Fighting Child Poverty: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tells the Story of a Community in Need

By Mateos, Evelyn | Editor & Publisher, April 2019 | Go to article overview

Fighting Child Poverty: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tells the Story of a Community in Need


Mateos, Evelyn, Editor & Publisher


One of the most important missions for newspapers is to give a voice to the voiceless. At the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the paper has turned its attention to one of those communities in need of help: children living in poverty.

The result was a series called Growing Up Through the Cracks that "captured the focus on children, the infrastructural issues of the neighborhoods and hinted at the fragmentation of the region's government," said Post-Gazette investigative reporter Rich Lord.

The series launched in January, and it is available in print, online, and as a graphic novel and interactive website (bit.ly/2D8ErrZ). Because each installment of the ongoing series is so detailed, there is currently no set schedule for when each new one will appear.

The idea started in late 2017 when Lord approached Chris Briem, a demographer at the University of Pittsburgh, about communities in distress. Briem suggested child poverty was a good metric and one that had a certain natural human interest to it.

"You really can't blame kids for being born into difficult circumstances," Lord said.

Together, Lord and Briem collected census data, and according to Lord, "worked with that (data in) early 2018 to identify communities with at least 400 people under the age of 18 and child poverty rate of 50 percent of more in a roughly 10-county area,"

Several communities fit the criteria including seven Allegheny County municipalities, three Fayette County municipalities, and one each in both Armstrong County and Westmoreland County. …

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