How The Other Half Live, 7 Days on the Breadline, Secret Millionaire: what do they have in common?
All these recent TV series look at aspects of poverty in the UK today. Their approach – to contrast the lives of very wealthy people and very poor people – might not be to everyone's taste, but for TV viewers who do not come into contact with poverty themselves these shows are a reminder that poverty exists in the UK today and affects a lot of people.
Aside from these series and a handful of one-off documentaries, how often do you come across media coverage of poverty in the UK?
And when you have seen coverage, how often have you seen words and phrases like 'scrounger', 'sponger' or 'benefits culture'? Do you ever get to read or hear the views of people actually experiencing poverty?
The stereotyping of people experiencing poverty was one of the issues that inspired JRF, the Society of Editors and the Media Trust to produce Reporting poverty in the UK: A practical guide for journalists in 2008, with an updated version published in 2009.
The guide highlights the dilemmas journalists face when reporting on poverty, provides an overview of poverty in the UK today, gives examples of how some journalists have tackled the subject and offers guidance and further resources.
The motivation behind this work is to raise awareness of UK poverty among journalists and help them to report on the subject fairly and authoritatively.
Feedback on the guide has taken our work on reporting poverty in two exciting new directions.
In autumn 2009, JRF launched a website to help journalism tutors, trainers and students to understand the issues and sensitivities involved in reporting poverty in the UK. We plan to keep this fresh by regularly adding new material, including films.
And the learning from Reporting poverty has travelled further than we anticipated. We were delighted to hear that the European Union is developing a reporting poverty guide for journalists in all 27 of its member states.
If you spot any examples of good media coverage of poverty, please tell us about it.