LJMU conference puts poverty in spotlight

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LJMU Journalism programme leader Jackie Newton welcoming delegates to the Reporting Poverty 2017 conference

LJMU Journalism programme leader Jackie Newton welcoming delegates to the Reporting Poverty 2017 conference

Liverpool John Moores University played host to a ‘Reporting Poverty’ conference yesterday, with delegates coming from as far afield as Hungary and Spain.

Keynote speaker professor Catherine Cole from LJMU kicked off the day, introducing the over-arching topic of class, poverty and austerity. Jackie Newton, Programme Leader for Journalism at LJMU, said: “Poverty is a blemish on society, and shouldn’t be around in the 21st century.”

As those attending explored the effects of the media on poverty, the day involved everyone in a complex series of discussions. The debate was enlivened by live video streams and tweets going out on social media, making it evident that these are key issues in today’s society.

The conference presented studies going back to Victorian Manchester, courtesy of LJMU PhD student Rachel Broady, while Rowan Sandle from Leeds Beckett University dissected how reality TV has tainted the public view of poverty.

YouTube: Ethical Journalism Network

A topic which was consistently highlighted was that of media framing. This examined the way in which people are represented within the press and how this affects public opinion. It became apparent that it is crucial for guidelines on reporting the issue, such as those by the National Union of Journalists, to be adhered to.

The focus wasn’t just on the UK, with speakers approaching poverty on a global scale.

Maria San Felipe Frias researched how the press approached the issue of children in poverty.

Speakers (from left) Maria San Felipe Frias, Ben Lamb and Dave Toomer at the LJMU Reporting Poverty conference

Speakers (from left) Maria San Felipe Frias, Ben Lamb and Dave Toomer at the LJMU Reporting Poverty conference. Pic © JMU Journalism

Darlene Musoro from the Technical University of Dortmund continued the media framing topic but focused on three countries in West Africa – Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon – and related this to Bradshaw’s poverty and anti-poverty theories. She said: “Poverty is the denial of choices, opportunities and a violation of human dignity.”

LJMU Journalism lecturer, Dave Toomer, wound up the conference by observing how newspaper closures, areas of social deprivation and the coverage of parliamentary elections are linked, and the ways in deprivation makes a difference.

Rachel Broady concluded: “The term ‘distress’ is used to encapsulate the poor.”