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Missing in Campaigns, Media: the Poor

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poverty Issue "Nearly Invisible" in Election Coverage

Latinos Author Only 1/2 of 1% of Big-Paper Op-Eds

Pundits Mixed on Obama's Convention Speech

BET's Lee Says GOP "Pandered" to Blacks, Women

Bill Clinton's Role Seen as Shoring Up Whites

At Key Points, Spanish Networks Aired Novelas

Jeremy Lin Stars in Impromptu "60 Minutes" Short

Coverage of Native Americans Steeped in Stereotypes

Short Takes

"Shoes tell the story of the McKee family's descent into poverty," the Children's Defense Fund said in introducing a 2010 report by journalist Julia Cass from Dowagiac, Mich. "Those of Skyler, 10, [in left photo] and Zachery, 12,[at right] are falling apart. Their sister, Jordan, 14, wears the varsity coach’s shoes when she plays on her school's volleyball team." Cass spent time with poor children in Quitman County, Miss., Katrina-displaced children in Baton Rouge, La., and children of the newly poor in Long Island, N.Y. (Credit: Children's Defense Fund)

Poverty Issue "Nearly Invisible" in Election Coverage

" 'Middle Class First,' said the placards on display as Bill Clinton addressed the Democratic convention. And indeed, speaker after speaker has invoked the party's devotion to the lot of middle-class Americans in 2012," David Crary reported Friday for the Associated Press. "The rich also have featured in the rhetoric, albeit as a punching bag.

"But the poor? Not so much. They've been mentioned only fleetingly.

"The discrepancy makes sense for President Barack Obama's strategy. A large majority of Americans identify themselves as middle class, while the poor lack political clout for a host of reasons. Yet for a party long known for its role as defender of the downtrodden, the rhetorical patterns are striking. . . ."

As for the Republicans, Thomas B. Edsall wrote recently in the New York Times that rather than ignoring poor people of color, the GOP is casting them as the enemy. "The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor," Edsall wrote.

These stories coincide with a new report by Mariana Garces and Steve Rendall of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, "Media Not Concerned About the Very Poor: Study finds poverty not an issue in most election coverage."

". . . Poverty as an issue is nearly invisible in U.S. media coverage of the 2012 election, a new FAIR study has found — even though what candidates plan to do about an alarmingly growing poverty rate would seem to be a ripe topic for discussion in campaign coverage," Garces and Rendall wrote for the September issue of FAIR's "Extra!"

"Even before the economic downturn made the poverty picture significantly worse in the United States, the Urban Institute reported that half of all Americans (51 percent) experience poverty at some time before age 65 (Urban Institute, 9/10/09)."

". . . To see how this crisis is addressed in coverage of the 2012 presidential election, Extra! looked at six months of campaign coverage (1/1/12–6/23/12) by eight prominent news outlets: CBS Evening News, ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, PBS NewsHour and NPR's All Things Considered, and the print editions of the New York Times, Washington Post and Newsweek.

". . . Despite its widely experienced impact, FAIR's study found poverty barely registers as a campaign issue. Just 17 of the 10,489 campaign stories studied (0.2 percent) addressed poverty in a substantive way. Moreover, none of the eight outlets included a substantive discussion of poverty in as much as 1 percent of its campaign stories.

"Discussions of poverty in campaign coverage were so rare that PBS NewsHour had the highest percentage of its campaign stories addressing poverty — with a single story, 0.8 percent of its total. ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, NPR's All Things Considered, and Newsweek ran no campaign stories substantively discussing poverty.

". . . Previous FAIR reports and Extra! articles (7–8/06, 9–10/07) have discussed reasons journalists find the subject of poverty unappealing: 'For one, journalists like a story to have a resolution, preferably a happy one' — unlike poverty, which they see as 'a sad, intractable fact of life, a story that never gets better and generates little interest or news.' Perhaps more importantly, advertisers aren't fond of poverty stories, which don't provide a good media environment for their commercials. . . ."

Jose Lopez, right, a New York Times photo editor, works with Josh Morgan, a stud

Latinos Author Only 1/2 of 1% of Big-Paper Op-Eds

"Since 1990, the Latino population in the United States has more than doubled to 16 percent, but English-language U.S. news media outlets are simply not keeping up," Julie Hollar wrote for the September edition of Extra!, a publication of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. "While people of color and women have always been underrepresented in U.S. media, Latinos consistently stand out — in the coverage as well as inside the newsroom — for their exceptionally paltry numbers relative to their population size.

"In Extra!'s recent study of the opinion pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal (4/12), Latinos were granted less than half a percent of the op-ed bylines over the two-month study period — writing two columns in the Times, one in the Wall Street Journal, and none in the Post. None of these papers has a Latino among their staff columnists.

"In more than a year of political book interviews on [C-SPAN's] After Words and reviews in the New York Times Book Review (Extra!, 8/10), not a single U.S. Latino appeared among the 432 authors, reviewers and interviewers.

". . . Even when the coverage directly involves and impacts Latinos, their voices are scarce. In a year's worth of cable coverage of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio — who was recently sued by the Justice Department for unlawful discrimination against Latinos — those actually targeted by his policies were included in the conversation only two out of 21 times (Extra!, 6/09)."

". . . As companies like Fox and NBC begin to target Latino audiences with special channels and websites (see 'Latinos in New Media,' Extra!, 9/12), will those audiences feel better served, or just ghettoized and exploited? And will that provide just one more excuse for those outlets to continue to marginalize Latino sources and reporters in their other news? . . ."

President Obama and members of his family after he accepted the Democ

Pundits Mixed on Obama's Convention Speech

"Pundits had a mixed reaction to President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night," Katherine Fung reported Friday for the Huffington Post. "Overall, the rapturous reception given to Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton was left at the media doorstep.

"Most agreed that, rhetorically, Obama delivered a solid speech, saying that it was typical of the president's strong oratorical skills. Not surprisingly, MSNBC was home to some of the most glowing commentary. Chris Matthews remarked that Obama 'did it again' and delivered 'a home run speech.' Al Sharpton said the address was 'epic,' and speculated that 'Barack Obama won the election tonight.' Rachel Maddow called it a 'big, big speech.'

". . . At CNN, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer labeled the address a 'hit and a miss.' He criticized Obama for giving what he said was the 'same old... same speech' that he said contained 'many of the promises' from four years ago. . . ."

Meanwhile, the president's speech "fueled a outpouring of tweets," Cory Bergman wrote Thursday for "Twitter called it a 'record political moment,' adding that Obama's next two biggest spikes (43,646 and 39,002) surpassed Romney's peak at 14,239," referring to Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate. "In all, 9 million tweets about the DNC this week were sent by the conclusion of the president's speech."

BET's Lee Says GOP "Pandered" to Blacks, Women

Debra Lee"The Republican Party may have featured women like Ann Romney and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in prime slots at its convention in Tampa last week, but that was just 'pandering' and 'disingenuous,' according to Debra L. Lee, chairwoman and CEO of BET Networks," Katie Glueck reported from Charlotte, N.C., Thursday for Politico.

" 'They're pandering,' she said on a POLITICO LIVE show filmed here. 'That's the word that comes to mind.'

" 'I thought some of what went on at the RNC was very disingenuous,' she added. 'Ann Romney has to [give a] shout-out to women? We're over 50 percent of the population. We need a shout-out? It was the craziest-looking thing.'

"Lee said it was 'nice' that Rice sat next to Mitt Romney at the GOP convention, 'but does the RNC really embrace African-Americans, really embrace women?' "

Bill Clinton's Role Seen as Shoring Up Whites

"Wednesday night, reporter John Frank tweeted that North Carolina delegates to the Democratic National Convention were sharing high-fives after former President Bill Clinton's epic 45-minute address," Chris Kromm wrote Thursday for the Institute for Southern Studies.

"No surprise there: Clinton's tour-de-force was a huge hit with Democrats of all flavors in Charlotte and nationally.

"But the speech also had a specific goal: to help sell President Obama and the Democratic brand to whites — including Southern whites — who have been an increasingly challenging demographic for the party.

"A pre-convention Gallup poll found Bill Clinton has a 63 percent approval rating among whites, compared to just 43 percent for Barack Obama. And as Richard Harpootlian, a Democrat from South Carolina told the Associated Press, '[Clinton] resonates with Southern white folks dramatically . . .' "

Michael Oreskes wrote Wednesday for the Associated Press: "The numbers tell a story. President Obama was viewed favorably by 43 percent of white men in an AP-GfK poll last month. It is a key reason this race is so close. Overall, [Mitt] Romney beat Obama 54 to 39 percent among white voters in that poll." As for Clinton, "12 years out of office, he is viewed favorably by 63 percent of white men, according to a Gallup Poll in July."

At Key Points, Spanish Networks Aired Novelas

A Journal-isms reader messaged Wednesday, "Would love to see you write and ask why the largest Spanish-language networks in the country, time after time, continue to take Spanish-speaking viewers for granted. Tonight the first undocumented immigrant to speak in a political convention took the stage... Last night the first Latino to address a DNC.... but you wouldn't know if you are watching Univision or Telemundo playing novelas instead... Yet complaining anchors like Jorge Ramos are asking for a Presidential debate and Latino journalist inclusion?

Journal-isms posed the question to Univision and Telemundo on Thursday.

Monica Talan, a Univision spokeswoman replied by email, "We have offered comprehensive coverage, here is a link to the release with our plans, which included airing both acceptance speeches.

Alfredo Richard, a spokesman for Telemundo, said by email, "All I can tell you is we have been covering and reporting from both the RNC and DNC on the ground every day. Jose Diaz Balart and the Telemundo News team, working closely with NBC News, [have] been covering in detail all aspects of the conventions throughout the whole day starting with our morning show Un Nuevo Dia, our news magazine Al Rojo Vivo and broadcasting our Noticiero directly from Tampa and Charlotte. In addition, tonight, just like with [GOP candidate Mitt] Romney, we're presenting a recap and highlights of the speech at 11:30pm ET and mun2, our young Latinos cable network, carried both acceptance speeches."

Isabel Bucaram, a spokeswoman for CNN en Español, said her network did broadcast the Republican and Democratic convention speeches with simultaneous translations.

Jeremy Lin Stars in Impromptu "60 Minutes" Short

Jeremy Lin, 'the big get' for the Houston Rockets in the offseason after a contract dispute forced him to leave the New York Knicks, was in Taiwan for a four-day summer camp. The point guard trained more than 100 young basketballers. "While in Taipei reporting a 60 Minutes story on Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin, CBS producer Pete Radovich found himself with some downtime and an idea for a short film," the CBS "60 Minutes Overtime" staff wrote on Thursday, posting a video.

"So Pete teamed up with Lin and Golden State [Warriors] forward David Lee to make this flick. It's about Lin and Lee making a late-night escape from the press and paparazzi, in pursuit of a real-life pick-up ball game on Taipei's Xingsheng courts.

"The first part of the film is scripted and acted as Lin, going stir-crazy in his hotel room, dons a disguise to sneak by the press camped out in the hotel lobby. As the pro players head to the local courts, the action is real. There's no script here, just five cameras lying in wait, not visible to any of the Xingsheng players, who are still unaware of the surprise guests headed their way.

". . . Our 60 Minutes profile on Jeremy Lin will air later this fall. Charlie Rose is the correspondent and Pete Radovich, creative director of CBS Sports, is the producer."

Coverage of Native Americans Steeped in Stereotypes

"Other than stories about poverty and crime on reservations, mainstream media coverage of Native Americans and issues they confront is often steeped in stereotypes that portray Indians as lawless and living in the distant past," Joshunda Sanders wrote Aug. 30 for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

"While large media outlets such as The New York Times and The Associated Press sometimes have the resources to research and produce comprehensive stories, Native Americans must rely largely on tribal newspapers and alternative outlets for content about themselves and their communities.

"Mary Hudetz, a member of the Crow Tribe of Montana, an AP editor in Phoenix and a board member of the Native American Journalists Association, says lack of time and resources at media outlets contribute to fewer stories about Natives. In particular, she cites lack of reporting on how health care reform will impact them and lack of reporting in general, particularly in Indian Country and on reservations.

"Moreover, Hudetz says, the mainstream media largely handle tribal governments gently, in part because the open-government laws that allow reporters to hold entities accountable don't apply to sovereign tribal governments. . . . "

Columnist Delilah Beasley died in 1934.

Short Takes

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Missing in Campaigns (Cross-postings from the Root)

  mcleodglen Well if they can help middle class well enough, then let it be. The problem is, the middle class hasn't benefited either. montag The Campaign: Only for the Middle Class? Poor people have rediscovered invisibility. QuietThoughtsII Umm, it's simple, who is it that votes? Yeah, the middle class. P. Mimi Poinsett MD "@TheRoot247: The Campaign: Only for the Middle Class?  So the media FINALLY has noticed PoorIsAFourLette... Shante Paradigm “.@TheRoot247: The Campaign: Only for the Middle Class? seems that way. QuietThoughtsIIUmm, it's simple, who is it that votes? Yeah, the middle class. from therootMike Keister What is the "Middle Class" exactly? It isn't defined anywhere. we know what Poverty is. It is defined. We can surmise that $250,000 is well above the upper ceiling of the Middle Class, because whenever Democrats fire shots...and you don't fire within your own ranks...that's the target they aim for (eg; "if you are making less than $250,000 a year you will not see your taxes go up"). Five percent of households make more than 180,000, that's why they can safely use $250k.  In 2008, 40% of households made no more than $39,000. I would call this group, "no better than working poor". I don't consider $39k a lot of money for a household. Throw in another 20% of households and you have households making no more than $62,725. I don't consider $62K as being poor nor middle class...but that 20% would classify themselves as being middle class, because given the choice no one chooses poor.  This is poisonous to Democracy for both parties to collectively ignore between 40 and 60 percent of the households out there.BlakDr likes this. BlackTruth Black radio 24/7 is talking about how much the President needs the black vote to have his back, however where are the campaign schedule events in black community? Right in the heart of black folks talking about what he going to do for blacks?  He is talking to women about equal pay when we black men don't have jobs, as he sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He is talking to Gays about marriage while not pursuing in court the Defense of Marriage Act while canceling Don't Ask Don't Tell. He stopped illegal immigrants from being deported and sent home, however the 1968 Fair Housing Act were whites discriminated against blacks is being widely ignored as there not even a situation where all the subprime lending where most of the 54% of blacks that were sold subprime loans, while most of them qualified for Prime, FHA & VA loan but this administration has done nothing to even look into this crime.  Black cannot even talk about they is effecting them but are to blindly vote for Obama!  from theroot mcleodglen

Well if they can help middle class well enough, then let it be. The problem is, the middle class hasn't benefited either.

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