[9/25/18] – Inequality and Media Representation

A large gap exists in societal equality today, even here in what’s termed the “Global North,”— the economically affluent countries predominately within the Northern Hemisphere. Race, socioeconomic status, gender, and sexuality are gaining more media attention, but the representations are sometimes helpful to the cause, and sometimes detrimental—even when they might intend to do good. This week focuses on the news surrounding a high school student who was not allowed to play for his football team after it was discovered he was homeless. Included articles will also look into perceptions and portrayals of poverty and homelessness.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Inequality and Media Representation


As the debate [on economic inequality] gears up, it’s important to understand some basic facts about how inequality is measured, the trends over time and how the U.S. compares globally. Here’s a “5 Facts” primer.”

“Ideas can and do change the world,” says historian Rutger Bregman, sharing his case for a provocative one: guaranteed basic income. Learn more about the idea’s 500-year history and a forgotten modern experiment where it actually worked — and imagine how much energy and talent we would unleash if we got rid of poverty once and for all. Here he argues that poverty isn’t a lack of character, but of cash.





  • Writing: How have you seen poverty and/or homelessness portrayed in the media?
  • Debate: Is it the responsibility of the media to portray poverty/homelessness in a particular way? Revisit the second Washington Post article for some discussion of how the media can portray these issues.
  • Poll: Which of the following do you believe to be major contributing factors to homelessness in your country? Check any that apply.
    • Drug/Alcohol Abuse,
    • Refugee/Immigrant Status,
    • High Costs of Living,
    • Financial Crisis,
    • Bad Luck,
    • Escaping Domestic Violence/Abusive Situations,
    • Personal Choice,
    • Mental Health Issues,
    • Bad Money Management,
    • Natural Disaster,
    • or Laziness.
  • Short Answer: Do you think that homeless people are responsible for their situation?


Current Events Quiz

A D.C. high school football player has recently had his sports eligibility questioned over his ___?

  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Political affiliation
  • Sitting during games

Despite being barred from playing with his team, Speaks was offered ___?

  • A college scholarship
  • To play for another school
  • Free Twinkies™ for life
  • A new life in Brazil

In a recent survey, which political party most agreed “that the government can’t afford to do much more to help the needy”?

  • Rastafarians
  • Libertarians
  • Democrats
  • Republicans

What percentage of Americans polled agreed that “poor people ‘have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return”?

  • 44
  • 32
  • 77
  • Hike!

The news media’s approach to reporting on homeless people can cause ___, which increase public support for policies that make it difficult for the homeless to pull themselves out of poverty and get off the street.

  • Joy
  • Glee
  • Disgust
  • Confusion

Leave a Reply