Reality TV shoot – caption competition #1

Reality TV- Poverty and the Media

People in the early twenty first century thought nothing of watching the insane for entertainment. It was seen as quite normal. People used to joke that it was often hard to decide who was the madder, the actors, the crew or the viewers. There are stories of the celebs leaving the asylum and the wrong people being kept inside.

Reality TV studioHave a look at this “behind the scenes” image of a reality TV studio shoot and if you have any idea for a caption add it below.

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Follow the link if you would like to know more about our Poverty and Participation in the Media project

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #1

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #2

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #3

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #4

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #5

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Poverty and Participation in the Media is now available to buy on DVD

Poverty and Partcipation in the Media is now available to buy on DVD from the Spectacle Catalogue page.

Poverty and Participation in the Media is a participatory media project examining how the media treats poverty and those affected. Looking at opportunity and exclusion; representation, stigmatisation and stereotyping. With the wealth gap on the increase and virtual segregation of the classes creating urban ghettos – Does the media bridge or increase the divide?

The Spectacle Catalogue page contains videos produced by Spectacle, Despite TV and others and all the titles are available to buy on both video and DVD.

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More children living in persistent poverty in Northern Ireland than Great Britain

More children living in persistent poverty in Northern Ireland than Great Britain

A report published today (12 November 2009), on child poverty in Northern Ireland, found that more families in Northern Ireland experience persistent poverty than in Great Britain.

What can we do to tackle child poverty in Northern Ireland by Goretti Horgan from the University of Ulster and Marina Monteith from Save the Children (Northern Ireland) explores the challenges faced by the Northern Ireland Assembly in meeting its target of eradicating child poverty. It found that persistent poverty in Northern Ireland (21% before housing costs) is more than double that in Great Britain (9% before housing costs).

The report points to four main reasons for higher persistent poverty in Northern Ireland:
·        High levels of worklessness: 31 per cent of the working-age population is not in paid work,higher than any GB region and 6 per cent higher than the GB average.
·        High rates of disability and limiting long-term illness, especially mental ill-health.
·        Low wages: the median wage for men working full-time is 85 per cent of that for British men.
·        Poor-quality part-time jobs and obstacles to mothers working.

The authors acknowledge that although there are some areas which need to be tackled that are beyond the Assembly’s control, there are issues over which the devolved administration has some influence. They recommend that the Assembly works on six key areas:
·        Increasing the supply of well-paid, good quality jobs
·        Supporting those already in work to increase their qualification levels
·        Alleviating the worst impacts of poverty on children
·        Addressing the lack of quality affordable childcare
·        Increasing educational attainment
·        Providing access to leisure and social activities for poorer young people

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the JRF, said: “The Assembly has already shown that it is possible to intervene to alleviate some of the worst aspects of poverty. Just as it provided the one-off fuel payment of £150 to families on benefit in winter 2008/09, it could make it easier for people to take ‘mini-jobs’, allowing those living on benefits to provide a little extra for their families. School budgets need to provide for all the costs of education including books, school trips and after-school activities. It must also address ways of giving poorer young people access to positive social and leisure activities.”

What can we do to tackle child poverty in Northern Ireland by Goretti Horgan from the University of Ulster and Marina Monteith from Save the Children (Northern Ireland), is available to download for free from the Joseph Rowntree website.

For more information view Spectacle’s Poverty and Participation in the Media project.

Notes:
Poverty is defined as a family income below 60% of the median income.
Persistent poverty defined as being in poverty for at least three out of four years (in this case 2003-2007).

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Benefit Busters: Blaming the poor…..again

Channel 4’s new show ‘Benefit Busters’ seems to be a PR gem for a government overseeing the biggest economic crisis in the past 30 years. Once again the numerous reasons why unemployment is soaring and more and more people are finding themselves in the ranks of the long-term unemployed is ignored in favour of the old-iddium- ‘people are lazy’. The concept is simple, an outside team come into the local job centre and teach all the unemployed the reason they have no job is their negative attitude.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t so mind-numbingly unoriginal and tragic.  That Channel 4 has managed to find a character that bares a striking  resemblance to ‘league of gentlemen restart officer Pauline’ in the form of Hayley, is a small triumph but the truth is that a this is a bad tabloid headline come to life and its harmful. ‘No jobs, rubbish! a pep talk from Hayley and suddenly your dreams come true, Poundland has an opening. In agony after a terrible accident, don’t worry if your benefits are cut and your on the breadline you will soon forget about your troubles’. Not only does it patronise those millions of people looking for work in an ever squeezed market, it attacks the weakest in society, the sick and disabled who have the least chance of finding employment.

This is best illustrated by the episode where Kieron, a young man on disability allowance, has his benefits cut after he was found to be ‘faking’ a serious back injury by one of the pep talk team. Now call me cynical but I always thought you needed extensive medical training and a few years working with patients before you could decide whether someone was ill or not, a bad neck tie and lipstick just doesn’t seem like enough.

With virtually no questions asked of A4E,  the private company involved in Benefit Busters or how much value for money we the tax payer are getting for this scheme, as opposed as to the old system, this is more like a  informercial for A4E than a documentary. Given that it is claimed A4E receive up-to £I94 per client per week and they have a limited amount of success, even in the program several clients failed to stay in work, more stringent questions should have been asked about the methods of this company.

Is it right that Emma Harrison, the companies founder, has become a millionaire through other peoples unemployment? If you make money from people being out of work can you be trusted to find them a job? Is Hayley the person to rummage through peoples deep-seated psychological problems?

I just wonder what Channel 4 will sink to next- ‘The poor and disabled, how  they bring it on themselves’.

For a further critique of Benefit Busters visit The Metro

To read criticism of Benefit Busters by a local charity visit  Fife Today

For further information on our Poverty and the Media Project and to view our workshops please visit our Project Page.

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Rowntree Report blows ‘lazy poor’ myth out of the water

A Guardian article that draws attention to the fact that the ”Majority of children living in poverty have at least one working parent” is based on the Rowntree Report ”Ending Child Poverty in a Changing Economy”. The report shows that over the past decade, the number of children with parents with ‘in-work poverty’ has grown as the majority of children in poverty have working parents. The current projections, however, show a partial reversal of this by 2010, with 54% of children in poverty being in non-working families. An overall projected fall in child poverty due to rises in benefits and tax credits means that the number of children in poverty with working parents is projected to fall by 20–30 per cent between 2006/7 and 2010/11. However, the number in poverty without working parents is projected to fall by only 5 to 10 per cent.

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Repossession, Repossession, Repossession

ITV’s new program Repossession, Repossession, Repossession focuses appropriately on people whose lives have been turned upside down by debt in the most dramatic fashion by the loss of their homes.

Following the lives of a family, a glamour model, a gambler and most interestingly Jamie an ambulance driver, it attempts to explain how these people got into a mountains of debt. Although the program lays some blame on banks and financial instituitions, it still focuses on individuals ‘spending sprees’ as the real reason their homes repossesed.

As Gary Hoffman, group vice-chairman of Barclays, rather checkily explains: “People binge eat, they binge drink, sometimes they spend, sometimes they binge borrow and what I encourage, what Barclays encourage, is for customers to talk to us when they have a problem.”

This from a man whose bank has lent millions pounds to those on low-comes and made a large fortune out credit card repayments.

The biggest question in this program should not be why are people are spending so much more than they earn? Or have people become too greedy? But why are public sectors workers like Jamie, who carry out essential services such as driving ambulances, earning so little they rely on debt to get by?

When will there be a program asking vice-chairs of Banks why they ran up so much debt they require billions of pounds of government bail outs?

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Workshop feedback

The Pepys estate and Marsh Farm workshops took place in early August. We hoped to discover what people from the estates felt about poverty in the media and how people (such as themselves) are represented in the media and TV. The people from each estate vary in culture and background  (some are born into poverty and others have had it imposed upon them by circumstance).

At the Pepys estate, we had 4 participants. One of the most prevalent topics was on an article that emphasised postcode prejudice. Another popular subject of debate was the TV documentary “The Towers”. All of the participants were horrified at the inherent implications of both the article and programme.

At Marsh Farm, we had more people attend (8).  This time, with a larger group, we discussed general poverty issues as well as some interesting specifics. One such topic regarded the different types of poverty (financial poverty, spiritual poverty or emotional poverty).

At the start of each workshop, the participants were given a tutorial on how to set up and use the camera/film equipment. After this they considered relevant questions (for example: “what does it mean to be poor in the UK?” and “how does the media represent it?”). Then they took it in turn to interview each other.

Below are some comments from the participants regarding the workshops:
‘It gave me a chance to voice my opinion which I wanted to do for a long time’

‘It was an opportunity to hear what people from Marsh Farm had to say about the state of the area’

‘I found the technical side filming interesting’

‘Learning how to use the basic of the camera was good, so if I ever wanted to learn how to use the camera in the future. I have the basic knowledge’

‘It was good because we were able to put our views across that don’t always get across’.

‘The interviews reinforced my existing opinion’

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Is exclusion from education exclusion from representation?

According to a recent article in the Guardian, ‘only 176, or just over half a percent, of nearly 30,000 pupils who got three As at A Level last year were eligible for free school meals’.

If these statistics are correct, it  indicates that the poorest in society are still not accessing higher level education.   You cannot attend a good university, in most cases, if you do not have good A Levels.

What affect does this have on the media?

If you do not go to University, what chance do you have of working at the BBC or one  of the mainstream newspapers? And if none of the poorest social groups work in the main stream media, what are the chances of a fair representation of this social group?

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