Author and activist Barbara Enhrenreich, whose Nickel and Dimed is a modern classic of poverty journalism, talks about the need to move beyond coverage of sad stories toward exposing the mechanisms through which poverty is produced and reproduced and the forces that accelerate decline once it begins.
Rural areas may be individually homogenous, but as a whole they are as diverse as the nation and poorer, at least statistically. We will talk about planning, traveling, sourcing, interviewing, listening and getting along in Appalachia, the Black Belt, Indian Country and more. Session is intended for journalists with rural experience that they can share and those who are short on it. One piece of advice for rural poverty reporting that may also apply to this session: Prepare to be surprised.
Zita Arocha, Paul Cuadros, Claudia Nunez
Panelists will explore how immigrants move into and out of poverty, the impact of the great recession on legal and illegal immigration flows from Mexico and the rest of Latin America, and ways to mine immigration data to develop story ideas.
The Low-Wage Workplace
Beth Macy, Michael Hudson
The injustices low-wage workers face: getting cheated out of overtime, forced to work “off the clock,” stuck with the most dangerous jobs, pressured to ignore health and safety regulations, endure sexual harassment or commit fraud. How to interview and write about people who are often marginalized and stereotyped—low-income students, immigrants, the elderly and all manner of outsiders and underdogs.
Michael Ollove, Linda Jue
Getting the low-down on city streets requires both the art of invisibility and an understanding of the bigger national picture. An exploration of how to work through the interpersonal tensions between an outsider and a community (in particular with students and the homeless), and a discussion of the editor’s perspective on how to shape a story that moves and engages.
Panel on Newscraft
Michael Fletcher, Pam Fessler, Beth Macy, Leon Dash, Norris West
How do you follow and report on the cascade of problems that too often bedevils the poor? What are some techniques for integrating poverty coverage into beats across the newsroom? How do you best localize national trends? We’ll discuss the skills needed in developing sources, bridging cultural gaps, earning the trust of story subjects and, finally, selling your ideas to your editors.
with Zita Arocha
with Linda Jue
In small groups, fellows will pitch their ideas for stories and projects to an editor and other participants. The group will help to shape the story and suggest sources, questions and angles to pursue.
The criminalization of poverty and its financial toll on the poor are highly under-reported areas. Governments collect hundreds of millions a year in fees and fines for infractions such as truancy, broken tail-lights, or even “messy
yards.” Unable to pay on time, low-income people incur ever larger expenses including court costs, interest, and even room-and-board for jail time—sending them into destitution. These charges have soared, adding to the burdens
of low wages and joblessness. We will share experiences in reporting on these issues, given the lack of centralized, national data.
The Business of Poverty
How to investigate businesses that target low-income Americans—from companies that helped spawn the financial crash (predatory lenders) to those that impact the daily lives of the poor (payday lenders, for-profit trade schools, debt collectors). We talk about uncovering fraud, digging up lawsuits, cultivating whistleblowers, reading financial documents and understanding the personal economics of poverty.
Most of us know poverty is bad for health. But we will dig deeper to enhance your understanding of the connections between the two realms as well as your skills for covering them. We will sharpen your eye for connections between health and wealth, establish easy ways to stay abreast of breaking stories at the national and state levels, find local angles that bring big stories home, use official data to strengthen stories, and explore strategies for producing election-year stories on the potential impact of campaign threats and promises.
Politics and the Poor
The Hill and the Cliff: We will explore the shredding of the social safety net on Capitol Hill, the “fiscal cliff,” and how news coverage can influence change. Questions to discuss include: What is the “fiscal cliff” and what does it mean for the safety net? What could the November elections mean for this funding? And, can reporting the effects of loss or squeezing of social programs change the debate? If so, how?
How I Did It: Stories from the Front Lines of Poverty Coverage
Leon Dash, Barbara Ehrenreich, Steven Gray, Paul Overberg, Bernice Young
Panelists offer up-close and personal details of their experiences covering poverty across the U.S. They tell us how they overcame obstacles, what worked and what didn’t in their own efforts, then open the floor for questions and wide-ranging discussion.
Skill Session One: Covering Non-profits
The day-to-day battle against poverty is often most visible in the work of nonprofit organizations. Too often, these groups don’t get the attention or scrutiny that they deserve – until there’s a scandal. In this hands-on session, you’ll learn how to research the nonprofits in your community, understand their reports on finances and governance, and ask smarter questions about their work.
Skill Session Two: Finding the Stories in Federal Data
Bring those national stories about poverty into your own backyard, and find out how local conditions mirror or diverge from the national stories and trends. This hands-on session will show you how to understand, download and analyze local and regional poverty data from the Census. You’ll also learn simple spreadsheet analysis to find patterns, and use data to brainstorm local poverty stories.
A Brief Intro to Online Resources
Diane Murray, Al Cross, Paul Cuadros, Karen Dolan, Kayla Welch
An introduction to some of the more notable websites and online resources for journalists covering poverty. Panelists will present a quick overview of the sites to which they contribute and manage, giving you a set of tools to take home and use right away.