Hard Earned is now streaming for FREE in honor of #KTQ50!

As part of Kartemquin's 50th anniversary celebration, HARD EARNED is streaming for free through November 25th. A year and a half after its initial broadcast on Al Jazeera America, this is the first time the series has been available online. In these weeks following the presidential election, when conversations about working in America are more relevant than ever, we hope you'll join us for exclusive 2-week streaming window and invite your friends, family, and communities to tune in as well.

Hard Earned team accepts duPont Award in New York

Hard Earned team accepts duPont Award in New York

A big team from Kartemquin headed to New York City on January 20 to accept the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. Hard Earned was one of 16 projects to receive the silver baton, which is one of the highest honors in broadcast journalism. Watch the award presentation and acceptance speech here.

The award was presented by ABC's Juju Chang, with NBC's Tom Brokaw onstage looking on. Other winners ranged from a local news report about heroin use in Arizona to an investigative story about Russian soldiers in the Ukraine. Read about all the winners here.



Hard Earned will rebroadcast on Al Jazeera America, beginning with the first episode on December 20th at 10PM ET / 7PM PT. The remaining episodes will air in the subsequent weeks, with Episode 2 on December 27th, Episode 3 on January 3rd, Episode 4 on January 10th, Episode 5 on January 17th, and Episode 6 on January 24th.  Each broadcast will begin at 10PM ET / 7PM PT. 


Hard Earned shows real effects of Income Stagnation

Despite data showing a 7-year low in unemployment, wages remain at a standstill for middle- and low-income workers

Earning just $10.50 an hour at Walgreens drugstore in Chicago, De’Juan DJ Jackson, 23, and father of two, struggles to make ends meet, and his story, featured in Al Jazeera America’s “Hard Earned” documentary series, is not unique.

The median income has been more-or-less stagnant for more than 25 years. In 1988, the median U.S. household income was about $52,000 (adjusted). And that’s exactly where it remained in 2013 (the last year for which such figures are available), according to U.S. Census Bureau.

And as groceries, rent and other expenses continue to rise, many Americans are stuck trying to cover spiraling costs without a reciprocal increase in income, limiting opportunities for individuals and families to save up for a home, car or increase their standard of living.

And with times tight, any setback can push a family living paycheck-to-paycheck into poverty or homelessness. Jackson felt the blow especially hard when his home was burglarized, forcing him and his family to move in with his mother until he could save up enough to move into an apartment in a safer neighborhood.

“It was a huge blow when they came in our house and took all of our stuff,” Jackson said.

Ehab Zahriyeh of Al Jazeera America outlines how despite rosier economic forecasts, for many employees in the workforce, an increasing number of those jobs aren’t offering sufficient compensation to sustain a family — highlighting decades of virtual stagnation in wage incomes. Read the full article.

Hard Earned's DJ Jackson is among those who are actively searching for a better job, but facing an uphill battle.

He has two strikes against him already: He’s black, and he’s male,” Jackson’s mom Chantel Jackson said. “He wants to work. He wants a better life for his kids, but it’s going to be very hard for him. Welcome to life.

Go in-depth on unemployment with HARD EARNED's Emilia Stancati

Al Jazeera America's Ben Piven investigates issues surrounding United State's unemployment statistics in this news article that profile's HARD EARNED's Emilia Stancati.  Click here to read the article. 

Allen Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago, compared the standard measure of unemployment to a player’s batting average in baseball, saying that both indicators are “consistently imperfect” over time. “There are a lot of things that don’t ‘count’ in that denominator: walks, errors, home runs.”


"Their stories blow away any illusions about the challenges of trying to make a living in this country. The episodes show them balancing everyday decisions about home, health, work, transportation, and paychecks with decisions about finding stability and growing in professions, faith, and hobbies. These decisions and their outcomes give this series its depth and its strength." Click here to read more.

Hard Earned on Fox News Good Day Chicago morning show

Hard Earned on Fox News Good Day Chicago morning show

Hard Earned, an original new six-part documentary series produced by Kartemquin Films, will begin airing Sunday, May 3rd at 10 pm ET/7pm PT as part of Al Jazeera America's documentary series Al Jazeera America Presents. Ahead of the broadcast premiere, two of the shows stars - Emilia Stancati, and De'Jaun "DJ" Jackson - and two directors - Maria Finitzo and Ruth Leitman - appeared on Fox's Good Day Chicago morning show to discuss the series.  Click here to watch the news segment! 


Last spring, Al Jazeera America announced a partnership with Chicago-based Kartemquin Films (The InterruptersThe New Americans) on a six-part documentary series that will explore the hopes, fears and realities of low-wage American workers. The result, Hard Earned, slated to air beginning May 3, looks at the lives of five struggling families, representing a diversity of races, ages, industries and regions.

Al Jazeera America began conversations with Kartemquin early on—even before the channel’s launch in August 2013—on how to make an impact with stories that dig deep below the surface of major contemporary social issues. The producing team at Al Jazeera America singled out Kartemquin for its renown for finding compelling stories and characters to both humanize social issues and foster a richer appreciation for them. Click here to read the full story