Tag Archives: The Portland Mercury

April Fools: Homelessness and the media in PDX

The Willamette Week exposed Street Roots for attempting to rob homeless people of 25 cents a paper, while the other 75 cents was being used to go toward the undeserving poor. The newspaper published two articles this past year that uncovers SR working with people without homes who are dealing with addictions and people dealing with mental health issues. The paper’s in-depth reporting on the subject matter also determined that SR works with people with disabilities, determining that SR could no longer be trusted to work with people, unless they were in fact, down and out.

The Portland Mercury along with lefty activists accused SR and the Business Alliance of moonlighting after dark and plotting to destroy all that was good downtown. The Mercury also editorialized that SR was probably to blame for most of the laws created by City Hall targeting homeless people. “They’re advocacy efforts this past year have just sucked,” said the Mercury’s British News Editor. “I have two sources that tell me they’re sleeping with the enemy.”

The Oregonian’s publisher told readers that the newspaper’s lack of coverage on why Portland’s homeless population was growing due to the lack of housing was balanced this past year with in-depth reporting on how 21,000 pairs of socks, 1,400 toothbrushes, and 1,000 new coats were going to help the homeless in the region.

The Portland Tribune profiled chronic homelessness and panhandling in an in-depth article that found many individuals living outdoors actually want to be homeless, voluntarily giving up everything they own and their kids to sleep on the streets. One business owner told the Tribune that the homeless people panhandling in front of his store told him that, “Living with rats in the rain under threat of violence and disease was fun,” and then asked him for a dollar to buy drugs.

The Portland Business Journal ran five news stories this past year on homelessness — all after the Business Alliance called and asked them to cover the subject matter. Portlanders were able to read the first half of all five articles, but due to an online subscription model and an overpriced product, readers determined the last part of the articles didn’t really matter much.

An independent consulting firm looked at homeless coverage by TV news stations in Portland over a one-year period. The firm found that the news stations combined ran a total of 37 news stories on homelessness from January to December of 2009. The firm also found that no one inside the city proper actually paid attention, and even fewer polled said they cared.