Social Security Lessons for Media from AARP Members

This week the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) scolded the media for their coverage of Social Security in a piece called How the Media Has Shaped the Social Security Debate.  Trudy Lieberman writes “For nearly three years CJR has observed that much of the press has reported only one side of this story using ‘facts’ that are misleading or flat-out wrong while ignoring others.”

The piece helps underscore a key reason AARP has launched You’ve Earned a Say: to raise the voices of Americans of all ages and get Washington politicians and the media to listen to what Social Security means to them.

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Our members and other older Americans know the importance of Social Security to our retirement security.  The points CJR makes in the article demonstrate why now more than ever Americans need to tell the politicians and media operating behind closed doors in Washington what matters to us.

Take Betty from Kentucky who says “Social Security and Medicare are investments in our future, our children’s future, and our grandchildren’s future for years to come.”

Or Frank from Texas who says “With Social Security, if they were to cut it, I’d lose 56% of my income…We have already paid for it so we’re entitled to it.”

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Those are just two examples of Americans talking about how much Social Security matters to them and why we need to strengthen the program.  Members of the media have attended dozens of “You’ve Earned a Say” events around the country and we hope to see them at many more because they’ve been getting to see firsthand how important these programs are to Americans and sometimes they’re learning about what this article says they don’t know.

As a final example take AARP Ardmore President Barney Allen from Ardmore, Oklahoma.  In a television interview he told Oklahoma television station First 12 News “Social Security is self-funded.  We pay in and draw that money out and the government has borrowed money from us, a lot of money, and we just want to be paid back for that.”

If the media keep listening to AARP members like Betty, Frank and Barney, CJR might get to write a new piece detailing the media’s more accurate coverage very soon.