Banishing the Poor, Unemployed and Working Class from the Mainstream Media Implies That They are Worthless

Mark Karlin, Truthout, June 17, 2013–  How often do you come across an article or a television news story that presents a poor person in a positive light?  Or for that matter when do you read about or see a story on an unemployed individual or the challenges of a working class American whose salary is receding as the stock market soars?

Oh, yes every once in awhile there will be a hard luck formula piece of reporting about the plight of the economically left behind – but it’s comparatively rare and is often presented in a pitying, patronizing tone.

In short, if you are not a member of the economically made, political or corporate elite, you generally don’t appear in the news. You are voiceless, faceless. The reality is that you are not news; your existence is hardly worthy of note, with the obligatory exception of an occasional “gee it’s tough to live like this” profile of a “welfare mom” or person unemployed and looking for work for three or four years.

Otherwise, in urban areas, the only regular stories you see about the poor is the knife and gun coverage of violence, particularly on weekends, particularly on local television news.  These video accounts of weeping relatives, blood-stained crime scenes, and eyewitnesses only serve to reinforce stereotypes of the urban poor, particularly minorities. It’s voyeuristic catnip for suburbanites and the well-to-do who gain comfort in their racial views being reinforced by tawdry and sensationalistic “news delivery systems.”

Let’s face it, corporate mainstream news doesn’t – in general — adequately or appropriately recognize those with low or no incomes as having a stake in society or anything to contribute in discussions of public policy.  As far as economics is concerned, it appears that the only persons entitled to speak about financial policy options are those of the privileged class, and particularly those who have been enriched by the current system (including politicians).  Add to that at the ever present class of “journalistic punditry,” who if they are on national television (or major market local television stations) de facto belong to the entrenched wealthy.

Just look at unions.  Some union members are well into the middle class, but even labor gets short shrift by the corporate mainstream media.  Why? Many reasons, but one of the big ones is that the owners of news “machines” in America are generally not keen on unions.  They cut into their media conglomerate profits.  So why promote the union viewpoint?

But there’s another key point to remember.  News that relies on advertising for revenue and profit – which is almost all the news media (although Truthout/BuzzFlash are an exception because we accept no ads) – are shaped as conduits for advertisers to deliver to a defined market.  And guess what? Poor and low income people don’t have the money to make them a desirable advertising audience (with some exceptions) for big media. So why write articles about them in the corporate media?

They won’t deliver advertisers, after all – and the well-off don’t want to read about them for the most part.  The poor, the unemployed, the working stiffs are best left under the carpet – out of plain sight.

Read More: Truthout

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