my challenge

doran-tenderloinThe media often ignore low-income communities, stripping them of what journalism offers other sectors of American society: a public mirror in which to observe themselves and be seen by others, a chronicle of their history, and a civic watchdog and advocate. These communities need more media coverage — more in volume, quality, consistency, variety, and empathy. And the larger public needs a greater understanding of daily life nearer the southern end of the economic ladder, of how full of vitality it often is, and also how challenging it can be; it needs to understand its connections to those communities, and realize the under-appreciated strengths and resources contained therein.

My challenge is twofold.  First, to work with the local talents in underserved and lower-income communities to create cost-effective, sustainable sources of local media coverage that resonates with residents.  Second, to also develop a method to upload that news to larger media outlets, in order to better connect those overlooked communities to their neighbors.

One of journalism’s signal obligations is to hold up a mirror to society and to shine a light on those areas most hidden; it is to make sure journalism happens where it is needed. To make sure that happens more effectively and consistently in low-income communities would meet that obligation in a way it is rarely met now. It would strengthen the bond between journalists and tens of millions of people, by demonstrating that the media cares about people who are poor; and, as a result, it would broaden and deepen our influence as a force for change.

I welcome input about media coverage of low-income, underserved communities at jahay@stanford.edu.