, , , , ,

Just when you think that the Establishment Media is almost totally hopeless when it comes to reporting on the economy, someone new (at least to me) comes along to restore at least some faith in Big Journalism.

The reporter in question is Sarah Kendzior, and one of her latest pieces stunningly explains one of the biggest frustrations experienced by so many Americans when they read its coverage of economic issues: why major new organizations keep talking up an economy that has failed so much of the nation’s population.

Kendzior’s work has documented and quantified an explanation that many of us have long suspected but couldn’t demonstrate conclusively: “For one thing, pundits and politicians are unlikely to work in the regions where most Americans live.” More specifically, journalists are found in those relatively few big American cities that have, on the whole, enjoyed surging prosperity even as most of the rest of the country has experienced sagging fortunes at best.  And their isolation from Main Street America keeps growing.  As Kendzior has found:

In 2004, one out of eight journalism jobs was based in New York, Washington DC, or Los Angeles—a high number even for that era. By 2014, that number had changed one of every four, even as the cost of rent in those cities rose astronomically, and the number of unpaid and low-paid positions exploded. This has led to journalism increasingly becoming an occupation of elites, with the reporters of the rest of the country underrepresented and the concerns of their communities underreported.”

This piece by Kendzior makes another economic argument that deserves a lot more attention: The geography of prosperity looks set to become even more highly concentrated going forward. Why? Because the yawning and expanding gap between living standards outside these islands of affluence and living costs inside them is preventing talented American from moving to cities and utilizing their abilities to the fullest. To quote Kendzior again:

[T]he talent of the heartland is wasted as job-seekers from these regions remained trapped. For millennials, many of whom are saddled with massive college debt and are expected to complete unpaid internships, the situation is particularly dire. Moving to the city where their field is located can prove impossible without family wealth. Careers are ending before they have the chance to begin.”

Kendzior’s analysis makes clear that this disheartening trend will be generally neglected by this elite media, too. But her own work encouragingly indicates that such developments won’t be ignored quite so completely, and I’m looking forward to more of it.