Christian Science Monitor Wins November Sidney for Inquiry Into American Poverty

By: Press Release | The Sidney Hillman Foundation

NEW YORK: The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today that Jina Moore, regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor, has won the November Sidney Award for “Below The Line: Poverty In America,” a portrait of poverty as it is measured by official statistics and lived by real people.  

Linda Criswell earns just over $12,000 a year as a full-time childcare worker, but she technically steals fruit from the snack bowl at work because she can’t afford to buy her own. She tracks grain prices to see if she’ll be able to afford meat in the months ahead. Is she poor? She’s poor enough for food stamps, but maybe not poor enough for Medicaid. If you ask Criswell, she’ll tell you that–regardless of what the state says–she lives in a state of continual anxiety.  

According to the official statistics, 46.2 million Americans live in poverty. Yet, many Americans console themselves with the notion that “real poverty” in the United States has been eliminated.  

What does it mean to be poor in the world’s richest country? Is it an absolute threshold or a relative concept? Can you measure it in dollars, calories, or PlayStations? Can any statistic capture intangibles like autonomy and dignity? As a journalist who divides her time between New York and East Africa, Moore knows that even the poorest Americans are rich by global standards, but it’s difficult to argue that Linda Criswell is getting by.  

“Moore’s reporting raises important philosophical questions that cut to the heart of our national debate about inequality,” said Sidney judge Lindsay Beyerstein.    

Wheeling has declined over time with the the loss of jobs from iron and steel manufacturing along the Ohio River. 

Get The Backstory, our Q&A with Jina Moore

Jina Moore is a reporter, producer and editor who splits her time between New York and East Africa. She has been a contract correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and a contributor to Newsweek, Foreign Policy, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Boston Review, and PRI’s The World, among others. Her early human rights reporting was reprinted in Best American Science Writing (2009). She is nonfiction editor at Guernica Magazine and editorial director of the Dart Society, where she edits and publishes the human rights magazine Dart Society Reports.

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