Article Comment 

Our View: The poor next door




Sometimes, it must appear that the media demonstrates a particular zeal in delivering what is rightfully considered "bad news." It is a perception that we understand even though we object to that characterization. The role of a newspaper is to bear witness to the things that happen in the communities we serve, whether the news is good or bad.  


Beginning Sunday, The Dispatch is publishing a three-part series on a topic that might, at first blush, fit the "bad news" category.  


"The poor next door," reported by Dispatch intern Andrew Hazzard, is based on recent studies that indicate the entire Golden Triangle is classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a "poverty area," which is defined as any area that has a 20-percent poverty rate or higher. Lowndes County has a poverty rate of 25.7 percent. Oktibbeha County has a 34.2 percent poverty rate. Clay County, meanwhile, has a 24.3 percent poverty rate. 


Sunday, we will lay out the realities of poverty in our communities and discuss the implications of poverty not only for those for whom it is a part of daily existence but for those of us who are only indirectly affected by poverty. In Monday's edition, we will put a human face on the subject by telling the stories of those who are currently working to escape -- or have escaped -- the cycle of poverty that is often prevalent in poor neighborhoods. Their stories are important, both as an example to be followed and to help understand the struggles along the way. In Tuesday's edition, we will look at how our communities are trying to address the issue of poverty. We will look at the various programs designed to attack these issues. Do the programs work? Are they coordinated? What programs are needed? What can be done at the legislative level? How do we make our voices heard among legislators?  


Our motives in producing this series of stories is not to simply point out that we are "on the bottom" of yet another list, but to examine the causes, consider the possibilities and stimulate conversations about how we can meet this challenge. It is our hope that this series will also drive home the point that we are all victims of poverty, either directly or indirectly. And if we are all victims, we all have a vested interest in doing our part in a thoughtful, effective coordinated effort to fight this very important battle. 


We do not suggest that we can, in three stories, offer a comprehensive understanding of the problem of poverty in our communities nor provide all of the solutions. 


But we do hope it inspires thought and motivates the community to take an active role in the fight. 


The bad news is that poverty is a reality in our community, no matter where we live. 


We also can do something about it. 


That's the good news.



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