…or maybe it just makes for bad news. The lack of reporting and way in which poverty and people in poverty are portrayed by mainstream media, most notably news programs, is outrageous. Which leads me to ask, why is an issue so prevalent throughout the world is given so little justice by the media.
A report done by FAIR showed that in the U.S., poverty is reported less than 0.02% of the time, in comparison science has 0.6%, education 1.2%, immigration 1.4%, business 4%and politics 16%. The report also showed that stories that featured the term “billionaire” had nearly a four to one ratio with poverty coverage.
The way in which some of the media portray poverty was brought to light recently though when Barack Obama criticised Fox News while giving a talk on poverty at Georgetown University. The president said:
“I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction. I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu. They will find folks who make me mad. I don’t even know where they find them. ‘I don’t want to work; I just want a free Obamaphone or whatever.’”
Jon Stewart further criticised Fox News on The Daily Show, showing Stuart Varney respond to the president’s speech, in which he says the president is “spinning his own policy failures…and blames us the ‘honest messengers’.” To which Stewart then shows a Montage of stories from Fox News calling the poor ‘lazy’ or ‘freeloaders’. Stewart then exclaims “How F**king removed from reality is Fox’s perception of their own coverage on poverty?”
Some of you may think its different here in Australia but it’s not. News programs like A Current Affair are constantly portraying the poor as doll bludgers who are bleeding the system. And in terms of the amount genuine reporting on poverty in Australia we are also not much better. Which shocked me at first but as I tried to think of news stories I’d seen the reality became clear, as the only stories I could think of were when ACOSS released the Poverty in Australia Report in 2012 and 2014, were we seemed to get huge waves of news but then after a while the news would go back to the same old spiel.