Pop Culture Overshadows Important Issues

The nightly news as well as daily newspapers have turned into gossip columns and evade uncomfortable topics.

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A man sits on a piece of cardboard in Paris, France with nothing but the clothes he is wearing and a cup to collect change in.

Kelly Nugent, Web Editor-in-Chief

In today’s media, more often than not, the leading news story on television, websites and newspapers is related to President Donald Trump or Hollywood. With the spotlight being on trivial issues that do not matter, they take away from what should be on the news. Among the grave issues that need to be discussed, arguably one of the most important is food insecurity in America.

In 2017, the number of food insecure Americans has risen to 41 million, 13 million of which are children, according to The Nation. For the past 20 years, the Department of Agriculture has released a report on the issue of food insecurity in America. The report, which was released on Sept. 9, was not picked up by any news outlets. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and countless others were caught up in the shallow issues that do not matter such as what Trump is complaining about on Twitter or which Kardashian is pregnant.

With an upward trend in food insecurity, the country is moving backward faster than it is moving forward. Mississippi has the highest rate of food insecurity, as of 2015, with 21.5 percent of the population being food insecure. Locally, 15.6 percent of Missouri’s population and 13.2 percent of Kansas’ population is food insecure, according to Feeding America. The first step to fixing this problem is raising awareness. Making people understand how many Americans do not know where their next meal is coming from is vital. Sparking interest and outrage results in action, which results in change.

Typically, attention is brought to this issue solely around the cold, winter months. Although this attention is needed, it is equally as important to emphasize that food insecurity is a year-round issue. Even with the limited attention around the end of each year, it is in the last 90 seconds of the news or the bottom right-hand corner of a newspaper. Families gather around the fireplace to keep warm, enjoy hot meals and listen to or read a feel-good story of someone who was saved by the generous donations of others. While these stories are important to see change happening in the world, they are few and far between. Faces of the starving and homeless never make it on television. They are overshadowed by the rare family who rose from their circumstances. These stories are not shared to encourage change and generosity to continue, but rather as a reward so those who have ever given to a food shelter or volunteered at a food drive feel good about themselves. For most, these kinds of donations and volunteer hours are done so without inconvenience or discomfort. In reality, it is inconvenience and discomfort that is needed in order to develop an understanding of the food insecure that live in every American city.

In contrast to these feel-good stories, those precious minutes on television and limited space on a newspaper page should be used to convey the message that the journey in ending food insecurity in America is far from over. It will take decades to eliminate the problem entirely, but any progress in ending this epidemic is more than welcome.

It will take awareness, action and persistence to end an issue this detrimental, but it all starts with knowledge. News outlets need to choose to report the bad in the world in efforts to reverse it. However, they report the same news every single day for the sake of comfort and security. Beyond the media, individuals can go to a local food kitchen and simply have a discussion with some of the people there. Sometimes, all people are looking for is someone who genuinely cares. If food insecurity was given half the attention celebrities receive, the issue would be as minuscule as the media leads everyone to believe.