In the midst of extensive handwringing on the part of the mainstream media about their complicity in the rise of Donald Trump, NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff had one of the more thoughtful pieces yesterday acknowledging how out of touch the media is with the pain of working class Americans. http://tinyurl.com/h5aodbt
He wrote: “We failed to take Trump seriously because of a third media failing: We were largely oblivious to the pain among working-class Americans and thus didn’t appreciate how much his message resonated. ‘The media has been out of touch with these Americans,’ (former Today anchor Ann) Curry notes. Media elites rightly talk about our insufficient racial, ethnic and gender diversity, but we also lack economic diversity. We inhabit a middle-class world and don’t adequately cover the part of America that is struggling and seething. We spend too much time talking to senators, not enough to the jobless.”
If the media are out of touch with working class Americans, just imagine how much farther out of touch they are with the poorest of the poor, now a sizeable number in our country those who are most vulnerable and voiceless. 11% of American children are living in deep poverty. 45 million Americans have been stuck below the poverty line for three years in a row. 51% of our public school students now live in poverty. Neither the press not the candidates give voice to these issues with any consistency, if at all. Why? Probably for the same honest reason that Kristof gives for such excessive coverage of Trump. Ratings. Follow the dollar.
One again we see how those who are the most economically and politically marginalized have no markets to serve them, whether economic, political or media markets. This places even more of an obligation on nonprofits, advocates and philanthropy to do what is most important for them to do: be the voice for those whose voices are not being heard but desperately need to be. Many of them are children; they represent and will shape our collective future. We need to compensate for the failure of the candidates and the media to make child poverty the issue it should be.
As the author James Baldwin so eloquently wrote: “Remember, they are all our children and we shall either pay for or profit by whatever they become.”