Citations Needed

Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

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Episode 23: The Media's Grim Addiction to Perseverance Porn


We’ve all seen these feel good segments on the local news. The adorable and resourceful seven-year-old in California who's been recycling cans since he was three and now has $10,000 saved up for college. The Oklahoma community that chipped in to buy a car for a beloved Walmart greeter so she wouldn't have to walk to work in the bitter cold anymore. The “inspiring teen” who returned to his fast food job soon after being injured in a car accident.

No doubt, these are all heartwarming tales of perseverance in the face of adversity, a testament to the can-do spirit of average citizens––but they're also something else: ideological agitprop meant to obscure and decontextualize the harsh realities of poverty, the exorbitant cost of higher education and healthcare, and the profound absence of basic social services in the United States. 

What are the origins of this ethos? Whom does it benefit and, perhaps most important of all, how does the media consistently work to reinforce this "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mythology?

We are joined by Tony Valdés of the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center.


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 2018-01-17  50m