Conference | The Poverty Narrative: A Midwest Perspective

The Poverty Narragive logo

In June 2020, the Midwest Mobility from Poverty Network brought together leading journalists and academic researchers for a virtual series dedicated to a deeper understanding of poverty in the U.S. and especially the Midwest.

This series is designed for anyone interested in improving the narrative around poverty in the U.S. – from exploring new storytelling strategies to translating complex research for deeper public engagement.

Watch the series below and get involved to continue the conversation.

The Agenda

Re-thinking the Poverty Narrative

Income inequality in the U.S. hit a record high in 2019, and the coronavirus pandemic has put new strains on our country’s social safety net. More than ever, poverty is a factor on every beat in the newsroom - whether you’re covering city hall, national politics, education, or business and development. This session will cover why it’s so important to get the poverty narrative right, the intersection of race and poverty, and strategies for impactful reporting that centers the experiences of people with low incomes.
Moderated by H. Luke Shaefer

RECAP: Re-thinking the Poverty Narrative: Journalists, academics should highlight who benefits from inequality

How to Tell a Story with Data

As we’ve seen with the coronavirus pandemic, effective integration of data in storytelling can have negative and positive consequences. In this panel we’ll learn about data visualization and how to pair analytics with compelling narrative storytelling.
Moderated by H. Luke Shaefer

RECAP: How to tell a story with data and solutions journalism

Solutions Journalism Workshop

Impactful reporting does more than just identify problems - it identifies how people are responding to problems and evaluates which solutions are truly effective. Solutions Journalism Network will share strategies journalists can use to produce compelling coverage of responses to social problems across the U.S. and discuss the role of academic research in identifying which solutions work.
Moderated by Lauren Slagter of Poverty Solutions at U-M

RECAP: How to tell a story with data and solutions journalism

Understanding Disadvantage in Rural, Urban, and Suburban Places

Disadvantage takes different forms in different places, and context is important when reporting on challenges facing a community and potential solutions. This panel will discuss how poverty plays out in rural, urban, and suburban places.
Moderated by Lynette Clemetson, director of Wallace House at the University of Michigan

RECAP: Understanding Disadvantage in Rural, Urban, and Suburban Places

Where Public Policy Meets Real Life

Coronavirus relief efforts have launched a new tangle of public policies dictating who receives aid and when and how that aid is delivered. In this panel, veteran journalists will share their experiences cutting through the wonky world of public policy to uncover the real-world impact of policymakers’ decisions and the role academics can play in helping the public understand these issues.
Moderated by Elisabeth Gerber

RECAP: Public Policy Meets Real Life

Using Personal Stories for Systemic Change

Sharing the personal stories of people directly affected by poverty can be a powerful way to raise awareness of an issue and spur action. Speakers will share strategies for identifying people whose personal experiences illustrate broader issues and how to share their stories in a way that contributes to systemic change.
Moderated by Kristin Seefeldt

RECAP: Using Personal Stories for Systemic Change

Continuing the Conversation

While the series will come to an end, the conversation about our nation’s poverty narrative is ongoing. Here are some ways you can stay connected:

Visit the Additional Resources Page for experts advisories, research summaries, tips for talking about poverty issues, and more.


Learn more about how our stories and research can shape how policy makers, community leaders, and the public think about poverty.

Questions? Contact Karen Otzen at

Brought to you by the Midwest Mobility from Poverty Network

The Midwest Mobility from Poverty Network is focused on providing rapid response data and analysis to community stakeholders and policymakers who want to enhance economic mobility and decrease poverty.