Citizens or Objects: A Case Study in News Coverage of Poverty


There exists in the minds of American newspaper journalists a group called the "general audience," and it is this group that journalists believe they serve by covering the news. The general audience ostensibly includes all citizens - the assumption being that all citizens are politically equal and are, therefore, served by a common understanding of the news created by a standardized reporting and writing process. But the needs of poor and working class are largely left out of the news because journalists see the utility of journalism in middle class terms and treat the poor as objects of reporting rather than as citizens. This essay explores the case of the Springfield News‐Leader, a daily newspaper in the Gannett chain, serving Springfield, Missouri - a small city in the southwest corner of the state - for the purpose of discovering what opportunities exist as a part of normal news coverage to serve the poor and working class.


Media, Journalism, and Film

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Poverty & Public Policy