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Old 08-24-2005, 06:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Pretending to be homeless?

There is an article in my local paper written by a new journalist (I think he's about 25, looking at him) and he is writing a series of stories. In the true fashion of investigative journalism, he is immersing himself into the story.

What is he writing about? The plight of the homeless.

You read this correctly. This guy is going to pretend he is homeless for X number of days, hang out with homeless people, hear their stories, and then write some good quotes down and sell them to me.

I am pretty upset about this. I don't think it is ethical, and the fact is, HE IS NOT HOMELESS. HE IS PRETENDING. HE CAN GO HOME WHEN HE WANTS. If things get bad, he can just call the paper and they will pick him up.

Now, granted, the whole "Black Like Me" thing is not original, and has been done at every angle. I have never heard about this angle though.

What do you TFP'ers think about this? Is this moral? Ethical? Can one possibly experience an environment if the whole thing is a charade?

edit: Okay, I read more... this guy has already done it, and is telling it like it is the present.
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Old 08-24-2005, 06:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the "Black Like Me" angle is a valid method of an outsider trying to understand another culture. It all depends on how you treat the subject.

I'd read his articles but I would rather read some work by people who are actually homeless.
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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That does not bother me its a story and he is trying to get a different anlge, seems pretty come now. Its the effing suburban/middle/rich kids that pretend to be homeless and panhandle for money because they think its cool. Kids with there tommyH clothes and cellphones, ipods on there hips saying to me "sir can you spare some change so i can get a coffee". They probably have more money in there pocket than i do! All dress in nice clean clothes. I will give them money but I make them earn it. I ask them math questions and make them dance and shit. gives me some entertainment while I wait for the bus. I usually get told to eff off but hey if they really needed the money....

side note, my friend who is a bit of ass, but a lovely guy all the same. When he gets asked for money by people who actually could use it he asks them questions like, 4x4=?, what is the captial of canada...etc If they get the questions right he tells them there smart enough to get a job and to bugger off. But if there wrong he gives them the cash.

sorry to thread jack
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's just an anthropology thing- you immerse yourself in whatever you're studying in order to learn more about it- problem is that just by you being there you're changing the enviroment that you're studying, so the results aren't necessairly accurate.

Personally, if he was doing it for sensationalist means, I'd be offended, but if he did it in order to educate and raise awareness about the homeless, then I applaud his efforts.
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian1975
side note, my friend who is a bit of ass, but a lovely guy all the same. When he gets asked for money by people who actually could use it he asks them questions like, 4x4=?, what is the captial of canada...etc If they get the questions right he tells them there smart enough to get a job and to bugger off. But if there wrong he gives them the cash.
I'm glad to see there are still people with compassion and understanding in the world. He should be lauded for his commendable and obviously ethical behavior.

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Old 08-24-2005, 09:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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What? He sounds like a swell fellow.

Yeah, I'm going to go with the majority on this one. It just depends on how he deals with the subject matter.

If I want to read a story about what's life really like on the streets, then I want the guy who has been there for 5-6 years to tell me, not the kid who bravely faced the cold night for two whole weeks.

The methods are a bit disingenuous, but if it raises awareness even the tiniest bit, then it's perfectly fine.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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a reporter in my home town did something similar to this for one day years ago. he stood at different populated intersections with the "sign." he was disguised. he used two signs: one that said something along the lines of "please help, need food or money, homeless, God Bless" and another that said "need money for more alcohol."


The guy came home with over one hundred dollars that day from the alcohol sign, and 10 or so dollars with the homeless/God bless sign. Interesting.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by mystmarimatt
I'm glad to see there are still people with compassion and understanding in the world. He should be lauded for his commendable and obviously ethical behavior.


I'll make sure to pass your lovely message to him. Where I use to work with this guy was downtown and he was a smoker, about 1 block away was a homeless shelter, free soup kitchen..etc. Our company donates thousands to these causes, and the homeless come 10-15 strong all day, everyday and sit outside our companies smoke pit and beg, plead,hassle for money. Some ask nicely, some say "give me some fucking money now!" screaming it out. Police were always called to stop this behaviour which could sometimse get aggressive.
I imagine my friend who was a bastard of a man for giving money to most of the homeless who asked nicely, but making the ones who probably choose to be homeless work a hard , hard day by anwering "what is 2+2.". My friend also takes the bus to work and home because he does not have much money himself. My friend was not some well paid coporate raider, he was the custodian. He is also asked daily for money. While at work, while going to and from work. I am sorry that you think it is harsh that he does this. I personally don't like it, but sometimes you do things just to get yourself though the day.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Compare and contrast at your leasure:

http://www.filmthreat.com/Reviews.asp?Id=3556
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BUMFIGHTS VOL. 1: CAUSE FOR CONCERN (DVD)

by Pete Vonder Haar
(2002-08-27)
2001, Un-rated, 56 Minutes, Indecline

You will believe a bum can fight.

I can’t take credit for that tagline. My friend Justin, who brought this modern masterpiece to my attention, gets the kudos. Unfortunately, he has also created an indelible stain on my psyche by smuggling it into my home and putting it in my DVD player.



If you haven’t heard of “Bumfights” by now, you haven’t been paying attention. Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer said it “sets a new standard for the cruel exploitation of damaged human beings.” Howard Stern lauded it on his radio show, causing sales to skyrocket. The National Coalition for the Homeless described it as the “worst form of exploitation we’ve ever seen,” while co-creator Ty Beeson says he’s “glad this tape has brought to life the problems of homelessness.”

While I realize this is supposed to be a review, no examination of this particular DVD would be complete without paying some attention to the publicity surrounding it. Critics of “Bumfights” include members of the U.S. Senate, homeless advocacy groups, and the Las Vegas Police Department. Supporters, unsurprisingly, have been few and far between. We’ve already mentioned Stern (the mastermind behind such uplifting fare as “Homeless Howiewood Squares”), but the only other public statements of support that I could find have came from the creators themselves and Los Angeles homeless advocate Ted Hayes, who gamely offers that at least the creators are “bringing homelessness to the consciousness of America.”

So what’s the big deal? “Bumfights” consists of three types of material. The first is your garden variety shaky-cam footage of two non-bums beating the crap out of each other. Most of these appear to be high school kids fighting in parking lots or outside shopping centers. Strangely enough, this sort of footage makes up fully half of the running time of “Bumfights.” While it’s never clear whether the combatants were paid to do so or merely filmed surreptitiously from behind a parked car, it’s all standard “Best of Backyard Wrestling” kind of stuff. Not much new to be found here.

Second, we have the shenanigans of some of Las Vegas’ finest homeless citizens. Sights like Rufus the Stunt Bum ramming his head into a wall or Donnie the veteran getting “BUMFIGHT” tattooed on his forehead aren’t going to be very shocking to today’s sophisticated television aficionados. Anyone who has seen Steve-O vomit repeatedly in a hotel parking lot on “Jackass” won’t have far to go to, er, enjoy watching Bling Bling smoke some rock and take a nice watery dump on a sidewalk. Images like this or those of Rufus pulling out his own tooth with a pair of pliers may be unsettling to some, but won’t be too much for fans of this sort of thing. There are also a few fights, but not nearly as many as the title would lead you to believe.

Finally, we get to what I suspect most of the uproar is about. In several segments, we see Todd Richard Lewis as Steve Urban (get it?), “The Bum Hunter.” The Bum Hunter’s shtick is to sneak up on a sleeping homeless man – muttering in an Aussie accent about what a “fine specimen” he’s found – tie the man’s legs and hands together, mark him (either with a marker or spray paint), then “release the subject back into the wild.” This might be humorous if the men involved weren’t all obviously completely unsuspecting, but most of them wake up in varying stages of confusion or fear at the sight of a strangely dressed man writing on their faces with a Sharpie while camera lights shine in the background. Some of them even fight back. Crikey!

Want to film mongoloids beating the crap out of each after they’ve gotten all hyped up watching “RAW is WAR?” Knock yourself out because, let’s face it, adolescent idiots will continue to whale on each other while trying to keep their baggy pants on whether you pay them or not. The antics of Rufus, Donnie, and Bling Bling are probably exploitation, but these guys have obviously descended so far into the abyss that buying them some two dollar rock or a bottle of MD 20/20 or a BJ from a drag queen in exchange for severe head trauma almost seems like an act of mercy. Rufus even seems to be enjoying the attention most of the time. And hell, if Mr. Bling *doesn’t* smoke crack and suffer from loose stools on a daily basis, I’d be surprised. The exploits of the Bum Hunter, however, are strictly reserved for those among you who liked playing frog baseball and picking on the retarded kids in school. The creators’ assertions that all parties involved gave their consent rings a tad hollow when you realize the guys set upon by the Bum Hunter couldn’t have signed anything until *after* they’d been terrorized by this jagoff in a Boonie hat.

Will “Bumfights” lead to further exploitation and abuse of the homeless, as some critics believe? Frankly, I don’t know many people who’d go out of their way to harass someone who likely hasn’t bathed in days and/or has possible mental problems. Beating up homeless people was around long before “A Clockwork Orange” made it popular, and wasn’t it just a couple years ago those teenage geniuses filmed themselves doing paintball drive-bys on the homeless? Besides, make a wrong choice and it’s your ass. Rufus is quite the scrapper.

Schadenfreude (delight in another’s misery) and voyeurism are the new cornerstones of American entertainment. Anyone who argues that “Bumfights” makes us more sociopathic as a nation obviously hasn’t been watching “COPS” or “American Idol” lately. The development of something like “Bumfights,” where by using the indigent we can pay less for greater levels of humiliation, is as much simple economics as it is logical progression. It’s what the market will bear, and it gives the people what they want. So laugh it up when “Steve Urban” duct tapes some bewildered hobo’s mouth shut, just don’t come bitching to me when spy camera footage of you taking a leak behind your house shows up on “Best of Backyard Urinations.”
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by brian1975
I personally don't like it, but sometimes you do things just to get yourself though the day.
I guess I just don't consider practicing cruelty a form of "getting through the day." What gets me through my day is a nice meal at lunch time. I'm thankful for that. Taunting a person less fortunate than myself doesn't strike me as a healthy way of dealing with the situation. I'm sorry if I offended you, but I can't look at what your friend chooses to do and light-heartedly chuckle.
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Pan handlers would be a lot more successful if they actually did SOMETHING instead of just sitting there. I don't care what. Do SOMETHING that somehow makes me want to support you. Open a door for me. I believe there is a man downtown that actually does open a door for people as they approach. I'm quite confident that he makes more than the average pan handler.

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If they get the questions right he tells them there smart enough to get a job and to bugger off"
Pretty easy to say. But I don't know a lot of places that will hire someone that has no clothes, no place to stay and is not presentable to the general public.

The following comment is not made out of malice, but out of ignorance - Are there soup kitchens that pay? I assume most are volunteer only.
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Old 08-24-2005, 03:14 PM   #12 (permalink)
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There are actually newspapers put out by homeless people for homeless people, all over the country. My dad knew a genius mathematician, with schizophrenia, who was homeless off and on quite a bit. So, I'm sure there are tons of articles like this out there written by homeless people, which are ignored by the "mainstream" media.


And those guys with the signs, more often than not they aren't really homeless (coming from the homeless guy mentioned above).
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Old 08-24-2005, 03:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A few years (maybe longer) ago, an on air reporter in NYC took to the streets for several days, portraying a homeless person, the only thing she had with her was a hidden camera as she lived among the homeless for a few days... I can't find the stories that she wrote, but I know it was a very eye opening experience for her, while she knew she had a warm bed to go home to-- and a hot shower, while you are in the moment, you don't think of such things...

it was an interesting piece...
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Old 08-24-2005, 03:38 PM   #14 (permalink)
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It depends on how he is approaching it.

If he's going in amongst the homeless guys and saying "hey guys I'm a reporter and I'm doing a story on homelessness and I figured I can't get an accurate picture of homelessness unless I lived like you guys for awhile" then I have absolutely no problem with that. That's not only good journalism, it's sacrificing quite a bit to get the story. Hats off to him.

If, however, he's tricking the homeless people into thinking he's actually homeless,t hen it is a breach of ethics. You only go undercover if you meet certain conditions, among them:

1) There is NO other way to get the story (i.e. undercover expose of the meat industry because if you go and ask the plant manager, he's obviously not gonna tell you he's shipping out contaminated meat)

2) It is vital to the community you serve to get the story. (i.e. exposing the contamination in the meat industry is vital to the community because otherwise they'll eat it and get sick, whereas going undercover as a housekeeper to find out who the mayor is sleeping with is not of vital interest to the community)


In the homeless case, neither of those conditions are met - condition 1 isn't met because you don't have to deceive in order to get the story and condition 2 isn't met because the only community that takes VITAL interest in the plight of the homeless is the homeless community itself, and deceiving the community you're purporting to serve is not only unethical, but stupid.
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Old 08-24-2005, 04:20 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mystmarimatt
I guess I just don't consider practicing cruelty a form of "getting through the day." What gets me through my day is a nice meal at lunch time. I'm thankful for that. Taunting a person less fortunate than myself doesn't strike me as a healthy way of dealing with the situation. I'm sorry if I offended you, but I can't look at what your friend chooses to do and light-heartedly chuckle.
trust me you did not offend me. I was just telling a story about how a friend handles some homeless people. I do find what he does sometimes to be mean, but again i was just telling a story. enjoy your sandwich. mine is an ipod cranked to million.
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Old 08-24-2005, 04:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I am not a huge fan of people who try to be something that they aren't. I remember last year a group of people 'starved' themselves for 2 days so they would know what it was like to live in a 3rd world country. That wasn't cool to me. I also don't think much of people who pretend to be homeless to be trendy either. Anyone that has read Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk will know better.

Anyway, if this guy was posing as a homeless person to actually try to make a difference and help them, then more power to him. Barbara Einrich (sp?) wrote a book called Nickled and Dimed. For this book she went to a few cities to see if she could make it on minimum wage. It was done very professionally and she didn't run home when times got rough. However, if he was doing it for a look at me moment and to talk about how horrible his days were, well he doesn't get much pity from me. As you said, he has a house to go back to.
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Old 08-24-2005, 04:49 PM   #17 (permalink)
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There aren't many (any?) homeless reporters on the beat reporting about homelessness. Is there another way than to pretend?

The New York Times had an article today about a show, a movie, about homeless teenagers in Seattle that I thought was a genious way to present homeless people as present yet invisible.

BigBen asks in the original post if "one (can) possibly experience an environment if the whole thing is a charade?" I think the answer is no, at least not in the first person. I also think that for a story on any kind of suffering, print is a woefully lacking medium. Visual images are necessary for the visceral reation necessary to make the story memorable.

NEWARK - "How does it feel," Bob Dylan wanted to know in the 1960's, "to be without a home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?" His taunting question to a prideful high-flyer brought low became a moralizing anthem for an era. Recently two contemporary artists posed the question again, but to very different rolling stones of a new generation, in "Endurance," a potent multimedia art piece installed at Aljira, the contemporary art center here.

The artists are Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry, a Brooklyn-based youngish couple who have, in a fairly short time, established a solid track record in community-based art. In making "Endurance" they worked with an advocacy organization for homeless youths in Seattle called Peace for the Streets by Kids From the Streets. Through it, they hooked up with two dozen men and women, most white, in their teens or 20's, who became their collaborators.

Most of them were from broken or abusive homes. They lived as squatters in derelict buildings, crashed with strangers and friends, or moved around the city carrying with them whatever they owned. Some panhandled for a living; others sold drugs; a few had regular jobs. Several were active addicts or trying to break a habit. The common experience of homelessness bound them into a loose community, one that grew tight whenever a member died of an overdose or by violence.

The project, as Mr. McCallum and Ms. Tarry conceived it, was straightforward. They asked each of their collaborators to do three things: pose for a portrait photograph, record an autobiographical statement and perform alone in an hourlong video.

The format for all the videos was the same: each person stood for a full hour - occasionally changing positions or having a cigarette - on a Seattle street corner, facing a video camera positioned across the street. At the end of the hour, another person would take the place of the first, in a relay that continued for roughly 24 hours, from dawn one day in August 2002 to dawn of the next day.

Along with the demands on stamina and concentration, standing in place was, technically, an act of civil disobedience. Seattle has civility laws that make standing or sitting motionless for extended periods a crime. But all the participants made it in the collective performance, which many approached as a vigil in memory of dead friends.

The portrait photographs are what grab your eye first at Aljira, because of their size and because of the exotic appearance of their subjects. A few are dressed in sweatshirts and jeans, but most go in for intensively customized punk-grunge-hip-hop ensembles, very "Look at me." By themselves, though, the pictures are of limited interest. They're basically just snapshots, and besides, looking outlandish isn't what it used to be. Suburban kids slumming in the city on a Saturday dress this way.

The video is what makes "Endurance" memorable, takes it beyond alternative-lifestyle anthropology. With simple fast-forwarding, Mr. McCallum and Ms. Tarry have shortened the 24-hour film to two hours, and the one-hour standing stints to five-minute segments. The segments are accompanied by the recorded autobiographies; the subjects tell how and why they got where they are, and how they feel about it.

They speak, often revealingly, about families, truncated childhoods and complicated love, about their plans to change their lives, and their equally determined plans not to change. And as they're talking, you see them on the screen, holding their places as life whizzes around them as day turns to dusk, dusk to night. At first they look awkward and unromantically vulnerable, then substantial and resilient, then admirable - valorous, even.

The most stirring moments come when one person's hour ends in the video and another's begins. The frenetic pace of the film slows as a new person enters with measured steps from the side and lines up face forward behind the person already there: a bulky man behind a slight woman, a short man behind a tall one. Each arrival gently lays a hand on the shoulder of the one already there, and at that moment, the film almost stops, as if holding its breath. Then the front performer, responding to the touch, turns and slowly walks out of the picture.

Only after you watch this passing of energy a few times do you start to figure out what you're really seeing: a ritual dance, a morality play and a mortality play. The story is primal. It's about being singular and at home in the world at the same time, and how difficult, but possible, that is. The homeless people in "Endurance" are living the story. The collaboration with Mr. McCallum and Ms. Tarry gives them a chance to perform it - that's the art part, the distancing and clarifying part - and lets us participate as witnesses.

A smaller version of "Endurance" appeared at Marvelli Gallery in Manhattan last season. But Aljira is a great place to experience it, both because the main street of a once prosperous, now struggling city is right there outside the door, and because there's another exhibition in Aljira's second gallery, a big, vigorous group show produced by the art center's Young Curators Program.

All the work in the show is by juniors and seniors from three Newark public high schools; and the curators who selected and installed it are students, too, working under the guidance of Aljira's program director, Eathon G. Hall Jr. The art is inventive, personal and aware of the world; the student-curators have arranged it adroitly by theme. And that's all I'll say, except to note that one of the themes is love; another is danger; another is home.
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Old 08-25-2005, 05:40 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by brian1975
That does not bother me its a story and he is trying to get a different anlge, seems pretty come now. Its the effing suburban/middle/rich kids that pretend to be homeless and panhandle for money because they think its cool. Kids with there tommyH clothes and cellphones, ipods on there hips saying to me "sir can you spare some change so i can get a coffee". They probably have more money in there pocket than i do! All dress in nice clean clothes. I will give them money but I make them earn it. I ask them math questions and make them dance and shit. gives me some entertainment while I wait for the bus. I usually get told to eff off but hey if they really needed the money....

side note, my friend who is a bit of ass, but a lovely guy all the same. When he gets asked for money by people who actually could use it he asks them questions like, 4x4=?, what is the captial of canada...etc If they get the questions right he tells them there smart enough to get a job and to bugger off. But if there wrong he gives them the cash.

sorry to thread jack

I think thats a beautiful story and I commend your friend for giving money to those who really need it, not to the ones that he sees there is no reason they couldn't get a job. If I run across a bum, I will follow in the footsteps of your friend.

And as far as the topic of the thread, I think its pretty stupid. For one, like many people have said, its over done. If they want to have a good story about a homeless person they should just interview one. I would imagine those who have lived on the streets for years might have a better idea of what its like to be homeless.

Last edited by Xiangsu; 08-25-2005 at 05:47 AM..
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Old 08-25-2005, 06:48 AM   #19 (permalink)
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...If they want to have a good story about a homeless person they should just interview one. I would imagine those who have lived on the streets for years might have a better idea of what its like to be homeless.
Yes, Exactly!! If you want the story, then ask people who have been there. Maybe I am thinking this lazy journalism. We get the "Soldier-for-a-day" folks here sometimes, and it pisses me off, frankly.

Don't walk a mile in my shoes and then tell me what MY blisters feel like. Ask me instead!
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Old 08-25-2005, 07:08 AM   #20 (permalink)
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As for the original point of the thread, I see no problem with this. It's called journalism. It's about gathering facts. And there are definitely things that a reporter could experience, just like a homeless person: for example, other people's reactions to a self-declared homeless person. How your priorities change when you don't have enough to eat or, as part of an invisible subcultured, you can be preyed upon without anyone much noticing. It's about the power of observation vs. just gathering facts by asking questions.

I worked for much of the last few months at a school for homeless children; one of my jobs was driving a van to pick up the kids wherever they happened to arrange to be: at a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, on a certain streetcorner where Mom was parking their rundown RV this week, and so on. The parents weren't always responsible, and sometimes I had to search for them in soup lines, in the shelters (and chase down that RV that wasn't always where it was supposed to be), and in the places where they hung out. (Sometimes I gave up and took the kids back to the school, where we reported the parents Child Protective Services; that usually made Mom or Dad sit up and be responsible). But at any rate, while not even pretending to be part of the scene, I learned a lot just by walking around in it and keeping my eyes open. I don't see any ethical problem in adopting a homeless persona and living in that world for a week or two and reporting my observations.

Of course, if the homeless person makes some important private or personal revelation to an undercover reporter, I would consider that somewhat unethical to use. But an undercover reporter wouldn't have to do that to write a fine story. He or she would just have to observe what is seen, and report on how his or her own mindset was affected by temporary homelessness.
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Old 08-25-2005, 06:21 PM   #21 (permalink)
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what bothers me is you act like those homeless people have no where to go. well they do, there are shelters and such. most homeless ppl have a mental problem, and just dont take meds. but then again this "homeless guy" used to stand outside a riteaide in philly and i swear he made more a day than the store did... foor for thought

...and i bet you he had a nice ass house
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...but if you only add files and you never delete, there's nothing to cause file fragmentation, so pattycakes is correct.
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Old 08-25-2005, 07:56 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBen931
Yes, Exactly!! If you want the story, then ask people who have been there. Maybe I am thinking this lazy journalism. We get the "Soldier-for-a-day" folks here sometimes, and it pisses me off, frankly.

Don't walk a mile in my shoes and then tell me what MY blisters feel like. Ask me instead!
I really don't think you could possibly learn as much about fighting in Iraq by interviewing a few soldiers as you could from a week of convoy duty. Same with homelessness. If a reporter wants to give the real story he needs to know what it is actually like, or as close as he can get.

Further, people, believe it or not, don't always tell the truth in an interview. Maybe the people we see on the streets aren't actually homeless (as has been suggested by several people in this thread). Maybe they all do have huge drug and alcohol problems, or maybe that's a lie we tell ourselves so we feel better about not giving them change. He'll certainly come closer to the truth living among the homeless then just asking them.

I still don't get how this is in anyway unethical. He's not telling the readers that he's a homeless person writing the article. He's telling them he's a reporter who lived on the streets for a few days and then went back to his heated house with running water. Readers can draw their own conclusions about the validity of his account based on these facts (as you have done).

And how the hell is living on the street for a few days "lazy journalism"? Interviewing a homeless person in the comfort of a newsroom would be a hell of a lot easier.
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Old 08-25-2005, 09:12 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakes
what bothers me is you act like those homeless people have no where to go. well they do, there are shelters and such. most homeless ppl have a mental problem, and just dont take meds. but then again this "homeless guy" used to stand outside a riteaide in philly and i swear he made more a day than the store did... foor for thought

...and i bet you he had a nice ass house
20% of homeless people have schizophrenia (this stat is from a psych class I took where we looked at studies about schizophrenia). A lot of the rest I imagine are drug atticts or alcoholics who had trouble getting help for their disease. Although shelters offer a place to sleep and eat, they may not offer psychological counceling for addicts, or the addicts refuse to get help.

Also mentioned in class, most homeless people aren't necesarily living on the street ALL the time. A lot go in and out of housing situations, living with friends, living at shelters, etc.. They don't just live on the street 100% of the time.
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Old 08-26-2005, 02:57 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Here's another link about homeless demographics. I've seen a couple of generalizations in this thread about homeless populations that are biased or outright wrong.

Highlights:

Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.

In 2001, the U.S. Conference of Mayors' survey of homelessness in 27 cities found that children under the age of 18 accounted for 25.3% of the urban homeless population (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2001). This same study found that unaccompanied minors comprised 4% of the urban homeless population. However, in other cities and especially in rural areas, the numbers of children experiencing homelessness are much higher. On a national level, approximately 39% of the homeless population are children (Urban Institute 2000). A 1987 Urban Institute study found that 51% of the homeless population were between the ages of 31 and 50 (Burt, 1989); other studies have found percentages of homeless persons aged 55 to 60 ranging from 2.5% to 19.4% (Institute of Medicine, 1988).

Approximately 23% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2003). According to the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, only 5-7% of homeless persons with mental illness require institutionalization; most can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options (Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, 1992).

Surveys of homeless populations conducted during the 1980s found consistently high rates of addiction, particularly among single men; however, recent research has called the results of those studies into question (Koegel et al., 1996). Briefly put, the studies that produced high prevalence rates greatly over represented long-term shelter users and single men, and used lifetime rather than current measures of addiction. While there is no generally accepted "magic number" with respect to the prevalence of addiction disorders among homeless adults, the U.S. Conference of Mayors' number was 30%, and the frequently cited figure of about 65% is probably at least double the real rate for current addiction disorders among all single adults who are homeless in a year.

The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past decade; families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. In its 2003 survey of 25 American cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that families comprised 40% of the homeless population, a definite increase from previous years (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2003). On a national level, the numbers are higher: the Urban Institute found that approximately 39% of the homeless population are children (Urban Institute 2000). These proportions are likely to be higher in rural areas; research indicates that families, single mothers, and children make up the largest group of people who are homeless in rural areas (Vissing, 1996).

As the number of families experiencing homelessness rises and the number of affordable housing units shrinks, families are subject to much longer stays in the shelter system. For instance, in the mid-1990s in New York, families stayed in a shelter an average of five months before moving on to permanent housing. Today, the average stay is nearly a year (Santos, 2002).

Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness. In a study of 777 homeless parents (the majority of whom were mothers) in ten U.S. cities, 22% said they had left their last place of residence because of domestic violence (Homes for the Homeless, 1998). In additions, 34% of cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 1998). Studying the entire country, though, reveals that the problem is even more serious. Nationally, approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence (Zorza, 1991; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2001).
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Old 08-26-2005, 03:08 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakes
what bothers me is you act like those homeless people have no where to go. well they do, there are shelters and such. most homeless ppl have a mental problem, and just dont take meds.
I can't speak for any homeless shelters except for those in NYC, where I've done some volunteer work. The conditions in most of these shelters are deplorable, if I were ever in the situation where I was homeless, I'd sooner take my chances on the streets or the subways rather than a 'bed' in one of these shelters.

I've never taken drugs either, but I've read enough to know that some of the drugs that are availble for schizophrenia and other conditions that some of the homeless have, are worse than the condition itself, and unless the person is monitored on those drugs, I'm not sure I'd want them taking them.
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Old 08-26-2005, 03:25 AM   #26 (permalink)
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but the government has so many programs to help people that are"down on their luck" as mal said they would raher try to do it on their own i guess
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Old 08-26-2005, 06:25 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I guess my point about the lazy journalism comes from the thread I started talking about the stupid (IMHO) questions reporters were asking during a scrum about the Air France plane crash...

I think that it is dishonest for a reporter to "Walk a mile" and then write the story as if they were a bloody expert, they invented walking...

I think stories are metaphorically like icebergs, where a casual observer sees the 10% on the surface. If a reporter borrows a set of goggles and looks under the water and says "Holy shit, there is a lot more under the surface" then are we to think that the reporter knows every square foot of ice? No, they just looked under the water. What if the most important part was not visible?

Aw shit. I hate metaphors for this reason. I have confused the matter even further.

You guys know what I am trying to say. I think the main thought through these replies is that it is okay, as long as the reporter approaches the subject with good intentions and the right frame of mind, and not like some carnival freak show.
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Old 08-26-2005, 06:41 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBen931
I guess my point about the lazy journalism comes from the thread I started talking about the stupid (IMHO) questions reporters were asking during a scrum about the Air France plane crash...
But see that's your whole problem. You've made up your mind to be mad at journalists no matter what they do. The air france thing, they were doing their jobs. A journalist isn't supposed to hear "no comment" and then immediately stop asking questions. Frankly what they did at the air france story is what they should have been doing every single day in the white house press room.

And if a journalist leaves his comfortable home to spend 2 weeks on the street to try and see what it's like to be homeless, whether you agree that it's effective or not, it is anything BUT lazy.

You seem to have a pretty serious dislike for all journalists, and it seems to be tainting your reactions to ANY stories about them.
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Old 08-29-2005, 07:32 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
But see that's your whole problem. You've made up your mind to be mad at journalists no matter what they do. The air france thing, they were doing their jobs. A journalist isn't supposed to hear "no comment" and then immediately stop asking questions. Frankly what they did at the air france story is what they should have been doing every single day in the white house press room.

And if a journalist leaves his comfortable home to spend 2 weeks on the street to try and see what it's like to be homeless, whether you agree that it's effective or not, it is anything BUT lazy.

You seem to have a pretty serious dislike for all journalists, and it seems to be tainting your reactions to ANY stories about them.
You are absolutely right. I am going to have to look at my perceptions about the journalism industry and understand where the bitterness comes from.

Maybe it has something to do with a reporter killing my father when I was 5.

Just kidding. Seriously though, I think you are on to something. I see things in this world as a little bit more complex than the 30 second sound-bite or the "Expose" peice that most forms of media give.

I also LOVE non-fiction books, that give me hours of in-depth story telling. I should change my attitude a bit, I know. Maybe knowing that I look at things that way will tell me to give these people another chance, instead of writing them off en masse as clumsy, fake and lazy.
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