Journalists as establishment stooges

from Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and TechnologyDorothy Nelkin 1987

When journalists do cover occupational health issues they go to official sources rather than to workers. In 1976 a dramatic incident took place at the electric boat shipyard in Connecticut: it was announced that 1200 workers were found to have traces of asbestosis. This generated 50 stories in local newspapers, but only one reporter interviewed afflicted asbestos workers themselves. Karen Rothmeyer of the Wall Street Journal explains this bias bluntly: “Middle class journalists who are used to dealing with middle class officials won’t get off their asses to make the difficult effort to find people on the other side… Too many reporters wind up being Establishment stooges, not because they’re uncaring people, but because they’re middle class and don’t want to struggle with speaking another language with different people.”
page 104

(the Karen Rothmeyer quote is originally from Bob Hall, “The Brown Lung Controversy” Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 1978, p 35


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