REPORT: Print Media Shrug Off Economic Inequality

››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE & CRAIG HARRINGTON

Over the past three months, major print outlets throughout the country largely failed to discuss rising structural inequality and poverty in the United States while reporting on policies and programs that affect low-income groups.

Structural Inequality Largely Absent In News Reports

Structural Inequality And Poverty Discussed In Only 19 Percent Of Articles. From June 1 to August 31, the major print outlets analyzed for this report published 456 articles that provided substantial discussion of policies and programs that have disproportionate effects on lower income groups. Of the total number of articles, only 88 -- roughly 19 percent -- mentioned rising inequality or poverty in the United States.

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Deficiency In Noting Structural Inequality And Poverty Spread Across Outlets. Of the 12 print outlets analyzed, only two -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Boston Globe -- mentioned structural inequality or poverty at a rate greater than the group average of 19 percent. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution mentioned inequality in 24.4 percent of its coverage on policies and programs affecting low-income groups, and The Boston Globe mentioned inequality in 28.6 percent. The Chicago Tribune and The Denver Post mentioned structural inequality the least, accounting for only 6.4 and 4 percent, respectively, of each paper's total coverage on policies and programs that have disproportionate effects on lower income groups.

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Methodology

Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of articles appearing in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Charlotte Observer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Miami Herald, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from June 1 through August 31.  We identified and reviewed all articles using the following search terms: (low wage) or (low income) or (inequality) or (poverty) or (middle class).

Media Matters only included articles that had substantial discussion of policies and programs that have disproportionate effects on lower income groups. We did not include letters to the editor.

We defined articles that discuss structural economic inequality or poverty as those which directly address the disparity in economic gains between high- and low-income individuals.

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