[Hpn] Homelessness in the Media

Teresa Lynn Heinz tlheinz@indiana.edu
Fri, 10 Nov 2000 17:04:56 -0500 (EST)

Antitra, Here's my two cents on the homelessness and the media topic.
Several years ago, I completed a study of the relationship between the
mainstream media and the British street paper, The Big Issue. My
responses are included after the questions below.
Teresa Heinz
> In which media, if any, do you feel that homeless people and homeless
> issues are covered accurately? 
I would say that the alternative media probably does the best job, in
that the articles are often more in-depth and look at the issues behind

> > Are they covered to the extent of their national
importance? > 
No--homelessness is often only covered by mainstream papers in the context
of crime, drugs, or other similar issues. Sometimes homelessness is
covered as a "sexy" topic, depending on the overallpolitical climate at
the time.

> What factors contribute to full and accurate coverage of homeless
> issues?
--better financial backing; better paper control free from corporate
interests; more time for in-depth reporting; reporters' being more
informed about issues behind homelessness;> 

> What factors interfere with that?
> The opposite to the issues I mentioned above.

> Are these factors the same as those that affect the coverage of any
> issue, or are there particular factors affecting the coverage of
> homeless issues?
I would say that homelessness, like other topics such as drugs and crime, 
is intersected by issues of race, class, and gender. Coverage is also
influenced by the reporters' personal encounters with homelessness. In my
study ofThe Big Issue, many reporters said they had more respect for
street vendors because they were "doing something" (their words). They
said this carried over into their reporting and their willingness to write
about the issue.

 > > What would more and better coverage of homeless issues look
--more indepth; different coverage of homelessness other than a policy or 
statistics issue. More attention to the language used to describe homeless
people; it often falls into stereotypes. 
> What would be the effects of more and better coverage of homeless
> issues?
--more education among readers about the issues behind homelessless. Also 
more awareness that anyone can be made homeless. Less of a separation
between "us" and "them."
> What aspects of the Internet make it easier to disseminate information
> about social issues?
> --can generate more global dialogue, but the Internet brings up thte
technology have and have-nots issue. I would suggest using the Internet as
a side-bar to a paper product.

> What factors of the internet make it harder?
>--technology have and have-nots. I suppose that public libraries help
fullfill public access needs, but to produce a publication, current
equipment is needed....and many non-profits and alternative media can't
afford it or the training.

 > ***
> I've asked as many questions as Tom Boland does! :)  Maybe we will all
> have similar answers on these questions.  Or maybe a discussion will
> give us some ideas for improving the media.
> In my own analysis of the social values that have changed in my
> lifetime, it seems to me that the media was a major factor in that
> change.
> Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
> "We can't help everyone.  We can't fix everything.  It hurts. 
>  But it is better to live with pain than to live without caring."
> _______________________________________________