3 Reports/Videos: Earthquaking!

Media and civic activism. It can make a HUGE difference in the lives of millions of impoverished!

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Huge crowds, the hugest ever, to protest the election of the worst president ever. Photo Diane Nilan

It’s not often I get heartened when perusing my daily intake of news. And what catches my eye might be considered quirky by most. Sure, Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post Super Bowl ad, as expensive as it was, garnished ample praise for upholding the role of media in this truth-challenged world, but other lesser noticed stories are, well, earthquaking. Like these:

1. Sex Assault and Health Issues — The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) released a report in October, which I learned about through Medium’s Stephanie Watson last month. She pointed to the connection between sexual assault and serious health problems.

Awareness of sexual assault and harassment has been steadily increasing since the #MeToo campaign entered the public eye in late 2017. But despite a greater awareness of assault, there is still a huge stigma surrounding those who experience it. Survivors say they often feel accused of lying or blamed for causing attacks by being drunk or wearing revealing clothing. This kind of shaming harms not only reputations but also the health of survivors.

The JAMA report points to serious physical, as well as emotional, harm done by abusers. Women, and men, in poverty and not, are devastated by abuse, but tend to be given short shrift when exhibiting physical and mental symptoms caused by the abuse. A major re-think needed!

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Not all families in Hawaii enjoy these blissful moments. Photo Diane Nilan

2. Change Hawaii — Having visited Hawaii in October to film a documentary on youth/families experiencing homelessness (view here, 19 min.), I was intrigued to read about this latest effort to address skyrocketing poverty in paradise.

We think of Hawaii as utopia, but for over half of its residents, it’s closer to hell. From the article,

We face many significant problems but the biggest may be that half of Hawaii’s people are struggling financially today despite a booming tourist economy and full employment. Even with frugal spending, they cannot save money for future financial needs regardless of whether they work two or three jobs. That struggle affects every aspect of their lives and their children’s lives.

The article, first of 6, describes key economic factors that create difficulties for over half of the families and individuals struggling to get by in this vacation mecca. The story includes actions being implemented. #ChangeHawaii

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Louisiana reflects poverty as well as oil-riches. Photo Diane Nilan

3. Louisiana — I’ve spent plenty of time filming and exploring Louisiana over the past dozen years or so. My focus has been on homelessness and poverty, 2 issues a-plenty in the Pelican State. So I was gobsmacked to see this NYT story, and even more so to watch this video on how activists are trying to put the brakes on corporate robbery that has long impoverished millions of Louisianans. If successful, they’ll be able to channel funds to schools and other civic purposes.

Together Baton Rouge and its sister organization, Together Louisiana, argue that the industrial tax breaks starve local schools and governments of badly needed funds and leave them unable to lift a state mired toward the bottom of national rankings on education, crime and infrastructure. In Baton Rouge, one in four residents lives in poverty.

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Media coverage, when accurate, brings justice. Photo Diane Nilan

Media gets bashed, rightfully so, for plenty of reasons. But in the above cases, we are well served. A related aside — parents of children murdered at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lavished praise — and a strong recommendation for a Pulitzer award — on reporters of the Sun Sentinel for their dogged coverage of the abysmal system failures that led to this tragedy.

This was the most avoidable mass murder in American history, enabled by a sheriff’s office and a school district characterized by administrative incompetence so staggering and moral corruption so deep that it took the Sun Sentinel the better part of the year the uncover it all. But long after the national media moved on to the next controversy, local reporters here kept at it.

Media — those really concerned with truthfully searching out and reporting the truth — can make all the difference in our world. Thanks to all who have dedicated your lives to truth. May you continue to shine a light!

Founder/pres. HEAR US Inc., gives voice & visibility to homeless families & youth, ran shelters, advocate, filmmaker, author, 15 yrs. on US backroads.

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