Talking with the Press about the Working Class

This reminds of being dumbfounded when I was reading a book by Lynn Vavreck, who is normally a very astute observer of elections. The passage that shocked me was “most people learn about the state of the economy from reading/watching news.” (paraphrased). That was news to me: both from personal experience and researching how different income cohorts have measurable differences in perceived inflation (food and energy prices, normally excluded from CPI, figure especially heavily in perception of the economy by the working class), that kind of blind spot is hard to fathom. But I suppose self perpetuating upper professional class must do what a self perpetuating upper professional class must…

Working-Class Perspectives

Over the last three months, I have done interviews with and provided assistance to dozens of national and international reporters about various working-class issues, including the American Dream, manufacturing, education, the recession, displaced workers, local and international trade, and, of course, white working-class voting patterns.  A few weeks ago, George Packer, staff reporter for The New Yorker, was a visiting scholar at the Center for Working-Class Studies, doing research on book project, and he spoke as part of our annual lecture series. So, obviously, I have been thinking a lot about journalists and reporting on the working class.

Packer titled his lecture, Do Journalist Care About the Working Class? His response was basically, “No!” He argued that the American public is more concerned about celebrity and success stories that often reinforce the American Dream.  While job loss affects people of all classes these days, readers seem more interested in…

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