Another Case of “Poverty Porn”

A recent CNN investigation revealed that a South Dakota school for Native Americans uses some highly dubious fund-raising practices. As the clip above reports, the school has raised more than $51 million sending out millions of direct mail pieces that claim to report on the rough lives of Native American children. The only problem is, the children the letters come from are entirely made up; there is no “Emily High Elk” or “Josh Little Bear.” Spokespersons for the school (one of whom is wearing a Creighton sweatshirt!) defend their actions by claiming that although there are no such children by those names, their “stories” are still true and represent real-life situations. In the clip, one critic described this sort of phenomenon as “poverty porn,” pulling on the heartstrings of gullible donors using over-the-top marketing techniques and capitalizing on our sympathies for (in this case) Native Americans. As unethical as this is, could we not look at this as just another case of—as Machiavelli would say—the ends justifying the means? Why or why not? Thanks to our colleague Fr. Don Doll for sharing this story.

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One thought on “Another Case of “Poverty Porn”

  1. Heidi W says:

    Truly disheartening. Has anyone confirmed whether or not the President is an alum or just a fan of CU baseball? Seeing that sweatshirt affiliated with this story made me cringe.

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