Enchanting statistic: 1.3 million New Yorkers can’t afford enough food. From the sound of it, the Big Apple could be renamed the Medium Sized Raisin. It’s a lot of people. It’s also an issue which isn’t getting a lot of coverage, anywhere.
According to data from the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, a respectable sized famine is happening in NYC. The Coalition represents 1200 nonprofit soup kitchens, so they’re a front line organization.
The total coverage given to the matter in the New York Times current issue (NY Region) was a luxurious 92 words. The Mean Streets are obviously pretty cheap streets, too. A famine, anywhere on Earth, affecting a million plus people, would get more coverage than that. Getting 20 per cent more people in the same neighborhood looking for food assistance might qualify for a bit of attention, too.
Even the BBC managed to stretch the text a bit, on their article on the same lead. They even bothered to interview one of the coalition’s executive directors.
In fairness to NYT, there are many pages of news involving the Coalition in the past, and much larger articles, some around the 800 word size.
There was a recent article, but not, you'd think, enough to reduce the news value of this situation.
I’m a great admirer of the New York Times, and its normal level of quality. This, however, is hard to take seriously as coverage. As news, it’s a postage stamp, with a lot due on it.
Generally the NY Region page has a lot of real local news. Just not much right this moment, during a Presidential election when one of NYC’s senators happens to be running for the top job. The NY Region page has the “article” (direct link above) as a one line link, near the bottom, if you can find it.
You could certainly make an argument that New York and normality don’t have a lot in common, and never have had, so the priorities might be a bit different. However, 1.3 million people, even New Yorkers, qualify as human beings.
Even by the aesthetically very undemanding standards of US wealth demographics, this is a truly lousy statistic.
Just to make things interesting, the US Department of Agriculture, according to the BBC, says that 12.6 million households “… did not enough food at some point in 2006”.
That figure relates to 30 million people.
It also raises a question: why is the US Department of Agriculture the one producing this information? Did the Coast Guard have other things to do? Or was the FDA out to lunch that day? Or was the Patent Office closed? Or is it just possible this doesn't have an official reporting requirement?
Must be some very advanced level of reporting they do there at
Meanwhile, the topic just isn’t news. There’s no shortage of news sources in New York, either. This is what I found in 0.13 seconds, according to Google:
Food Bank NYC.orgHunger Action Network, New York State.orgFood Bank of Western New York
(Their site’s still under construction, but they cover a few counties.)
These aren’t exactly uninformed people, and the news is right there. They’re also trying to get political attention, and that obviously hasn’t been doing too well, either.
Why? What’s this information doing there, not in the headlines?
The political argument really doesn't wash, because it's everybody's problem, or at least it should be, particularly now, when people have to listen to voters.
Make a bet with you now:
Beyond local level, this just isn't a political issue, and not one single word has been written about poverty, and US citizens are going hungry.