Economic inequality is a topic that impacts almost every area of a news organization’s coverage, including education, crime, health care, sports and housing. It affects members of every community, no matter their socioeconomic status.

Over four months, a group of 17 seniors at the Missouri School of Journalism spent a semester researching this topic and developing “Cover Your Gap,” an online guide for journalists to improve their reporting on economic inequality.

The guide includes in-depth explanations of how to define economic inequality, and features statistics and data detailing the upward trend of inequality, interviews with economists and inequality experts, an analysis of past media coverage of economic inequality and ideas for incorporating this kind of coverage into any newsroom.

“Cover Your Gap” also offers suggestions on how journalists can structure their coverage depending on newsroom size and capabilities, as well as unique ideas on how to incorporate coverage into existing reporting areas such as sports, education and health care.

Economic inequality has grown in the U.S. since the late 1960s. Net worth of households in the top 20 percent increased by $61,379 from 2000 to 2011, while net worth of households in the bottom 20 percent decreased by $5,124, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Four hundred people in the U.S. have more wealth than half the population, according to Forbes. These two statistics help point out the gravity of economic inequality in this country. Additional data and statistics can be found on the website.

The online guide is divided into sections to help journalists learn more about the issue:

Regardless of a news organization’s staff size or resources, economic inequality is a topic that should be accurately reflected in coverage. By using the “Cover Your Gap” guide, journalists can help their communities understand economic inequality and its effects on citizens’ lives by producing better and more informed coverage.

Meghan Eldridge Hatcher  
 
Guest blogger



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