OLD Media Moves

Where has the labor reporting gone?

June 7, 2006

The Toronto Star’s Antonia Zerbisias wants to know what has happened to labor reporting, specficially in Canada, in a column, in relation to the recent strike that stranded tens of thousands of commuters in the city.

Media columnist Zerbisias wrote, “The media have abandoned labour as an exclusive, and expert, beat.

Antonia Zerbisias“Because we have no people dedicated full-time to covering labour, cultivating contacts the way an automotive reporter nurtures connections or a Parliamentary correspondent maintains sources, there’s no ‘go to’ person for workers, or union or city officials with a tip.

“And so, everybody gets ‘BLINDSIDED.’

“Understand that there is no certainty that a labour reporter would have had the inside scoop on last week’s walkout.

“And to be fair to the Star’s transportation reporter Kevin McGran and city hall bureau chief Vanessa Lu, they did have a line deep in a story on May 25: “The union had threatened an illegal strike over the new maintenance staff schedule, which kicks in Sunday.”

“But it was easy to miss.

“There could have been, um, a better way. Fulltime labour reporters might have spent time not just with the top union and city officials but also with people on the shop floor or behind the wheel.

“Oh sure, we have had ‘workplace issues” reporters who write about how to get along with the boss or colleagues, but those are little more than lifestyle or management stories.

“It’s not labour.”

Couldn’t agree more. When 12 percent of the U.S. population belongs to a union but few newspapers have a full-time labor reporter, there is something wrong. Read more here.

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