Define yourself: Contribute to the Broke in Philly language guide

For reporting on economic justice in the nation’s poorest big city:

Throughout 2018, Resolve Philadelphia and its media partners are producing Broke in Philly: a collaborative reporting project on economic justice. Our editorial goal is to provide in-depth, nuanced and solutions-oriented reporting on this critical issue. We have a responsibility to help change the narrative, and have developed a language guide that all partners have agreed to strive towards. While there is no uniform vocabulary, this outlines a starting point for which words to use—and which to avoid.

Reporters working on Broke in Philly stories will ask the people we are reporting on how they describe themselves, or how they would like to be described in the article or broadcast. We will give people the power to define themselves -— and then follow through by using that language in our stories. When referring to those we did not have a chance to ask, here are our guidelines:


• economic reality
• economic hardship
economic success
• economic mobility
• economically thriving
• trying to break out of poverty
• struggling to break out of poverty
• experiencing poverty
• neighbors/community


• the poor
• poor people/person
• a low income person
• fallen on hard times
• economically disadvantaged
• citizens/poor citizens
• the needy, or in-need
dependency (relating to welfare)

We can’t guarantee to get this 100 percent right; change in habits and behaviors take time.  We also expect our reporting to unveil new and better ways to tell these stories, and this guide will evolve with those developments.

What do you think?

Here’s your chance to make a difference. Tell us what you think we got right, got wrong or just plain forgot:

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