Covering Suburban Poverty Conference
Journalists from across the nation converged on the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University last fall for a McCormick/Poynter Special Reporting Institute on covering the growing crisis of suburban poverty.
The seminar brought together some of the country’s leading economists, sociologists, advocacy group leaders, government officials, and working journalists for a dozen sessions aimed at helping reporters produce smart, well- informed stories.
Participating journalists, most of whom cover social and poverty-related issues as part of their local beats, included reporters, editors, and producers from media outlets such as NBC News, Newsday (Long Island, NY), The Baltimore Sun, WBEZ Chicago Public Media, The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Associated Press.
Session speakers included NPR national reporter Pam Fessler, sociologist Scott Allard of the University of Chicago and Brookings Institution, Trudi Renwick, who oversees poverty data for the Census Bureau, and Gary Rivlin, author of Broke USA, who recently wrote for the New York Times Sunday Magazine about how to get rich in the trailer park business.
Here, a sample of some of the eye-opening stories filed by participants who reported from towns across America in the days and months after the conference:
Associated Press national reporter Martha Mendoza: “After the conference, I pitched a series of ideas generated there to my editors including [one on a Silicon Valley slum], which has finally come to fruition. I can’t imagine I would have launched this if I hadn’t spent those days at Hofstra learning more about the issues and trying to think really big.”
Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University: “Hofstra and our funders always hoped that this conference would pay dividends long after it was held – a success for the professional journalists and students who attended it, for their readers and viewers, and especially for the increasing number of poor and minority people struggling in suburban communities. A result of the conference the latter are no longer as invisible and voiceless."