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THROUGH JAUNDICED EYES: How the Media View Organized Labor by William J. Puette

THROUGH JAUNDICED EYES: How the Media View Organized Labor


Pub Date: June 25th, 1992
Publisher: ILR Press

A dissection of media bias against organized labor that makes newspapers' Labor Day editorials about the decline of unions sound like good press. In a slow read that painstakingly details how newspapers, TV, movies, and even cartoons lampoon and trivialize the world of organized labor, Puette (Labor Education/Univ. of Hawaii) shows how the media distorted labor unrest in Hawaii and made a nonstory out of the United Mine Workers' strike against Pittson Industries in 1989-90. The fundamental issue in the Pittson strike was the company's attempt to roll back health-insurance protections for mine workers. That a strike centering on an issue of such national importance did not attract a great deal of media attention supports Puette's point that the media have a pronounced antiunion bias. But, unfortunately, this is the best the author accomplishes here. In individual chapters on each branch of the media, he simply chronicles abuses in the treatment of organized labor, and then tries to fit those abuses into a theoretical construct about how each medium works. Similarly, his chapter on organized labor's response to its treatment in the media contains more litany than analysis. What's missing here is some deeper examination of how it has come to pass that the vast majority of American workers have no connection to organized labor. Puette makes clear that the media's negative portrayal has contributed to this state of affairs, but he has little to say about labor's own contribution.