We’re making poverty a full-time reporting beat

8 Nov

Brian Charles

The gap between the country’s wealthiest and poorest is at its highest point in the past 100 years. The gap between white and minority Americans is far greater. For every $1 in assets held by the average white family, the average black family has 15 cents, and the average Hispanic family has 17 cents.

Poverty in Connecticut has a profound impact on education, health care, crime, housing and economic development. It looms over those issues. It’s why some aspects of them seem unsolvable.

At a recent conference at the UCLA School of Nursing, Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said that in terms of a child’s long-term health and well-being, “exposure to poverty in utero is more dangerous than exposure to cocaine.”

We’re making poverty a full-time reporting beat, and we’re excited to announce that Brian Charles will be joining our staff in that role on Monday.

Brian was recently named Journalist of the Year for Digital First Media‘s mid-sized daily newspapers, partly in recognition of his work investigating a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager for one of our sister newspapers, the Pasadena Star-News, in California.

He is a New York native who graduated from Purchase College with a bachelor’s degree in 2005 and Antioch University-Los Angeles in 2010 with a master’s degree in creative writing. During his time as a reporter in California, he was active as a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and as an executive committee member of the Black Journalists Association of Southern California.

Brian will be based at the New Haven Register, but we expect his work to have a statewide impact and also appear in The Middletown Press, The Register Citizen, Connecticut Magazine and other publications.

He can be reached at bcharles@nhregister.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jbriancharles.

5 Responses to “We’re making poverty a full-time reporting beat”

  1. Elaine Clisham November 8, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Congratulations. I am so totally in favor of this, and look forward to the robust coverage this issue deserves. Not that you need suggestions from me or anyone else, but I do hope you include housing costs as an exacerbator of poverty, not just a symptom. I will pound my spoon on my high chair yet again for more attention to be paid to two key drivers of housing costs: exclusionary zoning at the local level, and perverse tax incentives like the mortgage interest tax deduction (from which I benefit) at the federal level.

    For some good insight into the former, I highly recommend Lisa Prevost’s book “Snob Zones” (in which some towns in Connecticut feature prominently). The latter amounts to a $60 billion subsidy to those who need it least, and encourages over-buying both at the price level and among people who would do better not to own their housing.

    But I rant. Congratulations again on doing this, and best of luck. I’ll be following enthusiastically.

    • mattderienzo November 8, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Thanks, Elaine! As I’m sure you know, one of the biggest factors in the racial asset disparity figures quoted above is home ownership.

  2. Sarah W. Caron November 8, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    I love this news. It’s a very important beat — and one that deserves such attention. Best wishes.

  3. Rooting for JRCCT November 8, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Commendable move, Matt. That should be a huge beat and one that encompasses more than just putting food on the tables and a roof over heads. Unemployment continues to be a major contributing factor in Connecticut, and that unemployment remains considerably larger than the official numbers. And unemployment is largely due to union organization in the state and government regulation (much of which was brought on by union involvement and its heavy influence on Connecticut politics).
    I would suggest partnering Mr. Charles with your Investigative Editor (if that position still exists; haven’t seen but a couple pieces out of her) to tackle the issue at the root of the problem and not just the problem itself.
    And while I have your attention: Could we get some decent business coverage out of your papers? New business announcements are fine and dandy, but there’s so much more to be reported and no one is even scratching the surface of what’s driving — and mostly NOT driving — business and economic development in Connecticut. There are big stories out there just waiting to be told.
    Wish I could leave my name, but my position will not allow me to do so. Just know you have my support.


  1. Why would the New Haven Register take on poverty? | One in Five - December 16, 2013

    […] it’s December, about a month since the Register announced that poverty would be a full-time beat. One in Five Connecticut is our poverty blog, and a easy way […]

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