I found this response from Dan Ariely to a question he received from a reader quite interesting. Here was that question:
I’m a journalist at a small newspaper serving a community that is largely non-white and low income. I proposed doing a story about the environment, but the editorial board is concerned that this topic won’t resonate with our readers. How should I proceed?
Here was Dan’s response:
The perception that Americans of color and those with low incomes care less about the environment than white Americans may be common, but it is both patronizing and false.
In a 2018 study, researchers asked Americans how concerned they were—and how concerned they thought a variety of other people were—about environmental issues. Most respondents thought that young people, white people, and women were the most worried about the environment. But in reality, Latino, Asian, Black, and low-income Americans reported being the most concerned.
(I have to admit to being surprised at such results. If you want to think about why Latino, Asian, Black, and low-income Americans reported being the most worried about the environment, then pause for a second before reading the next paragraph, to see if your reasoning matches what the researchers found)
Dan’s response continues:
Why might these communities be particularly concerned about the environment? To begin with, they are disproportionately likely to live in neighborhoods with high levels of pollution, little green space, and high concentrations of waste sites. Daily exposure to environmental risks may raise awareness and concern among Americans of color and those with low incomes.
So your editorial board is most likely wrong. To help such a story resonate with your readership—and to correct misperceptions around the issue—you might consider reporting your story in a way that reflects the ethnic and economic diversity of those who are concerned about the environment.
The results make sense to me.
I think most of us tend to be primarily concerned with the issues and problems we face each day.
If we face uncertainty about where our next meal will come from, that is probably on our mind 24/7. Issues such as the dispute in Ukraine are likely not something we would spend a lot of time thinking about.
If we have a sick relative whom we are caring for, that person becomes the focus of our world. Concern about whether a movie theater is going to be opening again is likely given little to no consideration.
So yes, it stands to reason that if Latino, Asian, Black, and low-income Americans are faced with environmental-related issues every day, such issues will be of primary concern to them. An individual not dealing with such problems on a daily basis might care about such issues, but likely not with the same deep concern as people who do have to deal with such concerns as part of their daily routine.
So I agree, such an article should be written by the reporter, not only to make people aware of the environmental issues but to also highlight who is most affected by such environmental issues.
*image from Dreamstime