Poverty: Everyone has an opinion on it. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have the whole picture?

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August 7, 2017 by NUJMcrSalford

The National Union of Journalists has released a film made by young people to talk about the experience of poverty

The film asks media workers to consider how they tackle the subject and to think more about the roots and causes of poverty and the reasons people find themselves dependent on benefits.

Individual donors, trade unionists, journalists and NUJ members funded the film which tells stories of job loss, single parenthood, child poverty, unemployment and seeking refugee status while showing the contributions of people in communities. Contributors talk about their identity being stripped away, the need to treat people with dignity and they reveal their ambitions, dreams and plans before and since living in poverty.

The film supports the NUJ’s campaign on reporting poverty, which includes new guidelines for its members.

Gavin Aitchison, Poverty Media Co-Ordinator at Church Action on Poverty, an organisation which contributed to the film and the campaign, says: “Poverty is a major issue for society today. The great thing about these guidelines is they have at their heart the voices of the people in poverty and that’s immensely important for journalists and I think most journalists would welcome that.”

The film-makers, aged 16 to 24, from The Reporters’ Academy in Salford, some who have experienced low pay, homelessness and a need to rely on benefits, were keen to help challenge the misconceptions and stereotypes. They conducted interviews, storyboarded a draft, were trained in using media equipment and filmed and edited their work.

Glyn McGuire, co-founder of the Academy, said: “These young people were uniquely placed to benefit from and work on the project. They came from a variety of backgrounds with different life experiences with half the team experiencing poverty as a result of not being in work, education or training, or being homeless.”

Some of the responses from young people who worked on the project include:

“It was great to produce a film about a subject that not only affects my own community but every community in this country. It’s not often that a story can be of interest and value to almost everyone.”

“It was really good to open a door and visit a project and be surprised by what was behind that door. It broke down some of my perceptions.”

“It was important my interview questions were pitched correctly. I didn’t want the viewer to feel sorry for the interviewee but to understand that this is their life, day in, day out.”

“It made me think more about the different approaches you may need to produce journalism which can be sensitive.”

Manchester and Salford NUJ branch has also created a unique Guide for Journalists in collaboration with Church Action on Poverty intended to help media workers consider how to present the challenges faced by low-paid workers and others in receipt of benefits.

Branch equality office, Rachel Broady, who is leading the campaign, said: “It’s clear many readers, viewers and listeners think the way poverty is reported needs to be challenged and that journalists need to reconsider what it is they’re contributing to.”

The film can be viewed on the NUJ website where campaign materials can also be downloaded.

For more information please contact:

Rachel Broady, Manchester and Salford Branch Equality Officer, at mcrsalfordnuj@gmail.com or Glyn McGuire, at The Reporters’ Academy, at glyn@thereportersacademy.com

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