connection b/t poverty and health, both the health status of people and their access to care. Those are my big things.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(42)
The reporting and understanding of it. The reasons for poverty, its growth in a land of plenty and the extraordinary ramifications of it. I believe it is important for students to understand the nobility and importance of the work done in the 19th century by authors like Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew; in the early 20th century by the muckraking journalists, and later by John Steinbeck, Jack London, George Orwell, James Agee, Harrington, Galbraith, Shipler and Ehrenreich.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(43)
I taught a course in investigative reporting in addition to a course in writing and reporting. I also published a textbook last year, Investigative Journalism, Proven Strategies for Reporting the Story. I show how investigative reporters can take up the cause of the underdog, and poor people are certainly included. I show how to investigate consumer fraud perpetrated on the poor and elderly and expose the abuse of recipients of government programs who are treated rudely when they apply for entitlements. I show how to expose public aid nursing homes that sacrifice proper care of the poor for inordinate profits. I instruct the students in how to look for unfair treatment of poor and minority neighborhoods. Police may provide better protection in affluent neighborhoods, respond more quickly to their emergency calls and are less likely to make traffic stops. Municipal providers may keep the streets cleaner in rich neighborhood and the parks have better facilities.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#5 What three books would you recommend for the tool kit?

(44)
“There are no Children Here” by Alex Kotlowitz
“Amazing Grace: Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation” by Jonathan Kozol (1996)
“The Working Poor: Invisible in America” by David Shipler (2005)
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(45)
I don’t know exactly what you mean by the tool kit, but I assume that you are referring to a set of books a journalist should read. I think they should read David Shipler’s THE WORKING POOR and Jason DeParle’s AMERICAN DREAM, but I also think they should read an economist like Rebecca Blank or Janet Currie and some philosophy. Stuart White would be a good place to start, but for those who are willing to accept the challenge reading Amartya Sen, (maybe INEQUALITY REEXAMINED) could prove helpful. I think journalists should continue to read about poverty from different disciplinary perspectives and not limit their reading to fellow journalist. David Shipler and Jason DeParle don’t limit themselves in that way.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(46)
A book that’s kind of interesting that might appeal to journalists b/c it’s written by a journalist is “It’s All Over But the Shoutin'” by Rick Bragg. The other thing that I would probably encourage them to read would be the Pioneer Press did a big project on poverty, which I think was called “Poverty Among Us” which I think was done several months ago, and the other thing is The Palm Beach Post recently published a series of articles called “Modern Day Slavery.”
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(47)
“Out of the Bario” by Linda Chaves
“Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” by Janisse Ray
One on families really helped me understand that part of looking at poverty is redefining what a family is. If we define families as 2 parents and 2 children then we are really going to misguide people on how to get out of poverty, esp. with ethnic and African American families, those families aren’t defined the same way.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(48)
In the Shadow of the Poorhouse + Random Family, documentaries as follows: Country Boys, Hoop Dreams and Boys of Baraka
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(49)
“Rich Media, Poor Democracy” by Robert McChesney
“The Elements of Journalism” by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(50)
Pat Thomas
Number one choice would be “class matters” the New York Times collection of its prize winning series of articles that appeared in 2005, a series of 14 articles that the newspaper published. Easy and enjoyable to read, tremendously revealing. Also, Understanding Poverty by Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Roland Benabou, and Dilip Mookherjee.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)

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(51)
Wayne Worcester
“The Other America” by Michael Harrington
“The Working Poor” by David K. Shipler
“Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich
Also the PBS documentary “Waging a Living,” by Roger Weisberg
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)

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(52)
I have no recommendation. I believe the coverage of poverty issues transcends any book learning and should be attained by first-person contact with the poor.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#6 What Web sites would you recommend for the tool kit?

(53)
The website of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues: http://www.uky.edu/CommInfoStudies/IRJCI/blog.htm
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Carol Polsgrove

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(54)
All those for the public policy groups in number 3, plus government sites like the census, the congressional budget office, the government accountability office. Same for state and local government Web sites.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(55)
Ed Lawler
Poynter Institute, USDA, Urban Institute
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(56)
See the Washington and Lee Journalism Department website (http://onpoverty.org/) and its reference to think-tank websites. It is good to include AEI and the Heritage Foundation, even though you may not agree with what appears on their sites. You can also check out the Shepherd website for many papers on topics that will, we hope, interest journalist.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(57)
The Neiman Foundation did an article called “Remembering the Forgotten” that was about coverage of poverty which was quite good. Census Dept.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(58)
See above, plus the Census Bureau info on poverty.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(59)
Urban Institute, Pew Center. If I were talking to students about trying to cover agricultural poor I would send them first to something like a statistical database like that so they could find a demographic to cover. That would be one of the first ways to find something to cover.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy usser

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(60)
Kaiser Family Foundation (kff.org)
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(61)
In addition to those sites mentioned in the answer to question number three:
http://www.secondharvest.org/learn_about_hunger/Hunger_Almanac_2006.html
http://www.solutionsforamerica.org/thrivingneigh/homelessness.html
http://www.nationalhomeless.org/
http://www.nchv.org/background.cfm
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html
www.pbs.org/pov/pov2006/wagingaliving/about.html
www.Carnegie.org/reporter
www.factfinder.census.gov

(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(62)
Web sites of state agencies are important. Every state will have a web site for its public assistance agency that explains the rules and programs, the state attorney general will have a web site for its consumer fraud division, the state labor department will provide information about unemployment compensation, and the public health agency will show health care programs. Journalists will find these agencies more helpful than federal agencies, I believe, because they are familiar with the local laws and local problems. When a well-intended federal government program goes awry it is usually detected first on the local level.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#7 Which federal poverty programs are the most important for journalists to know about and understand? The Earned Income Tax Credit comes to mind, as an example. Which federal programs would be on your list?

(63)
Charlotte Grimes
Welfare, job training, food stamps, Medicaid
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(64)
Well I think they need to know the role that some of the major agencies play, such as housing and urban development, earned income tax credit is important because it does put a small amount of money in the pockets of impoverished people. State and municipal agencies that are very important when it comes to covering poverty. At least here in Chicago there is something called Section 8 housing which provides vouchers for impoverished people so a lot of residents in the North Lawndale community receive federal section 8 housing subsidies or vouchers in which it helps them rent a property they probably could not afford on their own. Avoids the other issue of putting people in these subsidized high-rise housing which has been largely a failure here in Chicago. Food stamps to the USDA would be important. Programs for journalists to understand as well.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(65)
EITC, Food Stamps, Head Start, NCLB, housing programs, SCHIP, Medicaid, job training programs, TANF, and Child Support Enforcement come immediately to mind. They should also look at he Community Services Block Grant and Community Action Agencies and at the Community Economic Development movement. See William Simon’s book on the later.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(66)
Welfare, AFDC, Medicaid, Medicare and their shortcomings, limitations on workman’s comp in their state b/c one thing I think a lot of journalists don’t understand is that people make the assumption that if you get injured in the course of doing your job that you are automatically eligible for workman’s comp but that is not necessarily that case, b/c at least in some states in order to qualify people have to be able to prove that their injury is job related. Let’s say for instance that you have a back injury. If you have a previous back injury that wasn’t work related and then you injure yourself at work, you aren’t necessarily going to be able to prove that the new injury was work-related. I know someone who in the past year, who works in the nursing home. She developed a detached retina b/c she lifts elderly people all day long but the doctors told her since there was no way to prove she developed it b/c of her work then she was not eligible for workman’s compensation. It’s the things that we always think of as safety nets; a lot of those things have loopholes. I know of elderly couples who can’t afford assisted living and remain together. In this case in the state of FL they could only get a certain provision if they separated. There are a lot of family unfriendly policies. Major ones are workman’s comp, welfare. The WICK program (it was at one time one of the single most successful poverty reduction programs that we have ever come up with), food stamps.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(67)
It would have to be policy regarding affordable housing. What is the recommendation? We should have ¼ of our income go toward housing to be lucrative and to be able to have money to eat on and do those things that we need to do yet most people in poverty spend half or ¾ of their income on housing. So when you have those strong statistics you want to look at any policy regarding affordable housing.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(68)
Section 8 & other housing programs, SCHIP & Medicare, Food Stamps & federal grants for low-income students to attend college.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(69)
Earned Income Tax Credit, Peachcare program in Georgia, whatever healthcare program is designed for families without health insurance.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(70)
One of the only means-tested federal programs that has ever shown in research to be of actual benefit to people is the Dept. of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Feeding Program for women, infants and children (WIC). Comes through block grants to the states and is used to provide nutrition and diet counseling and health counseling to pregnant women, women who have recently delivered babies, the babies that they have to about age five. Brings regular prenatal health assessments… I don’t think reporters know a lot about it.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(71)
I believe the U.S. Department of Agriculture school lunch program and the food stamp program are extremely important. For some children in poverty, it may be the only proper meal they get each day. Journalists should make sure the local school districts and utilizing the program to the greatest extent. Also, recipients of the food stamp program should not be embarrassed publicly when they receive the food stamp benefits.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#8 What should journalists know about:
a. Poverty and race in their communities?

(72)
I’m sorry, but the only honest answer I can give to this is “everything.”
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(73)
They are inextricably linked, at least in the city of Chicago. It is important for students to understand that not all African Americans are impoverished, but they do go to some of these city communities and see nothing but African American people. They need to understand that poverty isn’t visited on people strictly b/c they’re African American. Students need to understand that there are a whole welter of factors that come into play (government indifference, prejudice directed at them by the mainstream community. I think one of the problems is they move into communities that are older and already in a state of decline.)
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(74)
They should know that poverty and race are inextricably intertwined. Read William Julius Wilson on these matters.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(75)
The first thing they need to know is that not all poor people are minorities. Again we have a tendency to stereotype and make the assumption that poor people are always members of minority groups. There is an association b/t race and poverty and there are lots and lots of complex reasons for that, some of which have to do with the history of racism in this country, some of which have to do with crime and family instability and the fact that people are living in poor neighborhoods. So that brings in the whole education system, how important. The spending on education is in ameliorating racial disparities and poverty. Again the importance of health care, how much that contributes to racial disparities and poverty.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(76)
Leara Rhodes
That it’s not racial, that there are a lot of ethnic communities with poverty but if you look at the studies, at least the ones I’ve looked at, there are just as many whites in poverty, percentage-wise, as there were blacks. Particularly, when it came to children, so I don’t think race is a factor, that’s why I said education, economics, those factors play more than race.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(77)
Lynda McDonnell
What are the numbers now and what’s the history, what causes the difference, the effects on economy. How many poor people have significant barriers to work – chronic health or mental health problems? No reliable transportation?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(78)
They should have a strong sense of whether or not they’re equivalent, not just accept the conventional wisdom. I think a lot of people are unaware of the extent to which rural white people are poor. So I think what they would need to do is make sure they are very clear on what the socioeconomic ethnic labels really mean in their area.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(79)
I think here is where a sense of place really becomes important. There are historical reasons why one community is diff. from another. The history of a specific place often shapes the long term fate of the subpopulations in that place. We don’t look at what the sources of income were in a community before some sort of change occurred.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(80)
In principle, poverty is an equal opportunity affliction. While boundaries of race, ethnicity, color and religion are artificial in that sense, each of them often becomes a tool used against the poor in places where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a white majority.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(81)
Journalists should know that there are elements of society who will exaggerate the cost of poverty programs, disregard their ultimate benefit to society and promote stereotypes of the poor and minorities. These persons or groups will often plant unfounded stories that journalists should carefully investigate for their credibility.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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b. Poverty and children?

(82)
There’s a tragically high incidence of it in both the inner cities and urban areas. There are children who go to bed hungry at night in relatively wealthy country there are children that live in sub-standard housing. There are children in this city alone, 22 Chicago school children killed primarily in gun-fire in inner cities. Poor children face enormous barriers that the general journalist would be hard to imagine, hard to fathom, just in terms of basics, such as having enough to eat, having a safe environment, roof over your head, adequate and warm clothing.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(83)
They should read Janet Currie on education, daycare, housing, healthcare, and other matters that impinge on the well-being of children in poverty.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(84)
They ought to know what a hug percentage of children are living in poverty. They ought to understand the whole cycle of poverty, the reason that that occurs. Because kids who come from poor families are less likely to go to good schools, less likely to be prepared for school. Another agency they should know about is Head Start. Again I think the idea that if we did a better job, spending more money on kids living in poverty when they are very young, we would have a better chance of not needing to continue to spend it. Those kids would have a far better chance of growing up and not being in poverty when they’re adults.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(85)
It hits them hardest and they can’t help it. It’s so unfair, like health insurance, it’s not their fault. Why should they be penalized b/c they were born? I don’t get it.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(86)
What are the numbers now and what’s the difference by race, what’s being done to close any achievement gap, reduce drop-out rates, etc. How are parents engaged & trained? How does it poverty affect children’s health and ability to learn? How’s it feel to be a poor kid in this town? What do you do in the summer?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(87)
Nancy Nusser
The extent to which it impacts the overall economy. When the society doesn’t take care of its lowest socioeconomic people (poor children), what happens ultimately down the road to the economy for everybody, b/c that’s the way to make poverty delve into everybody. They should know about things that surprise journalists like the infant mortality rate in the United States and find out whether it’s been rising or lowering. They should also know about education levels.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(88)
Alas, children are dependent on their parents. Trouble is that they’re more vulnerable. Huge literature that shows if you don’t have books at home, the encouragement to learn at home, if you don’t have parents who believe that education is power and the way to social advancement, then the chances are you won’t value education. And children get those messages early and they’ll always be disadvantaged compared to kids who have books and who have parents who ask them whether they did their homework, teach them new vocabulary. Poverty is def. a handicap to little kids concerning education but also on health status. If parents on S-chip they have access if parents know how to use it and if the parent has transportation.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(89)
Children always are the first victims of poverty. Nearly 25 percent of children in the United States live at or below the poverty line.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(90)
Children will carry the message to a reader because of their simple answers to complex problems. A child may say “I want to be an astronaut” and the journalist will have to explain the probability of that happening when the poor or minority child is faced with the realities.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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c. Poverty and crime?

(91)
Ed Lawler
There’s certainly a strong correlation b/t poverty and crime. I think when you’re poor you have a lack of choices. I think people become a bit more desperate, regardless of race, a desperate person is going to look for an opportunity to put bread on the table somehow and unfortunately that is done illegally in some cases.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(92)
Journalist need to be aware of both crime prevention programs and of public defender systems, especially problematic in Georgia. Georgia journalists should be in touch with Doug Ammar, Executive Director of the Georgina Justice Project. I believe it has a branch in Athens.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(93)
The very strong correlation, that it’s not coincidental that there’s far less crime in areas where people have good jobs. People who have good jobs and a decent income generally aren’t involved in crime. Poverty tends to be more prevalent in a community where you have a lot of adolescents unless they are all going to college. The link b/t jobs and crime, and joblessness and crime.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(94)
Leara Rhodes
I think economics does drive crime. We see that in areas of poverty we have more crime. You don’t see a lot of crime in wealthy gated communities. But you see the drive by shootings and everything; I think that is drug-enforced crime. If you look at the blotter something is always happening on Nellie Bly.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(95)
What’s the connection? What’s being done to help people coming out of prison into jobs (are inmates able to get education in prison)? What sort of legal assistance is available to poor people? How do sentences for the same crime vary by race & income?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(96)
I think that what journalists need to do is make sure that the conventional wisdom and the clichés about that, that poverty and crime go hand and hand, are really true in their community. They should find out who the victims of crime are in their communities. It would be really nice to do a story about the extent that white collar crime outstrips this other kind of crime in terms of its impact, in terms of how much is really netted. And the stigma attached to crime that is not in corporations.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser
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(97)
If I don’t have anything and you have stuff and I’m a desperate enough person I’ll probably steal it. If people don’t see a place for themselves in the mainstream economy then alternate economies will spring up. Dealing drugs, there are people that think that the only way to find advancement and a decent living is by doing something illicit. Used to be moonshine, long tradition in white rural South, that was a pretty good living to people. If you’re shut out of one economy then you’ll find an alternate economy, even if it’s outside the law. I don’t think people set out to be criminals. I think if people felt like there was a legal way to earn a living, a DECENT living, not a burger flipping living that probably there would be fewer young people who dove into the illegal economy. If you’ve got mouths to feed and things you want in this world and you’re deeply immersed in [material] culture, you’re going to want those things.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(98)
Poverty breeds crime. White inmates do not comprise the majority populations of state and federal prisons in the United States.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(99)
William Gaines
Criminal records are easy to come by in an urban poverty neighborhood as police round up dozens of young people they call gang members only because they were in the wrong place. Then the criminal arrest goes on the record and the otherwise employable person is unable to get a job.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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d. Poverty and access to financial services?

(100)
One of the stories and one of the concerns we try to make students aware of is the whole idea of red-lining. In inner city neighborhoods, and I’m sure this is true in rural impoverished areas, mainstream businesses choose not to do business in those areas. Insurance is not provided in some cases. Mortgage companies don’t want to lend money in some areas. Grocery stores don’t want to provide services in certain areas. So this whole sort of infrastructure of poverty journalists need to understand but probably aren’t going to learn that in school. I think they probably have to self-educate themselves on some of these issues.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(101)
Read about sub prime lending and housing and about predatory lending at payday loan establishments, but also about credit in general. See David Shipler, chapter two, I think, on this matter.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(102)
Most banks now charge a certain amount for a checking account. You don’t get free checking unless you maintain a minimum balance well if you have a minimum wage job and you’re living hand to mouth, you’re not going to be able to maintain a minimum balance in your checking account, which means you are going to get charged for something that someone else who’s able to keep 6,000-7,000 in saving isn’t going to get charged for. So it’s sort of one of those things where those who have get and those who don’t have gets to pay the fees. Obviously the lower your income the less likely you are to be able to get a loan to start up a small business or something like that. The other issue that kind of goes along with that topic is the fact that credit card companies have irresponsibly marketed credit and the use of credit to people who are in low-income situations.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(103)
They have no access to financial services. When you start seeing pawn shops pop up in communities you need to be aware that the economic structure has broken down. We have one now on the eastside and I’m just going oh my God, because I know what that means. It means we have more and more people not having access to traditional forms of loans and can’t make it from pay day to pay day.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(104)
How much do poor people rely on Unbanks & what do they charge? What do banks charge for the same services (or do they even offer them)? How have poor people been used in the sub prime mortgage market? What do tax preparers charge for advances on refunds & are there ways to get taxes done free? How do pawn shops operate?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(105)
Journalists should be trying to investigate and find out what it takes to get access to those, what it’s like to be a poor person trying to get access to those programs. B/c I think that they would find that it’s a lot harder to actually get help than one would realize and how much work it takes. More and more formerly middle-class people are becoming aware of how much work it takes being poor, how hard it is to be poor. It takes a long time if your health insurance company doesn’t pay your bills. It’s like a full time job trying to find a way to make your insurance company pay for what it’s supposed to pay for. It takes a long time to make your way through any of the welfare programs to get food stamps, food aide, and free healthcare. I have friends who have recently become really kind of poor and I hear them talking about wading through the bureaucracy trying to get what they are supposed to get. Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich did a story about what it was like to work minimum wage. Interesting to see journalists go out and try to navigate the system that poor people have to navigate in order to get what they need.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser
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(106)
A lot of poor people don’t trust banks. If you’re poor you are going to have a hard time getting a loan to buy a house or a car. Sometimes the diff. between being a functioning member of society and being shut out of it is sometimes a small amount of money. (gave example) If we had a more flexible financial system, a way to make a small loan like that to a working person who probably would be able to pay it back in small installments it would have made an enormous diff. in that man’s life. Our financial institutions are geared toward people who already have some degree of wealth. People with no degree of wealth pay incredible interest rates for payday loans, exorbitant fees to cash their checks if they don’t have a regular bank account. Fees to wire money to family if they don’t have a checking account. They pay higher rates for routine financial services than middle class people do which makes their already limited resources go even less far. I don’t think reporters write about that much.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(107)
More often than not, it takes money and education to access financial services. One of the terrible ironies of poverty is that it is expensive to be poor.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(108)
William Gaines
I did redlining stories when I was a reporter for The Chicago Tribune and one, called “The Black Tax” I found that individual discrimination was not the major problem it was in the past because of the housing and lending laws. But providers found a way to skirt the law by discriminating against minority neighborhoods in banking, home loans and mortgages by noting the zip code on the application. We were able to show that a person living in a minority neighborhood was being made to pay more for the same service and justified our title, “The Black Tax.”
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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e. Poverty and education?

(109)
Access is the big problem I think for impoverished people. I think there’s the notion that well if you’re poor then you’ll be given all the grants that you could possibly want but I think again in Chicago public schools, so few high school students go to college, which is unfortunate b/c there are a number of schools that would provide them a great deal of financial assistance, but I think there’s this perception that college is not a place for us, that there’s a lack of guidance counselors that are directing impoverished students toward college, lack of family support. If you’re a first-generation college student you don’t really have someone to lean back on, not only for financial assistance, but general guidance, you know, what is it that I need to do to survive and get into college.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(110)
Learn about KIPP schools, NCLB, other charter schools, school reform movements in various places, the achievement gap, and funding disparities. Look at how poor students are doing in their local communities. They should also learn about after school programs and their potential forming a bridge between schools and families.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(111)
We have this myth that we provide the same level of public education, we have free public education in this country therefore everyone has the same opportunity to get a good education and that’s a total myth. Schools are generally funded based on (at least in FL) the property tax in a county. People who live in low-income counties generally don’t have as much income therefore they don’t own as much valuable property, don’t pay as much property taxes, therefore county has less to spend on schools. So the poorer the area you live in the poorer your school is going to be in terms of financial resources and frequently that translates into a lower quality of education. Don’t have big computer labs, people not going to take fun and exciting field trips, no special programs for children who are developmentally delayed or for kids who are really gifted. The poorer your county is the less likely you are to go to a school that is going to do the best possible job of preparing you to go to college. There is a strong correlation b/t completion of college and income.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(112)
Definitely a factor. I think that’s a very strong. When you see the drop out rate, even though the percentage is shocking here in Athens Clarke County. We have 66% of our high school students drop out before they graduate. Maybe about 77% of those are African Americans. So race plays a significant factor in the education. But when I talked with a social worker, she has 200 students in her teens at risk of dropping out, she says she has just as many from well-to-do families that aren’t making it as from families in poverty. So, you know, it’s hard to tell. Her strongest statement to me was that it was in kindergarten when they start dropping out, when the parents didn’t take the children on a regular basis to kindergarten. That’s when they first got into the habit that school and education aren’t important. That’s where we need to do something. Policy isn’t easy. It’s too convoluted. Kindergarten isn’t required, even though studies show that is where children start getting ingrained, start showing that those kids who aren’t taking kindergarten are statistically the ones dropping out of high school. People say where are the money and resources coming from? Families say that I have two jobs and can’t take her and the bus doesn’t run 2 ways. Looking at transportation issues, etc. If I could say anything for journalists it’s that they need to understand how complicated and intertwined the relationship among all these things is and to sort them out and to be able to write about it. It’s not simple at all.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(113)
What’s the correlation? What’s being done to give poor people skills & education that will raise their incomes? Is there an incentive for local employers to keep their workers unskilled and poorly paid? How do day labor places use poor people & immigrants?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(114)
Again, the extent to which they’re linked. Everyone sort of assumes there is a corollary between poor areas and bad schools; Interesting to see if that really exists. And if it does it would also be interesting to find out, I know that in a lot of areas b/c of influx of Latin immigrants, some of the poorest areas are getting pretty ambitious programs for immigrants, b/c it’s really challenging for some teachers to be working with a population of ESL speakers. I think some of our more talented people are going to work in poorer areas where there is a lot of Latin immigration. It would be interesting to see to what extent poverty is linked to bad education to what extent some schools have been able to rise above that.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser
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(115)
I think poverty can cause people to cut short their education because they feel they need to drop out of school and go to work. On a deeper level, poverty can sap the motivation of people. For every one person that says the way to get out of the housing projects and move from blue to white collar is education, there are some people who’s poverty discourages them from seeing that b/c the short term gain of going to work or participating in black market economy has more allure. They need the money right there. A friend of mine who’s a lawyer once told me that what sets middle class people apart from lower class people is that middle class people are better at deferring gratification. If you are middle class and have better financial cushion you are better able to say ok, it’s gonna take me X number of years to attain this goal but I can do it. I can put off the big reward b/c I know if I work/study, I will eventually get ahead, whereas the pressures of having a very low income and little wealth is that sometimes it makes you unable to defer gratification. It’s like, I’ve got this immediate need that I need to fix by any means possible.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(116)
In community after community across the country, the poorest places have the worst public school systems. The single biggest line-item expenditure in every municipality’s annual budget is public education. The single biggest source of revenue in every municipality’s annual budget is the property tax. Thus, the standard formula for publicly financed education sets up a Catch-22 sort of problem: The weaker and more burdened the community’s tax base, the less able it is to afford good public schools. In most cities and towns, there always exists a damaging and unproductive tension between the need for more money for education and the community’s willingness to accept greater tax burdens in order to provide it.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(117)
What a difference it makes for a student to go full time to school and have to work in the kitchen of a restaurant to pay the bills, rather than devote his or her energies to school work. A student with such a burden will chance exhaustion and depression and will not be able to join in activities that would further the pursuit of a career, like the debating team or the school newspaper. Employers see the high grades and achievement in the extra-curricular activities on a resume of the student who can dedicate full time to the pursuit of a career, and will show no interest in how many dishes were washed by the impoverished student with the same ability.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#9 What measures or indicators of poverty would you encourage journalists to regularly follow?

(118)
Food stamps, homeless shelters, food banks, unemployment
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(119)
I think you probably need to get a sense for the value of housing in the community, obviously if it’s quite low that would suggest some type of distressed housing. You’d want to get a sense for the level of hunger in a community, level of employment in a community. Obviously if the level of unemployment is high that is going to indicate that people are lacking opportunities. The crime rate is important. If an area is bedeviled by high crime that is obviously going to downgrade the quality of life in a particular community. You could look at other indicators such as the amount of mortgage money that goes into a particular community. That goes to my point earlier about red-lining. Companies that don’t see an opportunity to make money in a community will avoid it. That further leads to the downward spiral of poverty in a community.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(120)
See Rebecca Blank’s latest article (check Brookings or the National Poverty Center) on measuring poverty. It will help to make judgments about the inadequacies of our official measurement. See Amartya Sen on capabilities for a philosophical challenge to strictly income measurements of poverty.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(121)
Unemployment, income gap (ratio of people at very top of income chain to those at very bottom. What percentage of people who control top 10 percent of wealth and percentage of people at the bottom), drop out rates.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(122)
Pawn shops and moving. If I was a journalist in Athens I’d try to track how many people move in and out of various low-income housing b/c when they can’t pay they move somewhere else. I would look at the homeless figures. I would look at the food bank, b/c the food bank is the first thing hit when they lose the first month, before they go into homelessness and before they do other things. I would monitor whether the food bank is getting more requests, what is happening there. I would look at numbers of people applying for part-time jobs. Has that increased for city jobs where they think they can get benefits. Whereas the last job posting got 20 applications, this month we got 150.

(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(123)
Poverty rates and trends, wages rates & employment trends by industry, how they compare to other communities with similar size and economic structure. How are people made to feel if they use Food Stamps? Is there a stigma for this and other services? Are there any dentists in town who will serve poor people through Medicare? If so, what do people do for dental care – or if they do without, how does that affect them? What treatment services are available – if any – for poor people who are chemically dependent?

(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(124)
Wages obviously. Difference in buying power compared to how it was in the past. Gap between rich and poor, somehow measure to what extent poor people are unable to get basic services such as healthcare. Find a way to measure how much healthcare they’re actually getting. How many times are they getting to go to the dentist? How many times are they getting their kids to wellness checkups? I also think malnutrition and food bank stuff.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(125)
Well, the ones that I’m interested in are sometime I guess hard to measure b/c I’m thinking of a lot of the health outcomes. We routinely look at percentage of pop that’s uninsured, who is under-insured as well as un-insured. There are many employer linked insurance programs that are pretty worthless, that don’t cost much but don’t cover much. Putting people one medical emergency away from real catastrophe and bankruptcy. Those rates are one of the things that I would def. be interested in. I don’t think journalists pay enough attn. to streetscapes, to who’s walking around the street at 10 a.m. on a Wed. I see a lot of working age people on my way to work, who are just kind of hanging out. I can’t help but think that most of the people wouldn’t be hanging out if we had a better job market. Watch people in grocery stores. I think you can learn a lot. You can tell a lot about poverty in old people there. Major coupon shoppers. Will argue with checkout person about specials.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(126)
Annual retail sales figures.
Annual housing starts.
Growth in the trade deficit.
Fuel prices.
Credit card debt.

(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(127)
Statistics may tell the story but pictures would be much better. The country is still haunted by pictures of the Great Depression that showed breadlines or men lined up for blocks to apply for a few available jobs; and the movie, The Grapes of Wrath. Pictures of soup kitchens, homeless people sleeping in the parks, and the unemployment benefits line would remove any doubt left by the statistics.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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9. What should journalists know about non-profit organizations that help the poor in their community?

(128)
They should know who they are and talk with them regularly to find out not only ongoing problems but also new problems that arise from changes in the economy, policy, or institutions that deal with the poor.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Carol Polsgrove

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(129)
Again, everything. Usual non-profits that would be good sources are churches and charities, like Salvation Army, The Red Cross, and Catholic Charities.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(130)
They should know the ones that exist. They should understand what a non-profit attempts to do. They should understand the limitations of a non-profit. A lot of non-profit organizations aren’t terribly well-funded. They can’t solve all of the problems. They can’t create a sense of sustainability in a community. I think they need to understand what the focus of a non-profit organization is. Is it there to fight crime, is it there to improve quality of housing, is it there to improve level of education in a community? So I think it would be important for a journalist to visit the web site if they have one or look at a brochure or drop by and speak to someone in authority at a particular non-profit to get a sense of what their mission is and what it is they can and can’t do in a community.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(131)
See what community action programs and the community economic development movements are doing. See William Simon’s book on the CED movement and the National Community Action Foundation website in Washington, DC.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(132)
That they can’t do everything. What they should know is that we as a country don’t make enough charitable contributions for non-governmental organizations to take care of the poverty problem. There are a lot of great organizations doing wonderful work. Obviously journalists need to know that a lot of non-profit agency spend a much higher percentage on administrative costs and a much lower percentage of donations go to actual services. Habitat for Humanity, problem that has reduced the usefulness of Habitat to low-income families. There are much more stringent requirements apparently, on people’s ability to contribute and pay back. But I would say the main thing is that charities can’t do it all and we’re silly if we think they can.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(133)
Leara Rhodes
That there are places to check to see if they are giving all their monies, versus using a lot of their monies to pay their own expenses and their own salaries. That’s one of the concerns I’ve always had about United Way. There are sites that can tell you that.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(134)
How much do they spend, how many people do they serve and what do they accomplish? How do their practices and results compare to really exemplary non-profits? Always talk to the people they serve – what do they think?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(135)
Where they are and what they do. I think a lot of journalists are unaware of those or don’t think to talk to them b/c they’re not on their official source list. I think journalists should be aware that for every single issue out there, there is some sort of non-profit that is collecting stats and case studies and anecdotes that they are thrilled to share with journalists b/c they are trying to get info out.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(136)
I don’t think journalists pay enough attn to 211 agencies. Here in Athens the group is called community connections. What these are is places to call when you really really need social services help. Whether domestic violence or food pantry or roof over head for the night. If I were looking for unobtrusive measures of poverty I’d get to know my 211 agency really well. Number and type of calls they receive would be good metric for figuring out what’s going on. There are a lot of non-profit agencies engaged with poverty in Athens, there are fewer in a lot of rural areas. I think community based charities are mal-distributed; they don’t necessarily thrive in areas with worst poverty, just like healthcare. They go where the rich people are. Need is scattered all around. I’d be interested in knowing how good the match is between available philanthropic areas and the need, esp. in smaller communities.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(137)
Much of the community-level work done in behalf of the poor is done by churches and synagogues and the Salvation Army. More often than not these groups run the soup kitchens and homeless shelters and take on the role of day-to-day advocates for the poor.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(138)
Charities get a bad rap because of the few that cheat. They may use telemarketers to solicit funds and have a huge overhead of high salaries, leaving little for the charities to benefit people. Journalist should know that this is no reflection on the American Red Cross, The United Way, or the Salvation Army who are called upon by the public in times of emergencies.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#10 What key statistics should journalists be aware of?

(139)
Percent of families below the federal poverty line (and what is the federal poverty line), percent of children in that group, drop-out rates in high schools, percent of homeless and on food stamps-same as number 9.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(140)
Income levels, crime levels, education levels, if there is a way to determine distress from non-distressed property. Are they living in sub=standard housing. I think it’s important. For them to understand the level of hunger in the community. I think the USDA might keep statistics on that.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(141)
They should know about health statistics, e.g. infant death, early death, low-birth weight, etc, as well as about various measures of he educational achievement gap, functional literacy in the United Nations Human Development Report, and, of course, about the Census Bureau official poverty rate.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(142)
Comparison between cost of living in their areas and what one can reasonably earn from a minimum wage job. Another key statistic is cost of housing. What does an average home cost? Renting a property? How does that compare to the average wage and especially how does it compare to minimum wage. State per pupil expenditures on education. Percentages of health care professionals in the area who will accept Medicaid assignment. We make the assumption that all doctors will agree to take Medicaid patients and that is not true. Particularly in the areas like obstetrics and gynecology, there are lots and lots of doctors who will not accept Medicaid. Another huge one, the location of good grocery stores. What’s the average distance between a home in the low-income part of your community and a real grocery store that provides good quality fresh produce at a reasonable cost?
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(143)
I think some of the things we just mentioned: people moving into the community, number of jobs available, unemployment statistics, employment statistics, underemployed, wages, cost of basic commodities, things that people live on (flour, milk, cereal, gasoline, transportation costs, new bus increases). I think they need to talk to the people. I did two community maps, one for Latinos and one for African Americans. The issues we looked at the strata of income from upper government and university professors down to the person on the street in these communities. The leaders as well as community members. They all came out with the same issue, that is never covered in media, and that is transportation. That’s the major concern. The second major concern is affordable housing. We don’t talk about affordable housing in the ABH. We don’t talk about transportation unless we’ve got the new bus terminal. Transportation is a major major issue. Healthcare, major issue, affordable housing, education.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(144)
Poverty rates and trends, wages rates & employment trends by industry, how they compare to other communities with similar size and economic structure.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(145)
Real earning power; minimum wage (how much it has risen, when the last increase was); underemployment
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser

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(146)
There are the usual ones, the unemployment rates, economic growth of communities, tax base, the uncompensated care in emergency rooms, number of students on free or reduced lunch, a whole array of economic indicators, defaults on mortgages you have to say in recent times.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(147)
State and federal unemployment figures.
Any statistics indicating changes in income levels, population growth or shrinkage, changes in population of school-age children, new-home construction, changes in poverty-level populations. The quickest way to attain a federal statistics breakdown for any community is to pull a fact sheet from this U.S. Census Bureau web site: www.factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en And this one: quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/09000.html

(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(148)
One source for local stories is the U.S. Census Bureau. A reporter can find the statistics about income and poverty in the local area and perhaps compare it with similar cities or towns. The FBI crime statistics coupled with an analysis of the specific crimes in the local area could be examined for causes. What is the education and income level of local criminals? What are solutions suggested by town officials and academic authorities?
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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#11 Where should journalists seek story ideas and resources in their small towns?

(149)
From local government agencies and nonprofit groups that work with the poor; from teachers, medical professionals, religious leaders, librarians.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Carol Polsgrove

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(150)
Look at the streets. Go to the churches, schools and charities. Check the census for zip codes that show highest areas of poverty. Be aware that poverty is not always concentrated in inner cities. Be aware of new immigrants and refugees, who are often poor. Check on English-as-a-second-language programs-many without good English will be struggling with poverty.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Charlotte Grimes

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(151)
Church, get to know the clergy in the community. I would imagine in smaller communities they would have someone responsible for health education welfare of the community. Keep an eye on crime statistics at PD. Some of the non-profit organizations might provide stuff on that as well.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Ed Lawler

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(152)
They should examine how national policies impinge on the health, education, and labor markets in their towns. They should learn about transportation problems for to poor and look carefully at how their healthcare and educational institutions and labor markets do or do not serve the poor. They should also consider homeless shelters and food banks, but they should get beyond these typical stories to examine the structural issues with labor market, schools, after school programs, and healthcare.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Harlan Beckley

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(153)
They can talk to non-profits, teachers (If they talk to particularly elementary teachers a lot of those people know horrifying things about what their students are dealing with.) I think the main thing is to get beyond the official sources. Go talk to people at the barber shops, beauty salons, go talk to people who run the convenience stores. They’re the ones who know the people who are coming in. Talk to people who are running the food banks. Talk to people at the homeless shelter. IN some cases there are churches, where some of them are quite involved and know a lot about what is going on in terms of poverty in their communities.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Kim Walsh Childers

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(154)
From the people. What do people want to know? From that you can start putting together stories. What I learned from the mapping was that there are a lot of well-to-do Latino business people in Athens. Then ABH was very annoyed that the Latino business people didn’t buy into Eco-Latino, a biweekly issue for Latinos, mostly social things. The business people wouldn’t buy into so they closed it. Then Brutus opened up Calientitos down on Lumpkin. He doesn’t advertise in any kind of media at all. Have you ever tried to get in there at lunch? You can’t. How can a culture that relies strictly on word-of-mouth buy into advertising in traditional media forms? They have to be educated into what can, I mean, it’s not hurting his business. So are there other ways in which you can build that business. I think journalists need to be creative with that. If that isn’t what he needs then you need to get to know him and see if there is anything else that could get the Latinos to advertise.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Leara Rhodes

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(155)
In poor communities, schools & churches, medical clinics serving the poor, Legal Aid, police department, street-level community leaders.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Lynda McDonnell

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(156)
I would say again find a non-profit group. Once you find them, if they are partisan you can’t take their side but you can use them for resources. Be aware of communities. Go to the areas where poor people are, hang out where they are. Hang out in the Latin district of their communities, restaurants that serve Latin Americans, schools and kids that come in that obviously come from poor families. There are a lot of kids who don’t have their resources to do their homework at night.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Nancy Nusser
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(157)
I think from everything I’ve said, I think the bottom line is to use your powers of observation in a community. You can’t be a reporter in a small town by sitting behind a desk. You can’t be a good reporter in a small community by only writing about the power structure, like people at city hall. Poor people in most communities are disenfranchised in their communities. In a town like Athens, very few people in Athens stop to think that it’s a majority minority town. There are more black people than white, yet the power structure, the people in charge, are the white people who hold the major elected offices in town. Reporters have to not go to the usual suspects all the time. You cannot just keep going back to the same cards in your rolodex or the same numbers in your PDA. Churches are potentially great places to pick up stories, and public parks, classes offered at the library. Library enormous source of stories. Where people without computers go to use computers.
(Excerpt from recorded interview.)
Pat Thomas

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(158)
See the answer to question number 10.
All municipalities house senior centers and social service agencies of one kind or another, often under the heading of health and human services.
Also, each of the states has agencies that deal with social welfare under one rubric or another. Connecticut, for example, has the Department of Children and Families, Commission on Child Protection, Office of the Child Advocate, Office of Health Care Access, Office of the Healthcare Advocate – all in addition to the Department of Social Services. Personnel in those offices should be able to help a reporter identify problems and service areas peculiar to their small cities and towns.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
Wayne Worcester

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(159)
William Gaines
A small town resident no longer awaits the arrival of a bookmobile or the Sears catalogue. Residents enjoy the benefits of cable TV and the Internet. They will be available to broaden the local story by researching the Internet. Journalists are warned that they should rely only on government or educational web sites that are identified by .gov and .edu on the URL line. The minutes of the town board or the county board may contain discussion of poverty programs and more so the local school district minutes. From that start, a local reporter might be able to learn of a family that could be featured about their misfortune. They would have to agree to the interviews or the reporter’s efforts would be construed as an invasion of privacy. It might be acceptable to not name the family, which would not distract from the impact of the story in such circumstances.
(Excerpt from e-mail response.)
William Gaines

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