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Why won’t some people pay for news?
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Sept. 18, 2018, noon

You may have heard — journalism has a bit of a class problem.

We’ll spare you the not-all-news-is-in-New-York and some-people-can’t-afford-banks soapboxes. (But if you want them, you know where to click.) Just think about the question Heather Bryant posed to the audience at one session during ONA’s conference on Saturday:

For every story you write or run, think about what is the version of this story for which this one is not relevant. So if you’re going to run a story about the newest iPhone, where is your story about cellular service or payment plans for low income individuals? If you’re going to run a story about how sitting all day is harmful for your health, where is your story about the number of people in your audience who are in physical pain because they work in an industry where they don’t allow it? If you’re going to do a story about high school graduation rates, where’s the one about how to navigate FAFSA and all its complexities? What’s the opposite story where the common stories just aren’t applicable or don’t match your circumstances?

Why does it matter to reach low-income individuals when your advertising base wants more lucrative eyeballs? If you’re asking that question, here’s some required reading before you proceed. One of the researchers featured in that Q&A, Stanford economist Jay Hamilton, joined Bryant, Outlier Media’s Sarah Alvarez who mass-texts local residents about housing records, and the Membership Puzzle Project’s Emily Goligoski joined forces to start discussing that problem. (Hamilton’s co-researcher, journalism consultant Fiona Morgan, was beaming from the audience.)

You can rewatch the full panel here or below.

In addition to writing this guide on covering people in poverty for Journalists’ Resource over at our neighborly Shorenstein Center, Bryant compiled a list of resources highlighted during the talk. And here’s what the panelists recommended for starting to address this problem (with some recommended reading along the way):

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