Pity the poor 20-something – at least that’s what ABC and its partner USA Today seem to want to you to do. The two news organizations teamed up to portray young adults drowning in the “national crisis” of “college loans and credit card debt.”
In the November 26 “World News Sunday” story “Young & in Debt,” anchor Dan Harris talked up the story about twentysomethings “forced to move back in with their parents.” ABC and USA Today each told stories of young men and women facing mountains of debt from school, credit cards and more.
Rather than focus on how self-made those debt mountains were – up to $165,000 in the USA Today story – both reports dwelled on how twentysomethings were “struggling to pay” for their living expenses.
ABC’s John Berman introduced viewers to Todd Townsend, who moved in with his mother because of $50,000 in debt, “mostly from student loans.” “But he's not living there because he wants to,” Berman said. He then explained to viewers the horrors of that choice, including living in two bedrooms next door to one another and even sharing a bathroom. “You share a bathroom with your mother?” asked Berman incredulously.
Berman wasn’t finished. “Moving back home can provide some financial relief; you get free food and laundry. But there are some pretty serious drawbacks.” According to Townsend, who didn’t like to admit he lived with his mother when he met women, “it's not sexy.”
USA Today reporter Mindy Fetterman chose another outlandish example – the story of Heather Schopp, who “amassed nearly $165,000 in student loan debt.” Schopp, who earned a degree in chiropractic health, also owes $9,000 in credit card debt and another $4,000 on her car loan.
Fetterman tried to claim that Schopp’s problem was common. “Like tens of thousands of twentysomethings, Schopp emerged from college and graduate school with so much debt that her transition into full-fledged adult life has been difficult.”
In Schopp’s case, that’s unsurprising, since she owes nearly $180,000 and the costly degree she worked for results in a salary of $44,000 and that counts a part-time job. But average debt for American students is far less than that example. USA Today explained in June that “The average college senior graduated this year with more than $19,000 in debt.”
Schopp’s debt works out to slightly less than 10 times that amount.