In journalism right now the labor market is so enfeebled as to barely exist. At least 15,500 journalism jobs were lost last year alone, according to Erica Smith of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And the pace of job losses is quickening, with nearly 10,000 lost in the first four and a half months of 2009.
Fellow journalists, welcome to the take-it-or-leave job market, the result of decades of economic policies reported on with little-to-no skepticism and mostly timid questioning, and one heretofore populated mostly by workers outside reporters’ social circles and class. Television news, especially cable television, has a major blame here for relying heavily on a narrow range of mostly white, male, affluent sources with economic ties to those who benefited from these economic policies, especially the talking heads supplied by the Big 12 ideological marketing organizations of the business-right, including the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and their like.
Welcome to globalization rules written not by all of the competing economic forces, but primarily by the financier class those donations are vital to both parties on Capitol Hill and whoever is in the White House. Welcome to a world that would have Adam Smith tearing his hair out. Welcome to a world where classic competitive market theory is described as a liberal idea, making it therefore suspect to many.
Assuming the accuracy of Browning’s article, a major publisher has decided that it can ignore market economics without being punished by the market. Dean Singleton has proven to be a formidable businessman. He may well be right here as a matter of his investment interests, that pay-for-performance is no longer necessary due to market failure, and so giving only average pay will enhance his wealth instead of ravage it.
Instead of looking for hopeful signs in each day’s stock market results, a modern version of reading tea leaves and animal entrails, perhaps some journalists will join Uchitelle in asking the fundamental questions about the labor market, not just for journalists but for all workers outside the executive suite. Who infected it? What has been the course of the disease? What remedies exist? What are the relative costs and benefits of applying different treatments?
And along with that it would be good to see a great deal of hard reporting on the consequences of letting an economic cancer metastasize.