A conversation with Dorothy Tucker, President of the National Association of Black Journalists

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

After George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police this summer sparked protests nationwide, multiple news outlets found themselves embroiled in controversies over insensitive and racist coverage of the unrest.

The Philadelphia Inquirer headlined a story “Buildings Matter Too,” about the impacts of Black Lives Matter protests on city infrastructure. The ensuing uproar led to a staff walkout, a public apology and the ouster of a top editor. The New York Times published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton supporting military intervention to shut down demonstrations. Days later, the Times’ editorial page editor James Bennet resigned. …


A community’s store of “social capital” can determine how well it rebounds from adversity.

Cities Rise and Fall

As one of the nation’s largest producers of steel, the city of Youngstown, Ohio, helped drive American prosperity in two of its most consequential eras — during the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century and after World War II, when the nation assumed its place as an economic and industrial superpower.

In a neighboring state, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, also rose to global pre-eminence as a manufacturing powerhouse, in this case for the breadth and quality of its furniture production. …


Low unemployment rates mask soft spots in the job market, especially among rural Americans and minorities.

For the last several months, Republicans have been resting on the laurels of positive job growth and low unemployment — proof, they say, of the Trump economy’s strength. In March, the nation’s official jobless rate stood at 4.1 percent, the lowest it’s been since the peak of the Great Recession and a level that many economists say is at or approaching “full employment.”

Certainly on paper, the labor market looks to be nearly as tight as it was during past expansions, such as during the boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. …


Research finds same-day voter registration and vote by mail to be the most effective strategies. Robo-calls? Not so much.

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Despite the all-consuming attention paid to presidential elections, U.S. voter turnout is among the worst in the world compared to other advanced economies. The Pew Research Center reports that America ranks near the bottom among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (31st out of 34), behind such places as Turkey, Slovakia and Poland.

States have launched a variety of experiments to increase voter turnout, such as same-day voter registration, robo-calls and vote by mail (see Vote from Home, Save Your Country). And since 1996, voter turnout in presidential elections has risen slightly, from 58.4 percent in 1996 to 61.8 …


The surprising Nixon-era roots of the federal government’s largest public housing assistance program.

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Earlier this year, the U.S. House unanimously approved legislation modernizing the decades-old federal housing voucher program for low-income Americans — once better known as “Section 8.”

In an era marked by unrelenting gridlock, the House vote — 427 to 0 — was a rare showing of bipartisan progress on a typically highly divisive issue: how to help Americans in poverty. As passed by the House, the measure would streamline the administration of housing vouchers by state and local authorities and make it easier for recipients to benefit. Praised by advocates and policymakers on both sides of the aisle, the bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. …


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One striking aspect of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent speech on the economy was its dire portrayal of the state of U.S. manufacturing.

Trump’s remarks conjured up a bleak landscape of shuttered factories and collapsing industrial might. “[T]owns once thriving and humming are now in a state despair,” declared Trump, citing the heavy loss of American manufacturing jobs over the last several decades.

Trump is right to say that U.S. manufacturing has changed dramatically. But his portrait of the industry is also overly negative and one-sided. The true picture is more complicated — but also more hopeful.

The number of manufacturing jobs has grown since 2010.


A new crop of start-ups hopes to out-compete payday lenders

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New federal rules are aiming to crush payday lenders. But is it enough?Earlier this month, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed new rules to regulate payday lending — the business of offering high-cost short-term loans to Americans on terms that many consumer advocates consider predatory.

Once finalized, the CFPB’s rules will likely greatly thin the ranks of payday lenders, whose storefronts once outstripped that of McDonald’s and Starbucks nationwide. …


60 percent of Americans have struggled with a financial emergency in the last year, says new research from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Could you weather an unexpected financial shock — a broken bone, a leaky roof, a trip to the hospital or a layoff at your company?

Financial emergencies like these are distressingly common for American families, according to new research by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In a survey of more than 7,800 U.S. households, Pew found that 60 percent of Americans have experienced a financial shock — such as a major home or car repair, an illness or a pay cut — within the last 12 months. The median cost of these emergencies: $2,000.

Moreover, the impact of a single financial shock can reverberate through a family’s finances for months. Pew found that nearly half of households who suffered a financial crisis still hadn’t fully recovered their finances six months later, and more than half found themselves “destabilized” by the shock — having trouble making ends meet. …


For House Democrats at least, it isn’t easy being purple.

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Winning or defending a seat in Congress is more expensive than ever. And among Democrats at least, it’s especially pricey for Congressional candidates who run as “moderates.”

In 2012, self-described “moderate” Democrats in the House — members of either the New Democrat or Blue Dog coalitions — directly spent an average of $1.91 million on their campaigns, according to an analysis of data from OpenSecrets.org by Republic 3.0. In contrast, members of the liberal Progressive Caucus spent an average of $1.24 million on their races.

Including outside spending, New Democrat and Blue Dog Coalition campaigns cost an average total of $5.1 million in 2012, versus $1.99 million in Progressive Caucus districts. …

About

Anne Kim

I write about politics, economics, poverty and opportunity. Author of Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection, from the New Press.

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