People in poverty challenge journalists to improve their reporting

By agency reporter
August 23, 2017

People with first-hand experience of poverty have produced a powerful new film, challenging journalists to improve the way they report on the issue.

The film includes stories from Frank, Letitia, Daniel, Alain, Sue, Stuart and Martin, all of whom have been in poverty. They tell their stories and speak of their frustrations at the way the issue is reported in the media. Young journalists at The Reporters’ Academy in Salford produced the film, with support from Church Action on Poverty and the local branch of the National Union of Journalists. 

Contributor Martin Green said, “I want to get across that this country is having problems with poverty, and the more people see that the better. I want more voices to be heard. The media coverage needs to change; it needs more voices.”

Daniel says in the film, “Poverty is portrayed in the media really, really negatively. There are stories about people who are trying to take from the system or sponge off the system and it doesn’t ever really talk about the root causes of poverty.”

Alain tells in the film of his struggles to find work since moving to England from Cameroon, while Letitia tells how her intended career plans suddenly had to change, and Sue tells of how it feels to be ‘pigeon-holed’ when you are in poverty.

The film was produced by people aged 16 to 24 from The Reporters’ Academy, a not-for-profit media production company based at Media City in Salford. Glyn McGuire, co-founder of the academy, said: “These young people were uniquely placed to benefit from and work on the project. They came from a variety of backgrounds with different life experiences, with half the team experiencing poverty as a result of not being in work, education or training, or being homeless.”

Gavin Aitchison, poverty media unit coordinator at Church Action on Poverty, said: “Too often, the media narrative around poverty is very damaging, as a result either of crass language and generalisations, or of editorial cuts hindering in-depth coverage. It’s important that people in poverty should be given the chance to tell their own powerful stories, and Church Action on Poverty is always happy to work with journalists interested in enabling that.”

Rachel Broady, equality officer at Manchester and Salford NUJ branch, said: “It’s clear many readers, viewers and listeners think the way poverty is reported needs to be challenged and that journalists need to reconsider what it is they’re contributing to.”

The film, and accompanying written guidelines, can be seen  here

* Church Action on Poverty www.church-poverty.org.uk

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