How journalism can eradicate urban child poverty

Finalist essay on urban child poverty

Imelda Izzuddin (UITM Shah Alam)
Dark apartment stairway
21 April 2019

Poverty is an issue every living person in the entire world knows about; something unpreventable. Even in what seems to be this rich and developed country of ours, poverty prevails within Malaysia. We would think that poverty rates would be rising in the rural areas of our country, but little do we know, poverty rates are also on the rise at none other than the urban areas.  This furthers the problem and introduces us to a new global phenomenon: urban child poverty. In Malaysia, the urban poverty rate among children is 11% according to surveys conducted. If this issue gets out of control, the rates may increase. Urban child poverty is when children who should have rights and access to education, food, healthcare and a strong household to live in is deprived of it. It occurs in every part of the world. Whether we are aware of this issue or not is another question that is yet to be answered. How are we, as the entire nation, going to address and combat this issue to make our country a better place to live in? A lot of support structures or even non-governmental organizations can be seen trying to help these children to find the light in the dark. But how far can they go? We know now that writers or journalists, especially good ones, have a way of getting to their readers. Some of the majority who understands the writer’s voice in any issue or story they publish will trigger some sort of change in them to do what they feel is right. With that, how can journalism eradicate urban child poverty in our country?

Before we think journalism can change lives in one night, let us all remember that even Rome was not built in a day. Journalists are not superheroes who can save everything at one time. Nor are they magicians who can make things better on the spot. But because they are journalists, they can write and truly inspire. And so, they will write from any angle they desire, or even as anyone they want to be and tell their story with conscience. Be it writing as a superhero, or even as a magician. So let us ask ourselves again how the journalism profession can help do away with urban child poverty. The word “how” however, is not the question. The question is, if it “can”. And I believe journalism can and will. The only key to this matter is that all journalists must stay real in writing and reporting their story. In this case however, journalists have to write in a way to get readers to understand what urban child poverty really is. As mentioned earlier, urban child poverty is when children are deprived from the access and privileges to education, food, healthcare, secure household, and even security. How can writers eradicate this problem? How are writers going to address this issue and bring it into the centre of attention?

Without a doubt, journalists are writers who have power over their readers. Just a few lines written, and readers are captivated by what is read. This is why, to eradicate urban child poverty, journalists must apply a theory into their writing called the agenda-setting theory. What is this? Most people are not aware of what is influencing them in their daily lives. A lot of people do not know that whatever is being portrayed or published in the media has an agenda behind it. Whatever their intentions and goals are, every single story or news that are directed to the audiences are after all to influence. Hence how exactly can journalism eradicate this issue? It is first to accentuate the importance of understanding what child urban poverty is, where we went wrong and what we can do to reach out. Journalists must focus their writing around the issue to emphasize how serious whatever these children are going through. Let readers know that children living through urban poverty do not have access to their basic human rights and that this could be dangerous for their wellbeing. If journalists were to write a factual or featured story on this issue, it has to be frequently written and published so all the readers can regard this issue as something critical and worth addressing about. That’s the agenda that journalists should concentrate on spreading.

Through their writings too is where journalists can help readers recognize what the roles of local governments, support structures or even non-profit organization in eradicating urban child poverty. After all, informing is one of the many objectives of writing. They can help readers understand further that local bodies and organizations are sometimes helpful in reducing urban child poverty. How so? Local governments like Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat or even Yayasan Chow Kit are out there and are set to help those anyone in need, especially children. We are very fortunate to have bodies like this and it is very imperative to acknowledge their act of goodness. They reach out to these unfortunate kids and help them by nurturing them and even supplying them with basic necessities for survival.  Their stories or news have to be moving, informative and resourceful too, as it is one of the heaviest topic to be discussed. Inserting data and facts in their story may also help readers understand how heavy this newly arise problem is. By inserting statistics as well, it will convince readers that change is absolutely needed. Journalism in this matter must always report stories or even facts that are true and reliable so readers or people who have the intention to help can be better informed and be better equipped with knowledge. The story on this issue has to be prominently told as well to capture and retain the attention of readers so they are constantly reminded and always in the know.

There is so much to know about urban child poverty. The rapid growth, development and modernization of technology and the current speed of internet today has made everything instantaneous in a way that everything can be accessed at the tip of our finger. This is where online journalism can make its grand debut. Almost everyone we know now is online, be it through their smartphones or computers. Traditional media is also transitioning into something that is more quick and concise for us to access. Creating infographics, mind maps or even eye-catching information to be posted online can also be a way to call and reach out to the audiences online. Journalists can make their online experience a life-changing one. After all, the internet isn’t only used for entertainment purposes, right? Journalists must make sure everything they intend to deliver to the audiences about urban child poverty must also touch their lives. Everything there is to know about urban child poverty is all over the internet. It is which information that gets to the audiences that matters. Journalists must work their magic. They play an important role in this, believe it or not. Everything they write and report on this issue must come from a human angle with a little bit of human touch to ingrain the truth about what should be done. Real-feature or volunteerism stories will enlighten readers about how it truly is with urban child poverty.

Every story a journalist writes regarding urban child poverty must prove that it can eradicate this issue entirely. How so? It is by writing a story, or news that can go back to the people, and readers themselves. Journalists should be vocal when writing and speak volumes regarding this matter. Once a reader finishes reading, it should end in a way that it has ignited a fire within them to fully understand and offer a helping hand. It is clear that the journalism profession can in fact change lives of the readers. This will encourage change within an individual and hopefully activate a cell within them to get up from bed and make a difference for those in need at the outside world. The community however has to come together to offer a helping hand to these children. This issue can be curbed if the plan was thoroughly executed such as aids from the government, non-profit organizations or even schools. Any child enduring their days under urban poverty deserves the best start in life. Which is why for a start it is vital to help them get access to one of the many quality services to ensure their growth and wellbeing is uninterrupted. The change starts from within. In hopes that journalism can change the way readers see and think about the things, it should also have the ability to motivate and also inspire. What better way to change if not from reading something that sparks something inside you.

Imelda Izzudin is a second year student in Bachelor of Mass Communications (Hons) Public Relations at the Universiti Teknologi Mara, (UiTM) Shah Alam. She loves reading novels, writing narratives and visiting art shows as this empowers her. In university, Imelda is all about nurturing healthy competition to encourage sharing among friends. Imelda will continue to accomplish many more things with determination and grace.