Tuesday, July 25, 2023

News brownout of the UPS-Teamsters contract

This afternoon I opened three major national newspaper apps, starting with the Wall Street Journal, whose lead story was today's UPS contract agreement, which came just in time to avert a commerce-crippling strike.

The "liberal" New York Times and the Washington Post buried the story the far below the top of the front page.  Above perhaps the most significant labor story of the year, they posted articles about libraries banning books, immigration policy, legacy admissions at Harvard, Ron DeSantis's faltering presidential campaign, his feud with Bud Light over transgender issues, a story about a video depicting police violence, and ads for sales of precious metals in conservative media outlets.  In Jeff Bezo's Post, the UPS story appeared below the links to crossword puzzles and other games. 

(Forget about the Boston Globe, which led with no less than eight sports stories; UPS was nowhere to be found.)

Among the stories given more attention by the Times and Post than the fate of 340,000 American workers at a moment when conflict between a rising labor movement and anti-union corporations is on the rise, were also a few items about global warming and international conflicts.  But most of the stories deemed more newsworthy than a rare and perhaps historic win by labor focused on culture war and identity politics. Most striking to me was the elevation of two stories about admissions to elite colleges, something that will impact a tiny elite.

Of course the apps are constantly updating and re-arranging the order of the stories during the day, so a more reliable assessment might be what the print editions look like tomorrow. 

Update: The Print Editions.

In spite of Bezo's being perhaps the most successful contemporary union buster, the Post gave the UPS story the most prominent placement--top left front page, second only to a story about Putin (newspapers almost always put the lead story on the right side of the front page).  Does the editors of the Post have independence from their anti-labor owner?

The Times put the story inside, on the front page of the B section and led with the story about the elimination of legacy admissions at Harvard.

The Journal ended up burying the UPS story on B3, with a promo on page 1.

The Globe put a promo to the story at the bottom of page one and led with two big sports photos, a sports story, and Biden's asylum policy. 

I guess this is not surprising, since, according to one study, 28% of NYT reporters and editors attended Ivy league schools and 52% attended the 29 most elite universities. These folks are part of the tiny minority whose children will be effected by the the elimination of legacy admissions.  But most Americans won't be; only 0.4% of US undergraduates attend an Ivy League school. Meanwhile, 70% of nonunion “skilled and hourly workers” in the U.S. say they would consider joining a union if given the opportunity.

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