Don't Journalists Have Any Labor Leaders In Their Rolodexes?

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me that if you're going to run an article in which the Governor of Wisconsin attacks unions over a budget dispute in which tens of thousands of protesters (and a strong majority of the public) -- stand with the unions, you should probably quote a union representative in response.

You won't find a union representative quoted in today's Washington Post article by Michael Fletcher. Or in this March 5 Post article, also by Fletcher, headlined “Thousands turn out for latest protest against Wis. governor's budget plan.” That article reported that “Tens of thousands of demonstrators again descended on the state Capitol in Wisconsin … The protests … followed massive demonstrations the past two weekends … the demonstrations … have drawn throngs of rank-and-file union members and supporters.” But not one such union member was quoted.

I don't mean to pick on Fletcher. Those articles are just two recent examples of the glaring lack of union representation in national media coverage of budget disputes that intimately involve unions. Most famously, the Sunday political talk shows have virtually ignored labor leaders.

This exclusion of labor's perspective from news coverage of labor disputes is extraordinary -- particularly when you consider how the media fell all over themselves to cover the so-called Tea Party in 2009 and 2010 (CNN even embedded reporters with the Tea Partiers.) And let's be clear: The Tea Party never produced anything like what's happened the last few weeks in Wisconsin: Tens of thousands of people engaging in sustained protests in a single location for weeks at a time over specific, concrete grievances, in concert with a walk-out by a group of elected officials that has shut down a legislative body.