To Reporters, Editors, Producers, and Anchors:
As we celebrate the passage of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) through the U.S. House this past week, we acknowledge the media’s critical role in informing the public about this complex and historic effort to make their government work for them. The omnibus nature of this bill and the policies therein present many challenges to newsrooms hoping to present a clear understanding of its contents and potential impacts on your readers, your communities, and the economy at large.
The role of federal programs supporting and investing in families remains heavily stigmatized, particularly along racial and gender lines, and this stigma fuels misinformation and misrepresentation about who benefits from public programs. With this history in mind, we urge you to approach your coverage of these programs mindful of the media’s distinct legacy of worsening public bias against federal investment programs and the people who need them.
As a matter of clarity, we request that in your future coverage of the Build Back Better Act, you more directly describe what is in the legislation, i.e. child care, pre-kindergarten, paid family/medical leave, home- and community-based services, and more (See list below). The research on these care-related investments in creating jobs, making workforce participation possible, and undergirding our entire economy is well-documented.
Notably, terms like “social safety net” are overly broad and mislead news consumers as to the bill’s full impact and the broad range of people and families the bill seeks to help.
When covering the Infrastructure and Investment in Jobs Act, reporters used monikers such as physical infrastructure or directly described the package as “roads and bridges.” The care elements of the BBBA are instead currently described with sweeping characterizations such as “social spending” or “social safety net,” that fail to portray the bill in terms a layperson can understand.
Consider that the care provisions in the BBBA would:
- Boost businesses and our economy, creating much-needed jobs while also lowering household expenses for working families.
- Help parents to find and afford high-quality child care so that the 2 million women who are still out of the workforce have real, affordable care options to support their return.
- Allow people to stay attached to the labor force when they have a new baby or a serious health crisis strikes through use of paid family/medical leave.
- Expand home- and community-based care for people with disabilities and older adults so that family caregivers can stay in the jobs they need to support their families.
Taken together, the Build Back Better policies are a set of long-overdue economic policies that not only recognize and empower the role of women in both families and in our national economic growth but set forth foundational improvements that will make more and better work possible for everyone.
As you well know, language is not neutral. Words, framing, narrative creation, and reporting have a big impact on public discourse, and collectively referring to Build Back Better policies as “social spending” feeds into age-old narratives about class, race, and gender. The inaccurate moniker of “social safety net” as a frame for the Build Back Better Act agenda can be easily replaced by more directly descriptive terms — and we urge you to take that important step.
Advocates of Ozaukee
All Our Kin
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Family Voices
American Sustainable Business Network
Better Life Lab, New America
Birth In Color RVA
Black Women’s Roundtable- Metro Detroit
Black Women’s Roundtable, NCBCP
Broward for Progress
Caring Across Generations
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Center for Popular Democracy
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative
Community Change Action
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
Devine Women Foundation Inc
Faith in Public Life
Family Advoctes, Inc.
Family Values @ Work
Family Voices NJ
Feminist Majority Foundation
Feminists in Action Los Angeles
Futures Without Violence
Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network Speaks!
Health & Medicine Policy Research Group
Health Care Voices
Indivisible Acton Area
Indivisible Euclid Berkeley
Indivisible Media City Burbank
Indivisible ReSisters Walnut Creek
Indivisible San Francisco
Indivisible San Jose
Indivisible South Peninsula
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA)
JDI (Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence)
Justice in Aging
Legal Aid at Work
Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom
Main Street Alliance
Mainers for Accountable Leadership Action
MANA, A National Latina Organization
Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
National Consumers League
National Council of Jewish Women
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Employment Law Project
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Women’s Law Center
Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence
New Beginnings APFV
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Time to Care Coalition
Our Own Wall Street
Paid Leave for All
Paid Leave for the U.S. (PL+US)
Poligon Education Fund
Research 2 Impact
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Small Business Majority
SPAN Parent Advocacy Network
Stepping Stones, Inc.
Tennessee Justice Center
The Children’s Partnership
The Coalition of Labor Union Women
The Womxn Project
United State of Women
URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity
We Demand More Coalition
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Women and Girls Foundation Southwest PA
Women’s Law Project