Saturday, July 19, 2008

Media Blind Spot: Public's Trade Concerns

For each item I name, please tell me how important it will be in your vote for president this year.” Pollsters for the Washington Post and ABC News put that request to a national sample of registered voters, and went on to name 17 “items.” Foreign trade (or a synonym, such as globalization) was not among the 17 topics.

I found that strange. The article reporting the poll results on the front page of the July 16 Post also ignored the topic. The second headline over the article said: “Economy Remains the Top Concern.” Indeed, 92% of the respondents rated “the economy” as either extremely important or very important.

In a story on its political blog, Caucus, a day earlier, July 15, the New York Times reported the results of its own poll, this one co-sponsored with CBS News. Its July 15 story, headed “Iraq Still a Dividing Line,” did not cover a question the pollsters asked of registered voters, “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” The answers, available on the Times Website, ranked “economy” as the most important. Again foreign trade or an equivalent term was not on the list of choices, 24 in all, presented to voters. {The Times drew on the same poll findings for a front-page political story on July 16 devoted to the Obama candidacy and the racial divide.)

These four media giants -- The New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS News, and ABC News – have a heavy influence on the news agenda of other media, small and large, across the nation. Therefore, they have a special responsibility to report public opinion fully and accurately, especially on issues that may affect the outcome of a historic election.

On the face of it, the Post and the Times failed to do so in these two polls. Why?

The designers of these two polls may have lumped the public’s concerns about trade into the broad “economy” category. If so, that is careless, at best. The media themselves don’t cover free trade as part of their reporting on (say) “The #1 issue – the economy,” as the CNN series on this theme is called. (According to a new CNN poll, 51 percent of Americans consider foreign trade "a threat to the economy.")

By email and phone, I asked the Post and Times to explain the omission. I suggested the possibility that free trade might have been lumped into the economy category. No response.

David Sirotta, author of The Uprising: An Authorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, describes the fair trade movement as “one of the most encouraging transpartisan developments of the last few years” – a movement “ignored by the media (and, frankly, much of the blogosphere).”

No such blindspot here. But what explains the media’s?

Print Page

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!