Spotlight Exclusives

Some Good News About the Media, Campaigns and Poverty

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Last night, CNN broadcast a special event on “compassion” — liveinterviews with the two Democratic presidential candidates talking about arange of faith and compassion issues.

Advocates of making poverty a bigger issue in the campaign,at least this space, believe this was an important show.  While we wishthe issue of domestic poverty might have come up more, when it did come up somevery important commitments were made. So kudos to CNN.

It also bears repeating that this year on thecampaign trail has seen an across the board uptick in coverage of poverty bythe media in general.  Correction.  More than an uptick — a dramatic increase.  John Bridgeland, my Republican partner in editing thissection, and I compared the number of news stories between 2003 and 2007 thattalked about issues like poverty, politics and the campaigns.  We used a variety ofdifferent metrics.  In every one, coverage has been significantlyup — like 145% increases. (

More good news. Already 2008 looks like a year when thesubject will come up even more on the campaign trail. Every candidate hasnow made a commitment to make fighting poverty a major element of theiradministration.

Our belief is that advocacy, media coverage of poverty, andcandidate commitments about poverty are linked. Each influences the others.  It is a virtuouscycle but the key thing is the goal: real positive solutions.

What that means for advocates is give due credit to themedia and candidates when they take on these issues, but don۪t stop until thereis action.

Tom Freedman was Senior Advisor to the President during the Clinton Administration. He is a co-editor of the Spotlight on Poverty Commentary section, along with John Bridgeland, former Director of the Domestic Policy Council for President George W. Bush.

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