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News for the Consumer Class

April 1st, 2013 · No Comments

LAHer-Ex11Apr70_insfrntIt is no surprise to readers of newspapers – or readers of this blog — that newspapers contain little coverage of labor and working-class economic issues. Although I’d hesitate to say there was ever a “golden era” of labor coverage, there was a time not too long ago when newspapers regularly reported on the activities of labor unions – contract negotiations, strikes, and community activities.

The shift away from more active labor reporting came in the late 1960s, when the newspaper industry started to employ the tools of the growing consumer research industry to target “quality” demographics – that is, more upwardly mobile readers, with higher education and higher incomes.  Although we like to think of journalism as a democratic practice, by the 1970s it served only a select group of consumers.

We can track the consumer shift in newspapers in Editor & Publisher, the leading trade journal where newspapers placed advertisements to sell their audience to national advertisers. The main commercial message of U.S. newspapers in the mass-market era of pre-1970s was simple: they had lots of readers who earned good wages in America’s booming industry and could buy advertisers’ products. >> READ MORE of my guest blog in Working-Class Perspectives

Tags: Consumerism · Journalism · Journalism Ethics · Labor News · Media Economics · Newspapers · Politics · Working Class

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