October 24, 2008



Barons of mass media
ignore the masses

by Jim Hightower

The MBAs and corporate bean counters who run America’s newspapers these days blame the Internet, fickle advertisers, America’s education system, unions and even you and me — a k a, the “stupid public” — for the ongoing decline in readership. There is, however, one group they steadfastly refuse to blame: Themselves.

Thumb through the typical newspaper and chances are you won’t find yourself in it. Not you personally, but working stiffs, regular folks, the hoi polloi. News corporations are in the business of mass media yet they virtually ignore the masses, which just might be the one reason the masses increasingly ignore newspapers.

Last year, the Washington Post ran a front-page story asking why the public is “gloomier than the economy.” Not a single worker was interviewed! No mention was made about declining wages, lack of health care coverage, busted pension plans or other real reasons that real people might feel a bit gloomy.

Also last year, the New York Times printed a story about the strength of the job market. Corporate representatives were interviewed — but not a single worker. Likewise, the Wall Street Journal did a piece decrying the fact that the promotion of free-trade deals keeps meeting “stiff resistance from organized labor.” Not a single worker or labor rep was asked to explain their viewpoint.

In a study of economy-related articles in major news outlets throughout 2007, the Center for American Progress found that media barons focus on “elite sources” for their stories and ignore ordinary workers. The result is a dangerous, willfully ignorant narrowing of our nation’s democratic dialogue, excluding the perspective of the majority of Americans.

The real bias of the media is not the left or right, but to the thin strata of economic elites at the top of our society. So it's no wonder that the workaday majority is seeking other sources of news.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown— visit www.jimhightower.com


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