Why Media Representations Matter

Yup.

Media Representations of the Homeless

Stereotypes in the media often focus on the actions of a person who is homeless instead of explaining the structural causes of homelessness. In examining the cycle of poverty we, as media professionals, can begin to acknowledge that public policies and structural issues are largely responsible for the increasing populations living in poverty and experiencing homelessness in the U.S.

Journalists often emphasize and rely on common stereotypes of the homeless community to characterize individuals. Media professionals should work to humanize the people living in poverty. By neglecting to address problems that lead to homelessness journalists are telling a one sided story of an entire population. For example, media coverage will often use negative characterizations such as substance abuse, aggressive, unruly, homeless people flooding the streets.

Instead of discussing issues such as: “lack of affordable housing” – “lack of shelters” – “lack of facilities for the mentally ill” – “lack of…

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