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Professors criticize biz media for lack of labor coverage

August 7, 2009


A panel of journalism professors criticized the business media for its declining coverage of U.S. labor unions and labor-related issues.

“Labor is no longer a regular area of coverage,” said Bonnie Brennan of Marquette University. “Labor reporting is nearly extinct.”

The panel occurred Friday in Boston at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communicagtion annual conference.

Brennan said that current labor coverage is fragmented, superficial and lacks content. She referred to the recent stories on the increase in the minimum wage, which focused more on the harm the increase could cause on the economy rather than the loss of real dollars that minimum-wage workers have suffered in the past two decades.

“Labor issues are rarely considered newsworthy in the traditional press,” said Brennan.

John Trumpbour of the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, agreed with Brennan, noting, “You’d be hardpressed to find a column related to labor.”

Trumpbour noted that most coverage of labor strikes and issues focus on how it affects the consumer and rarely addresses workers. He said that recent coverage of the decline of the U.S. auto industry blames organized labor for most of its problems when many other factors are also to blame.

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