Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Political reporters for mainstream news outlets are out of touch with rural America, says author

Neal Gabler
Mainstream political reporters for urban-based media have grown out of touch with the rest of the nation, mainly because political journalists are white men in their 40s, while the rest of the U.S, including rural areas, is becoming more diverse, Neal Gabler writes for Moyers & Co.: "A country that is increasingly younger, darker and half female is being reported on by a press corps that is older, whiter and more male. A gaping demographic gulf separates the press from the people—a gulf that undoubtedly affects the kinds of stories chosen and the way in which they are covered."

"And there are other dredges that widen the gulf," he writes. "Although journalists are obviously scattered throughout the country, they are not geographically apportioned equally. As one might expect, the news centers are New York, Washington and, to a lesser extent, Los Angeles. Of the 40,000 journalists in America, nearly a quarter live in these three areas, which is staggering when you think about it, and which certainly skews the news coverage. It also seems to confirm the familiar gripe of middle America that media elites consider most of the country a fly-over from LA to NYC."

The Big Feet—the reporters and pundits who wield the most influence—are also the highest paid, which means many are disconnected with how the other half lives, Gabler writes. "It is very possible that reporters—especially the Big Feet—dismissed (Donald) Trump and (Bernie) Sanders because journalists couldn’t possibly fathom the deep, seething, often unspoken economic discontent that afflicts so many Americans and that has helped fuel both the Trump and Sanders movements. They couldn’t fathom it, perhaps, because they haven’t experienced it. I know because I have."

"When you put their geographical proximity together with their class solidarity, it is entirely likely that MSM reporters will huddle, the way most geographic and economic cohorts do," Gabler writes. "They are more likely to see the same things, attend the same parties and events, mingle with the same people, draw on the same sources and send their children to the same schools, which adds up to their seeing the world in similar ways and reporting the same stories in the same ways. In short, the MSM is not only an elite, it is a kind of economic and cultural clique. And that clique is not us."

Gabler is an author and senior fellow at the Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment and Society. (Read more)

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