A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Trump’s second impeachment trial has come and gone. The Senate has headed home on vacation again. The Biden administration has continued to prioritize a Covid relief package. So in the coming days you’ll probably hear reporters say that Covid talks have “returned to center stage” or something to that effect. But let’s all recognize that badly needed relief has been top of mind for millions of Americans all along. Countless workers had no time to watch the trial proceedings, even if they were interested, because had to make ends meet.
That’s why the economic hardship beat is so essential, in newsrooms large and small. Reporters have the ability to raise up voices that are otherwise rarely, barely heard. Here are a few powerful, recent examples of this reporting:
>> The NYT’s Jason DeParle showed “how vulnerable the needy are to partisan standoffs in an age of polarized government” through the eyes of Kathryn Stewart, a struggling single mother in rural Michigan.
>> One of the takeaways from DeParle’s piece: “The past year showed how much safety net programs can help — and how the nation’s fickleness about them can add confusion and uncertainty to fear and worry.”
>> This subject has been on my mind because I’ve been reading an early copy of “Fulfillment,” a tour de force by Alec MacGillis about America, Amazon, income inequality, and regional imbalances. For a preview, read Yauhini Vara’s review for The Atlantic.
>> What happens when mobile home park dwellers fall behind on rent and fall through safety nets? NBC’s Leticia Miranda carefully told the story in this new feature on Sunday.
>> “America cannot succeed when so many Americans are failing,” NYT columnist Nick Kristof wrote in a column centered around his childhood friend Mike, who wound up homeless, “wrestling with addictions and sleeping in a city park.”
>> And CNBC’s Greg Iacurci recently wrote about older Americans, some in their 80s, who have been “pushed out of work” by the “Covid recession…”
>> Local news outlets have excelled at telling the stories of families that need Covid-related relief. Just search for words like “hardship” via Google News to see…
FOR THE RECORD
– I missed this story the other day: Ella Koeze showed how Reddit has become “America’s unofficial unemployment hotline…” (NYT)
– A V-Day story by Quint Forgey: “Bidens bring presidential PDA back to the White House…” (Politico)
– A Valentine-themed weather report by Patrick Ellis, the AM meteorologist at WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, as a winter storm approached: “If you don’t like the person you’re with, you might as well go ahead and leave right now…” (Twitter)
– The storm is massive, with watches and warnings stretching all the way from New Mexico to Maine, so this will remain a big story on Monday… (Weather Channel)