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NBC Ups the Ante on Economic Woe, Profiles Sacramento 'Shanty Town'

Even with our economic troubles, things are not yet as bad at the Depression-era with its unemployment level of about 25 percent. But that didn’t stop the “Today” show from drawing the comparison with a “modern day shanty town” near the “railroad tracks” on March 9.

Correspondent Chris Jansing reported from a tent city in Sacramento, Calif. that NBC labeled a “shanty town” onscreen. The only thing missing was a Woody Guthrie song.

Historic photographs of Depression-era “Hoovervilles” flashed on the screen as Jansing narrated, “These images so hauntingly reminiscent of the iconic photos of the 1930s and the Great Depression. This is a modern-day shanty town.”

After several “haunting” photos, an image of the “modern day shanty town” appeared in black and white before it was colorized – an unsubtle attempt to persuade viewers that this is a second Depression.

Jansing interviewed Jim, a construction worker of 30 years, who said living in the shanty town was the “bottom of the barrel.” While Jim’s residence in the tent city may be shockingly different from his life while he was working, Jansing didn’t explain that things were still much worse for people living in “Hoovervilles.”

One woman matched the dramatic expectations laid out by Jansing, described life in the tent city as resembling “frontier days.”

Jansing concluded her report by ominously intoning, “Dinner is simmering in a pot made out of a coffee can. Soup from water, potatoes, onions, canned tomatoes. You’re left to wonder what tomorrow will hold for the people here and how many more will arrive.”


But Jansing’s was not the first network report on modern tent cities. “CBS Evening News” broadcast a similar story in November of last year. BMI also exposed the media’s insistence that the economy was heading for a Great Depression with its Special Report: America’s Great Media Depression.