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Labor in the Media

Christopher R. Martin


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When labor is in the news media, it reveals – perhaps more than any other subject – the economic, political, and professional conflicts between the practice of →  Journalism and the business of media. The problem of the news media's coverage of organized labor is that the news media are both the social institutions designated to practice democratic communication, and capitalist entities designed to generate profits for their corporate executives and stockholders (→  Commercialization of the Media ; Cost and Revenue Structures in the Media ). As the literature reveals, all too often the news media fail to act as independent storytellers about labor, and instead align their journalism with the generally anti-labor interests of multinational corporations, which often include the news media themselves and their advertisers (→  Advertising ). But news media organizations that serve their own corporate interest risk undermining their greatest asset: people's trust. Kovach and Rosenstiel (2001) argue normatively that the first loyalty of journalism is to citizens, not media owners. Because of the significant stakes for corporations, labor, and citizens, news organizations’ coverage of labor has long invited criticism of the media's credibility and institutional loyalties. The corporate news media's posture toward labor unions is often evident in their own labor practices. For example, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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