"Speaking to the people of the Gulf Coast a week ago last Wednesday from Grand Isle, President Obama assured them that his administration would keep focused on the massive oil spill and its consequences," David Carr wrote Monday in the New York Times.

“ 'I am here to tell you that you’re not alone. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind,' he said, but could not resist a sideswipe at the press corps in front of him. 'The cameras at some point may leave; the media may get tired of the story; but we will not.'

"Oops. The press corps in the Gulf had been on the story for more than six weeks, often dealing with a tight-lipped disaster communications apparatus that seemed to be in the hands of BP rather than the government.

"NBC anchor Brian Williams pushed back, politely but firmly, in an interview last Thursday with Mediaite, the media news site.

" 'I got a kick out of President Obama saying that even when the cameras go away, we’ll still be there for you,' he said in a telephone interview with the Web site. 'That ain’t the way this is going to play out. If anything, the cameras being here have compelled outside interests — government, BP — to kick this into another gear. With all due respect, the president might have had his scenario off by 180 degrees.' . . . ”

Buffalo Columnist Tries To Live on Minimum Wage

"After taking this week’s Poverty Challenge sponsored by the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, I still don’t.

"But as a middle-class worker, I do know I won’t be so quick to judge low-income people when they make some choices that others can’t comprehend. The one thing the challenge drove home was the structural dimensions of poverty and the sheer hopelessness that can overwhelm those caught in its grip.

". . . The challenge invites people to try for two days to live on the budget of someone mired in poverty or, if that’s too daunting, someone living on the minimum wage. The alliance used government data on the costs of housing, health care, transportation and life’s other expenses and computed a budget. Taking the minimum-wage challenge, I had to live on that budget while bringing home $1,036 a month after taxes.

". . . Seeing things through that lens doesn’t excuse bad decision-making, but it does make it more understandable: What do you do when whatever you do is hopeless?

". . . As we drove through blighted areas on the Lower West Side, walled off by the Niagara Thruway, or East Side neighborhoods destroyed by the Kensington Expressway, the impact of policy decisions that deprived neighborhoods of investment and jobs became clear.

". . . Similarly, it will take deliberate policy decisions to reverse Buffalo’s blight and put people in a position so that they don’t have to throw up their hands and feel there’s no way out."

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.