The deadline has passed for the most recent class assignment. DO NOT attempt to post a late assignment. It will not be accepted.
Salem-News.com (Nov-14-2007 13:42)
Blue Ghost Recorded on Ohio Gas Station Camera
Tim King Salem-News.com
The owner told Salem-News that this isn’t the first time he has been witness to something that defied explanation.
(PARMA, Ohio) – Could an Ohio gas station be built atop an old Indian burial ground? That’s what one man says in Parma, Ohio, an incorporated city southwest of Cleveland, where a gas station owner caught something he wasn’t at all trying for. A security camera caught a blue ghost on video, and it seems to be in no apparent hurry; the recording lasted half an hour.
Continued at Salem News
What about CNN’s report on the U.F.O. in Stephenville, Texas?
Dozens in Texas town report seeing UFO
STEPHENVILLE, Texas – In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.
Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.
“People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it’s the end of times,” said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. “It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts.”
While federal officials insist there’s a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said the object’s lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several towns who reported seeing it over several weeks have offered similar descriptions of the object.
Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.
“You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal,” Sorrells said. “It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means I’m not crazy.”
Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle’s telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.
Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when most people reported the sighting. —Continued at MSNBC
A news channel covers locals’ response with a little bit of citizen journalism:
And not surprisingly, Larry King (no relation!) gets his paws in this jar:
What do you think?
A look at a career in TV and radio news by the Asian American Journalists Association. For more information go to www.aaja.org.
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
Blaise Pascal, (1623-1662) Lettres provinciales.
Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
Henry David Thoreau
If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.
Marcus T. Cicero
You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.
Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855)
It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.
The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit.
No one who has read official documents needs to be told how easy it is to conceal the essential truth under the apparently candid and all-disclosing phrases of a voluminous and particularizing report….
“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”
What can I say about journalism? It has the greatest virtue and the greatest evil. It is the first thing the dictator controls. It is the mother of literature and the perpetrator of crap. In many cases it is the only history we have, and yet it is the tool of the worst men. But over a long period of time and because it is the product of so many men, it is perhaps the purest thing we have. Honesty has a way of creeping in even when it was not intended.
John Steinbeck (letter to the U.S. Information Service) E. Steinbeck and R. Wallsten, eds., Steinbeck: A Life in Letters (New York: Viking, 1975), 256.
Literary journalism isn’t about literary flourishes, it isn’t about literary references. Literary journalism at its best asks the questions that literature asks: about the nature of human nature and its place in [the] cosmos.
Ron Rosenbaum (in an interview with Tim Cavanaugh, Feed Magazine)
Leads & Teases
Getting listeners to keep their radios tuned to your entire newscast…that’s the function of leads and teases. (Incidentally, the first phrase of the previous sentence is itself a tease.) Despite the importance of leads and teases, many radio journalists do not understand how to fashion effective “hooks” to keep listeners listening.
Repetition is the most common mistake
Repetition is the most common mistake made in leads and teases. As you may have experienced when recognizing the identity of the first six words of the subhead with those at the beginning of this paragraph, repetition of words or ideas is tedious. Listeners understandably come to believe that there is far less news than meets the ear.
Yet repetition is a far-too-frequent feature of news writing, especially between the lead-in to tape (be it voicer, wrap or actuality) and the first sentence on that tape. Here’s one such example:
- EMBATTLED STATE LOTTERY DIRECTOR SAMANTHA WU HANDED IN HER RESIGNATION TO GOVERNOR FREDERICK DOUGLASS. REPORTER SUSAN STARR SAYS WU TOLD THE GOVERNOR THAT SHE HAD BECOME A POLITICAL DISTRACTION.
- IQ: “IN HER RESIGNATION LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR, WU SAID THAT SHE HAD BECOME A DISTRACTION…
The second sentence of the lead provides information that is immediately given again by the first sentence of the tape. This is not, however, the only problem with this lead.
Keep it fresh
Tenses of the past should be avoided in leads and teases. The preterite, or simple past tense, must almost never be used. Any past action should be described in the perfect tense — “have/has” + past participle, which often ends in “-ed.” The stative quality of the perfect tense can make it seem like the present.
Better still is the use of the present progressive tense — “am/are/is” + present participle ending in “-ing” — to describe an event that has just taken place. In the story above, it would have been better to write:
- EMBATTLED STATE LOTTERY DIRECTOR SAMANTHA WU IS CALLING IT QUITS. REPORTER SUSAN STARR SAYS WU FEARS THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING HER HUSBAND’S BUSINESS DEALINGS IS HARMING GOVERNOR DOUGLASS.
- IQ: “IN HER RESIGNATION LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR, WU SAID THAT SHE HAD BECOME A DISTRACTION…
Present tenses give immediacy and energy to news writing, allowing listeners to feel that they are hearing about the news as it is taking place. Moreover, in the course of the day leads should be advanced to freshen the story…even though the same tape is being used. In the example story given above, a later lead for the same tape could be as follows:
- GOVERNOR DOUGLASS MUST FIND A NEW LOTTERY DIRECTOR. REPORTER SUSAN STARR SAYS EMBATTLED CURRENT DIRECTOR SAMANTHA WU IS GIVING UP THE JOB.
- IQ: “IN HER RESIGNATION LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR, WU SAID THAT SHE HAD BECOME A DISTRACTION…
The changing lead shifts the emphasis of the story to a future event, the appointment of a new lottery director. The tape then functions as background information for this future event, and so the package of lead and tape together remain fresh.
Absent antecedent alert!
A frequent error in teases is the use of pronouns without any reference to identify the pronouns. The pronouns’ antecedents are absent. This error leads to teases such as:
- HE WANTED TO DIE BUT THEY SAID NO. THE STORY NEXT ON 990 NEWS.
Who is “he”? Who are “they”? (The story concerns a convicted murderer who asked the jury to sentence him to death, but the jury decided instead on a sentence of life in prison without parole.)
Some might claim that this lead has mystery, and this mystery will compel listeners to stay tuned. There certainly is mystery, but confusion seems the only result in the minds of listeners. A better tease gives listeners information, not a guessing game:
- LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR CHILD-KILLER WALT THOMAS. THE DETAILS NEXT ON 990 NEWS.
Teases should not tell the entire story, but teases are only a sentence long. Even the most information-packed short sentence can rarely give all the necessary details to satisfy listeners. The tease whets the appetite of listeners, who will want the completeness of hearing the full script if they have an idea of what the story is about. Deliberately confusing or gimmicky teases only frustrate listeners and drive them away.
Journalism instructors often state that broadcast newswriting is supposed to sound just like everyday speech. In essence, however, writing broadcast news is more akin to writing song lyrics. Both tasks involve constructing language in a visual form (writing) for communication in an oral form (speaking or singing). Like song lyrics, broadcast newswriting adheres to patterns of language use (such as appropriate vocabulary and formulaic sentence-structure) that the audience expects to hear and will use in interpreting the communication.
Even though commercial broadcasting has been around for less than a century, radio listeners have come to expect their newscasts to be written in a particular way. Learning about broadcast sentence-structure is one of the foundations for developing effective skills at radio newswriting.
Keep it simple
Grammarians distinguish between three types of sentences: simple, compound and complex. A simple sentence contains a subject and a verb. A compound sentence is composed of two simple sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction (“and,” “but,” “or,” “nor”). A complex sentence is composed of two simple sentences joined by a subordinating conjunction (which may be temporal, such as “when”; causal, such as “because”; or concessive, such as “although”).
You probably remember this lesson from elementary school, but the distinctions remain quite relevant to broadcast newswriting. In your scripts, simple sentences are best. You will, of course, regularly use compound and complex sentences, but the clarity achieved through the use of simple sentences can rarely be surpassed.
Linguists describe English as a highly asyndetic language — which means that clauses in the same train of thought do not always need to be connected by conjunctions or connecting particles. Such particles in English include the words “moreover,” “furthermore,” and “however,” words that should be avoided in broadcast newswriting. Listeners are themselves capable of connecting the elements of a story if the story is presented clearly and concisely, and these listeners expect important news to be reported in simple sentences. This expectation is especially true of leads, which generally should be written as simple sentences. When a lead begins with a subordinating conjunction, listeners discount the story’s urgency. This is why such leads almost always appear in feature stories or zingers.
Avoid your relatives
Relative clauses, which begin with a relative pronoun or adverb such as “who,” “which” or “where,” provide additional information about a noun in a sentence. Those relative clauses which interrupt the flow of the sentence should not be used in broadcast newswriting. In a text communicated visually, a reader has the words on a page or screen to help guide him back to the story after the detour of a relative clause. Listeners do not have such a guide and must rely on the speaker to provide information in readily understood clauses that are concise and uninterrupted.
A sentence with an interrupting relative clause should be rewritten into two simple sentences. Take the following example:
- FRED GRANDY…WHO PLAYED “GOPHER” ON THE ORIGINAL “LOVEBOAT” T-V SERIES…LATER SPENT 8 YEARS AS A CONGRESSMAN FROM IOWA.
A clearer means of expressing the same information is through two simple sentences:
- FRED GRANDY PLAYED “GOPHER” ON THE ORIGINAL “LOVE BOAT” T-V SERIES. HE LATER SPENT 8 YEARS AS A CONGRESSMAN FROM IOWA.
Recognize that apposition — the placing of a noun or phrase after another noun and marked off only by commas or, in this very example, dashes — is like a relative clause without the relative pronoun. Long, interrupting appositions, like interrupting relative clauses, should be avoided in broadcast newswriting.
Relative clauses and appositions can be used at the end of a sentence. This placement is especially useful for clauses beginning with the adverb “where,” as in
- FIRE DESTROYED THE HISTORIC HOME, WHERE GEORGE WASHINGTON ONCE SLEPT.
Clauses beginning with “who” or “which” are acceptable when placed at the end of a sentence, but sometimes it may be preferable to write two simple sentences instead. For example,
- SIMMONS IS SUING FOR RETURN OF THE “BARBIE”-DOLL COLLECTION, WHICH HE SAYS IS WORTH A QUARTER-OF-A-MILLION DOLLARS.
could also be written
- SIMMONS IS SUING FOR RETURN OF THE “BARBIE”-DOLL COLLECTION. HE SAYS THE COLLECTION’S WORTH A QUARTER-OF-A-MILLION DOLLARS.
Finally, two very common writing faults made by beginning reporters also appear nowadays in all other types of English writing, namely the overuse both of the passive voice and of the existential “there is,” “there are” construction. Use the active voice. Write sentences with subjects that are doing things and not subjects that are merely receiving actions upon them. Do not waste time stating an object’s existence (this is what the “there is” construction shows). Describe that object doing something.
Simple sentences with active verbs form the basis of effective writing for radio. All other broadcast newswriting techniques are built upon the foundation laid by this type of sentence structure.
Avoiding “Cop Talk”
Many of the stories we report involve crimes and police attempts to apprehend those responsible. The importance of these stories to our listeners, as well as the often complex and uncertain nature of police investigations, can be quite intimidating for young reporters, with the result that they frequently repeat verbatim the description of a crime given to them by a police official.
Don’t “do the police in different voices”
Police officers are taught to describe their investigations in a way that provides specific details of events with the vaguest possible discussions about those whom police believe responsible. This “cop talk” developed from the legal requirements that enforcement officials need to meet in order to make arrests and gain convictions. But “cop talk” is inadequate for reporting on radio.
Here’s an example of “cop talk,” a story only slightly modified from what was broadcast on a small-market station:
- TWO MEN ARE UNDER ARREST FOR ROBBING A JEWELRY STORE. POLICE SAY THE MEN ENTERED THE VILLAGE PAWN SHOP AT 1407 MAIN STREET AT APPROXIMATELY 10:15 YESTERDAY MORNING. AFTER WAITING INSIDE THE STORE FOR A FEW MINUTES, ONE OF THE MEN DISPLAYED A GUN AND ORDERED TWO EMPLOYEES TO PLACE INTO A DUFFEL BAG ALL THE CASH FROM THE REGISTER AS WELL AS SEVERAL ITEMS OF JEWELRY. THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE IN THE STORE AT THE TIME. THE MEN LEFT THE STORE, AND ONE EMPLOYEE WAS ABLE TO SEE THE MEN DRIVE OFF IN A BLUE DODGE ARIES. THE EMPLOYEES NOTIFIED POLICE, AND AT APPROXIMATELY 11 O’CLOCK A VEHICLE MATCHING THE DESCRIPTION OF THE GETAWAY CAR WAS SPOTTED PARKED IN AN ALLEY IN BACK OF A HOUSE AT 684 WILLOW STREET. POLICE ENTERED THE HOUSE WHERE THEY FOUND TWO MEN, AN AMOUNT OF MONEY, AND ITEMS OF JEWELRY LATER IDENTIFIED AS HAVING BEEN TAKEN FROM THE STORE. A COMPUTER CHECK OF THE VEHICLE DETERMINED THAT IT WAS STOLEN. THE MEN WERE IDENTIFIED AS 34-YEAR-OLD MILES STANDISH OF MIDDLEVILLE AND 28-YEAR-OLD JOHN ALDEN OF SMALLTOWN. THE MEN WILL FACE A VARIETY OF CHARGES.
Cut irrelevant details
This script (which runs about 54 seconds) is far too long, with irrelevant details such as the make and model of the getaway car, while the identification of the suspects isn’t revealed until the very end. It is obvious that the reporter merely repeated the words of a police officer or of a police press release. Here’s a brief rewrite of the script (which now runs 31 seconds):
- TWO MEN ARE BEHIND BARS THIS MORNING AFTER AN ARMED ROBBERY OF A MIDDLEVILLE PAWN SHOP. POLICE SAY 34-YEAR-OLD MILES STANDISH OF MIDDLEVILLE AND 28-YEAR-OLD JOHN ALDEN OF SMALLTOWN ROBBED THE VILLAGE PAWN SHOP ON MAIN STREET YESTERDAY, FORCING TWO WORKERS AT GUNPOINT TO STUFF A DUFFEL BAG WITH MONEY AND JEWELRY. THE SUSPECTS WERE LATER ARRESTED IN A HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET AFTER POLICE SAY THEY SPOTTED THE GETAWAY CAR BEHIND THE HOME AND ITEMS TAKEN IN THE HEIST WERE FOUND INSIDE THE HOUSE. STANDISH AND ALDEN ARE EXPECTED TO FACE A VARIETY OF CHARGES.
The new version has the police making the allegations against the two suspects (as is legal and proper), but many details unnecessary to the main point of the story have been removed.
But don’t make the opposite mistake of being too informal
“Cop talk” is predominantly a problem in small-market stations in stories by inexperienced reporters, but the opposite extreme seems to be taking hold in larger markets. Big-city reporters are becoming exceedingly colloquial in their language when covering police stories. Here’s an example that aired on a major-market station in New England. The story concerned a stolen minivan in which a mother had left two babies inside. In telling the story the reporter said:
- …A WOMAN LEFT TWO INFANTS IN THE VAN WHILE SHE DROPPED OFF AN OLDER CHILD AT DAYCARE. THE VAN WAS STILL RUNNING, AND MEANWHILE SOME GUY MUST HAVE JUMPED IN AND DROVE OFF. WHEN HE REALIZED THERE WERE TWO INFANTS IN BACK, HE DITCHED THE VAN, AND POLICE ARE NOW SEARCHING FOR THE GUY IN SOME NEARBY WOODS…. BUT THANKFULLY THE KIDS ARE OKAY.
This script does not clearly report what police believe to have happened. In fact, the script seems to indicate that this version of events is merely speculation on the part of the reporter. There was no indication of any witness seeing who drove the minivan away. Perhaps the driver was a woman. Moreover, there is no evidence for the alleged motivation of this mystery driver to have abandoned the minivan. Maybe the driver saw the babies, maybe the driver didn’t.
Just as troubling as the sloppiness with which this script was put together was the overly conversational tone. A suspect of unknown sex should be called a “suspect.” If an unidentified suspect is a man, he should be called a “man” — not “some guy.” Being too chatty damages the credibility of the reporter to be an authoritative source of information.
Radio reporters need to strike a balance in the language they use. Scripts cannot be ploddingly detailed and dull, yet being too colloquial may lead to sloppiness and lack of credibility.
Charges & Allegations
During the initial flurry of stories concerning President Clinton’s relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, the late ABC-TV news anchor Peter Jennings interviewed humorist and social commentator P. J. O’Rourke. Jennings asked O’Rourke to discuss “the alleged age difference between the President and Ms. Lewinsky,” to which O’Rourke wittily replied, “Yes, Peter, we haven’t yet determined whether there actually is an age difference between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. There is only an alleged age difference.”
Jennings smiled at the reply, realizing that he had misused the word “alleged.” The word allows journalists to discuss claims that have not been proved, but it is a word easily open to abuse.
Say, say, say
The best way to use the words “allege,” “alleged” and “allegedly” is not to use them at all. Instead, have your scripts reveal who is making the claim by using phrases such as “police say” or “prosecutors say” followed by the substance of the allegation. For example, a story about a bank-robbery suspect that contains the sentence
- …34-YEAR-OLD MILLARD FILLMORE ALLEGEDLY ROBBED THE “BANK NOW” BRANCH ON CHURCH STREET….
should be rewritten so that the sentence reads
- …POLICE SAY 34-YEAR-OLD MILLARD FILLMORE ROBBED THE “BANK NOW” BRANCH ON CHURCH STREET….
As another example, if a sentence in a story about a local government official facing trial for corruption reads
- …ZONING BOARD PRESIDENT DOLLY MADISON IS ALLEGED TO HAVE TAKEN BRIBES FROM DEVELOPERS….
rewrite the script into something like
- …PROSECUTORS SAY ZONING BOARD PRESIDENT DOLLY MADISON TOOK BRIBES FROM DEVELOPERS….
Always use the verb “say” in such scripts. Avoid the temptation to employ other verbs (such as “claim,” “state” or “charge”) when reporting allegations. Other verbs bring connotations that will color your reporting. For example, if your script has police claiming that an individual committed a crime, your listeners may well interpret the script as indicating that you the reporter do not believe the police. To speak of someone charging an allegation implies legal actions — charges — have been filed. To maintain as unbiased and accurate a report as possible, stay with the neutral verb “say.”
Learn the distinction between “accused” and “alleged.” When legal charges have been filed against an individual, that individual becomes accused of the behavior detailed in those charges. The individual can then be described as an “accused rapist,” “accused murderer,” “accused embezzler,” and so forth. In scripts, the use of the adjective accused should be limited to one occurrence at or near the beginning of the script in order to describe a suspect quickly and efficiently. Notice the use of the word in this story about a homicide trial:
- ACCUSED MURDERER AARON BURR HAS BROKEN DOWN IN TEARS AT HIS TRIAL, TELLING JURORS THAT HE DID NOT KILL HIS FRIEND ALEX HAMILTON LAST JULY. TAKING THE STAND IN HIS OWN DEFENSE, BURR CRIED YESTERDAY AS HE WAS TALKING ABOUT HIS INITIAL INTERROGATION BY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES. BURR SAID INTIMIDATING QUESTIONING CAUSED HIM TO GIVE CONFLICTING STORIES TO INVESTIGATORS. PROSECUTORS HAVE SAID THAT BURR KILLED HAMILTON AFTER AN ARGUMENT OVER MONEY IN HAMILTON’S MOHICAN SPRINGS APARTMENT. BURR IS EXPECTED TO FACE CROSS-EXAMINATION WHEN THE TRIAL RESUMES AT THE HANOVER COUNTY COURTHOUSE LATER TODAY.
In the above script, the adjective “accused” appears once and only once. Multiple use may lead listeners to believe that you the reporter want them to think a suspect is guilty because the adjective “accused” is weaker than the powerful nouns it regularly accompanies (such as “murderer” or “rapist”).
As has already been mentioned, the verb “charge” implies that legal actions have been filed against an individual or company. The verb should be used only to describe the process of filing the action:
- POLICE HAVE CHARGED 32-YEAR-OLD LIZZIE BORDEN WITH TWO COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER FOR THE PICK-AXE SLAYINGS OF HER FATHER AND STEP-MOTHER….
The specific legal charge should also be named, such as the “two counts of first-degree murder” of the previous example. Pay careful attention to the specific charge. Prosecutors may say that an individual is a murderer and organized-crime boss but charge him with only tax evasion. The defendant could then be described as being “accused of tax evasion” but not as an “accused murderer and crime boss” — the murders and organized-crime connections are allegations, not charges.
Occasions do exist for the use of “allege,” “alleged” or “allegedly.” When claims are made concerning an individual but no legal charges have been publicly filed, and the source of the claims is complicated to identify, then “alleged” becomes an acceptable option for describing the individual and the claims. For example, a community group holds a press conference calling for the firing of the deputy chief of police. Earlier that week, three former civilian employees of the police department told a newspaper reporter that they have heard the deputy chief use racial slurs. The reporter was investigating a tip that the deputy chief had recently faced a closed-door, disciplinary hearing with the public safety director and the civil service commission.
The complex nature of the story can lead to extremely tortured syntax in your script. In this situation, a sentence such as
- …THE “TOGETHER COALITION” IS ANGRY OVER RACIST COMMENTS ALLEGEDLY MADE BY DEPUTY CHIEF FRANKLIN PIERCE….
might be the most efficient way of succinctly explaining the story. As with “accused,” forms of “alleged” should be used only once in a given script.
Finally, remember the mistake of Peter Jennings and ensure that you place the word “alleged” in front of what is actually being alleged. Rewriting the previous script example to read
- …THE “TOGETHER COALITION” IS ANGRY OVER ALLEGEDLY RACIST COMMENTS MADE BY DEPUTY CHIEF FRANKLIN PIERCE….
significantly changes the meaning of the sentence. Now the question is not whether the deputy chief made comments, but rather whether the particular words he used were racist. If, however, it has not yet been determined what, if anything, the deputy chief may have said, the allegations concern the making of the comment and not the sense of the comments themselves. The earlier version of the sentence is then the correct one.
Finally, until a judicial authority has rendered a decision, a suspect or defendant has not been proved guilty of the charges or allegations against him. Not only is it unethical to describe this individual as, say, a “murderer” or “embezzler” without the qualification of words like “accused” and “alleged,” but such descriptions could turn you into a defendant yourself — for libel.
–Taken from Newswriting for Radio
THE FOLLOWING POSTS WERE ON TIME – NO LATE EXCEPTIONS!
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Links to markets, groups, resources, and jobs for freelance writers. Compiled for Dr. Michael Arnzen’s “Publication Workshop” class at SHU, Spring 2008. This is newly incarnated version of the “Handy Job Hunter for Writers” (now defunct). Archives are at http://www.gorelets.com
By Ellen Yan
March 31, 2008
These days, food pantries aren’t just for the jobless or homeless.
Tapping such free resources has turned into a survival tactic for some working members of the middle class as they struggle with an economy that has put them in a bind.
A father of three, Bill makes more than $70,000 a year. But after his mortgage rate reset in October, hiking his payments from $3,300 to $4,300, he began going to his church’s food pantry.
“I sat here at home and argued with my wife about who’s going,” said Bill, a Nassau County employee who asked not to be identified further. “I tried to go to work that day. … It’s very embarrassing.
“Here I’m making a decent salary. I’m a professional, but I can’t even feed my kids.”
More and more working Long Islanders are straining to put groceries on the table as many essentials — milk and bread, fuel oil, gasoline and health care premiums — have climbed faster than the Consumer Price Index. In some cases, they’re people daunted by the steep rise in property taxes or payments on their adjustable-rate mortgages.
These new hard times have turned some past donors into today’s receivers of charity. The number of people seeking help is up even as donations are down. Food collected from restaurants and supermarkets by the Mineola-based Island Harvest dropped from 7 million pounds in 2006 to 6.5 million last year, and the agency has started pressing more farmers to help fill the hole.
While no agency keeps statistics for food pantries across Long Island, some operators find they’re facing double the number of clients from a year ago.
“We’re seeing folks that may own a home, who may be working two or three jobs, but are not able to cover all the costs that they’ve incurred,” said Gwen O’Shea, president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, a social services advocacy group.
–Continued at Long Island Cares (originally published by Newsday)
Lots of Long Islanders discuss the issue at Topix (443 comments and counting)
From The Nation — “The New Suburban Poverty” — selected excerpts:
Last December the Brookings Institution published a report showing that from Las Vegas to Boise to Houston, suburban poverty has been growing over the past seven years, in some places slowly, in others by as much as 33 percent. “The enduring social and fiscal challenges for cities that stem from high poverty are increasingly shared by their suburbs,” the report concludes. It’s a problem some may assume is confined to the ragged fringes of so-called “inner ring” suburbs that directly border cities, places where the housing stock is older and from which many wealthier residents long ago departed. But this isn’t the case. “Overall…first suburbs did not bear the brunt of increasing suburban poverty in the early 2000s,” notes the Brookings report, which found that economic distress has spread to “second-tier suburbs and ‘exurbs'” as well.
The result is a historic milestone that has gone strangely ignored: For the first time ever, more poor Americans live in the suburbs than in all our cities combined. …
What you’ll also see are people like the day laborers who gather every morning in the parking lots of the Home Depots in Nassau County, Long Island, where the median family income is $87,558 and the overall poverty rate is fairly low, but where the demand for food stamps has increased by 40 percent since 2003. …
Price used to make $15 an hour, with health benefits and vacation days. What he’s hoping to avoid is the fate of people like Jodi Wilmouth, whom I met at the Rockingham County Red Cross, which opened a food pantry several years ago in a low-slung brick building in Eden. Wilmouth earns $6.25 an hour as a cashier at a local department store called Belk, which she said is not enough to cover her basic expenses. On the day she dropped by, President Bush was visiting a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Illinois. He later said that in today’s economy “workers are making more money.” …
But the suburbs also have their disadvantages, among them the fact that getting anywhere generally requires a car. There’s no public transportation system in most outlying suburban areas, which is why the people who show up at the food pantry at the Red Cross in Rockingham County often carpool to get there, cramming one person each from four or five families into a single vehicle to save gas. Then, too, the newness of suburban poverty means in many towns there’s a dearth of social service agencies to offer help. Nearly 7,000 people showed up at the food pantry last year, a sevenfold increase from 2000. “It’s overwhelming,” said Janna Nowell, the facility’s director. The day before I visited, the pantry ran out of food, a problem that’s become familiar in many suburban locales. “There’s a growing spatial gap between the providers and the people in need,” says Alan Berube. “Public hospitals, nutrition assistance programs–most of these things are still overwhelmingly urban. You see small-scale operations in suburbs getting inundated. They just can’t deal with the demand.” …
Unravel the thread linking suburbs to prosperity and something else begins to come undone: the story Republicans have told about how people living there, particularly those in the fastest-growing, furthest-outlying communities, are their natural constituents. “Democrats stink in the exurbs” is how conservative columnist Brooks put it some years ago, pointing to the strip-mall zones around Orlando, strong Jeb Bush territory, and to Mesa, Arizona, a booming area east of Phoenix. In these rapidly expanding communities, places where the parking lots of megachurches fill up every Sunday with SUVs, liberals just don’t have a clue what matters to people, Brooks implied. In the 2004 election, it appeared he was right: Republicans swept such areas, carrying a startling ninety-seven of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the country. In Democratic circles, panic ensued.
–Continued at The Nation.
About her feelings for Hillary Clinton.
Let the backlash begin. Surprisingly (to me, at least), Keith Olbermann is the lead-off lambaster. She’s his “Worst Person in the World,” ranking right up there with Rupert Mudoch. Take that tongue lashing, you Feminazi Couric!
In other news, “Katie Tarts It Up” — “it” is the news, or so goes the debate. Can Couric redeem CBS where Dan Rather presumably failed? Of course, note the gender card the dudes are pulling, especially by characterizing Couric’s news stories as “soft” …
And a quick excerpt below from this month’s Curve Magazine — “Why Do They Hate Us? How the media treats Hillary is indicative of how the world sees women: as second-class citizens” by Victoria A. Brownworth (wish I could re-type the whole thing! Here’s a note about the article though, if you don’t buy the magazine):
After covering Obama’s speech about race in Philadelphia, I wrote a newspaper column discussing why we still can’t talk about gender in the United States. The reasons are manifold and scary to contemplate. In the United States the statistics speak for themselves: One in six women will be raped in her lifetime. One in four has survived child sexual abuse or an incestuous relationship with a male relative. One in three has been the victim of domestic violence. Over 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend each year. The leading cause of death among pregnant women is murder by a spouse or boyfriend. Four out of every five female murder victims in the United States were killed by men they knew: a spouse, a boyfriend, a male relative, a co-worker.
This means millions of American men — men we know, men we may love or have loved — hate us enough to rape, maim or kill us. Millions. It’s a difficult reality to face: Women and girls are so hated that our lives and bodies mean nothing to these men.
Perhaps that reality and the inchoate knowledge of it is why it was easy for people to refer to Clinton with the vilest of hate speech and feel no remorse and receive no recrimination from either the general populace or the media. GOP organizer and conservative pundit Roger Stone even started an ant-Clinton 527: Citizens United Not Timid, or C.U.N.T. He appeared on talk shows, including Tucker on MSNBC, talking about his group. Stone said he’d thought a long time about a name that would be uniquely suited to Clinton and said his group is “dedicated to educating the public about what Hillary really is.”
Note the pronoun: “what,” not “who.” In Stone’s description, Hillary is a cunt. Not a presidential candidate, a senator or even just a woman. A cunt.
–From Curve (July/August 2008)