1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Media and Poverty

Edited By Sandra L. Borden Copyright 2022
    504 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Comprehensive and interdisciplinary, this collection explores the complex, and often problematic, ways in which the news media shapes perceptions of poverty.

    Editor Sandra L. Borden and a diverse collection of scholars and journalists question exactly how the news media can reinforce (or undermine) poverty and privilege. This book is divided into five parts that examine philosophical principles for reporting on poverty, the history and nature of poverty coverage, problematic representations of people experiencing poverty, poverty coverage as part of reporting on public policy and positive possibilities for poverty coverage. Each section provides an introduction to the topic, as well as a broad selection of essays illuminating key issues and a Q&A with a relevant journalist. Topics covered include news coverage of corporate philanthropy, structural bias in reporting, representations of the working poor, the moral demands of vulnerability and agency, community empowerment and citizen media. The book’s broad focus considers media and poverty at both the local and global levels with contributors from 16 countries.

    This is an ideal reference for students and scholars of media, communication and journalism who are studying topics involving the media and social justice, as well as journalists, activists and policy makers working in these areas.


    Edward Wasserman

    Introduction: The Problem of Poverty in the News Media

    Sandra L. Borden

    Part I Principles: Ethical Frameworks for Covering Poverty

    1.      Communitarian Ethics and Poverty Coverage

    Clifford G. Christians

    2.      The Capability Approach and Media Coverage of Poverty

    Gottfried Schweiger

    3.      Extreme Poverty as Human Rights Violation: Moral Duties and Public Engagement in the Global North

    Vincent Fang

     4.      Precarious Photojournalism: The Ethics and Aesthetics of the Unrepresentable

    Sieglinde Lemke

     5.      Shared Vulnerability as a Virtuous Framework for Poverty Coverage

    Sandra L. Borden

     6.      Solidarity in U.S. Journalism: Social Justice Implications of How Journalists Humanize People Experiencing Homelessness

    Anita Varma

     7.      Social Empathy + Compassion: Building Blocks for Poverty Coverage

    Ryan Thomas

     8.      Reporting on the Margins But Not Marginalizing with Dustin Dwyer

    Dustin Dwyer and Sandra L. Borden


    Part II Poverty: Socioeconomic Need and Its Causes in the News

    9.      A Very Poor Watchdog: How the Political Economy Continues to Define News Reporting of Poverty in the Digital Era

    Jairo Lugo-Ocando

    10.  Framing Poverty: An Historical Overview of Ways of Seeing Poverty

    Stuart Connor

    11.  The Social Construction of Poverty in India: Role of News Media

    Ameeta Motwani

    12.  A History of Media Coverage of Poverty in the United States Since 1960

    Melissa L. Newman and David R. Davies

    13.  Ruin Porn and Virtue Porn: Licensing How We Talk About Perceptions of Urban Decay

    Fred Vultee

    14.  Neoliberal Poverty Discourses in Canadian Newspapers

    Robert Harding

    15.  Coverage of Poverty in Business News: How Media Represent Public and Private Concern for People Living in Poverty

    Andrea Pérez

    16.  Living in a Material World: Celebrity Media Culture and Neoliberal Ideology in the Digital Age

    Jennifer Lewallen

    17.  Urban Inequality and Marginalization with Chris Michael

    Chris Michael and Sandra L. Borden

    Part III “Poor”: News Representations of People Experiencing Poverty

    18.  What about the Actors Involved in News about Poverty? Disrupting Determinist Accounts

    Isabel Awad

    19.  The Picture of Poverty: Visual Images and Their Implications 

    Rosalee Clawson

    20.  Settler Colonial Representations of Indigenous Disadvantage

    Lisa Waller and Kerry McCallum

    21.  Media Representations of Structural Factors Contributing to Women’s Poverty

    Orly Benjamin

    22.  The Cultural Image of the Fat Poor in German News Media

    Claudia Müller

    23.  Representations of the Working Poor

    Christopher R. Martin

    24.  Representation, Poverty, and “Hillbilly Culture” in Appalachia

    Michael Clay Carey

    25.  To Cover or Not to Cover? A Critical Discourse Analysis of Mainstream Media News Framing of Children in Kenyan Care Homes

    A.L. Lando and Lydia Radoli

    26.  Not Sending Their Best: Media Framings of Immigrants as the “Parasitic Poor"

    Jessica Autumn Brown

    27.  News at a Time of Economic Hardship with Judith Matloff

    Judith Matloff and Sandra L. Borden

    Part IV Policy: Indirect Coverage of Poverty as Part of Watchdog Journalism

    28.  Keep Calm and Carry On: Challenging a Discourse of Necessity and Forbearance in News Reporting of UK “Austerity” Policies

    Jen Birks

    29.  Welfare in the Media: Issues of Coloniality and Symbolic Power in the Case of Metiria Turei

    Ahnya Martin, Pita King and Darrin Hodgetts

    30.  Contesting the Narrative of Rootless Others

    Elida Høeg

    31.  Not Just for Christmas: News Media Coverage of Homelessness

    Eoin Devereux

    32.  Criminalization of Poverty: Fines, Fees, Money Bail, and Much More

    Peter Edelman

    33.  From Community Empowerment to Infrastructure Reinforcement: Exploring the Shifting Media Narrative on Indigent Health Policy from Reagan to Obama

    Danielle N. Gadson

    34.  Housing Policy in the News: In Praise of Markets, Problematizing Residents in Poverty

    Leslie Martin

    35.  What Lessons May Be Drawn from Media Reactions to a Universal Basic Income? 

    Rajiv Prabkahar

    36.  Water Access and Solutions Journalism with Jiquanda Johnson

    Jiquanda Johnson and Sandra L. Borden

    Part V Positives: Promising Practices for Better Poverty Coverage

    37.  Amplifying the Deliberative Agency of Indigenous Communities in Philippine News Media

    Athena Presto and Nicole Curato

    38.  Constructive Journalism and Poverty Reduction in China: The Targeted Poverty Alleviation Campaign

    Yanquiu Zhang and Lanjuan Meng

    39.  Citizen Media as a Counter-Narrative: Slum Journalism and the Kibera News Network

    Erica Hagen

    40.  Refugees, Media Representation and Counter-Narrative: An Analysis of TedxKakumaCamp

    Andrew Skuse and Meredith Dowling

    41.  “Filling the Void”? Engagement between the Nonprofit Sector and Journalists in the Production of News about Poverty 

    Kerry Moore and Sian Morgan Lloyd

    42.  Longform Immersion: Situating Struggle as an In/Outsider

    Cass Sever

    43.  Expanding Journalism Students' Empathy by Writing about the Working Poor

    Chris Roberts

    44. Focused on Results, Building Trust with Monica Morales

    Monica Morales and Sandra L. Borden


    Sandra L. Borden (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a professor in the School of Communication at Western Michigan University (United States). She directs the university’s Center for the Study of Ethics in Society and coaches its Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team. Her work has appeared in several scholarly books and journals, including the Journal of Media Ethics, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism and Communication Theory. Her books are the award-winning Journalism as Practice: MacIntyre, Virtue Ethics and the Press (2007; 2009), Ethics and Entertainment: Essays on Media Culture and Media Morality (co-edited with Howard Good, 2010), Making Hard Choices in Journalism Ethics (with David Boeyink, 2010) and Ethics and Error in Medicine (co-edited with Fritz Allhoff, 2019).