For “Expert” Analysis on Minimum Wage, Journal Turns to Corporate PR Firm with a History

January 18th, 2013 · 3 Comments · economy, labor

By Arthur Alpert

Believe me, I intended to follow up today on my last post, evaluating the Journal’s coverage thus far of the 2013 Legislature.

And I was determined to view it through the prism of my thesis – there exist two Journals, the staff operation (professional) and the editors’ publication (politicized).

I will do that soon but today we must digress.

Consider the story that appeared atop the Business Page Friday, Jan. 18 under the rubric, “SF Base Wage to Hit $10.51 March 1” and the sub-head, “Second highest in the nation; critics warn of negative consequences”.

It was a “Journal Staff Report, ” meaning that the editors are responsible for it.

Now let’s look at it.

The story reported the mandated increase in Santa Fe’s minimum wage, said it would be second only to San Francisco’s, that Mayor David Coss was pleased but “a significant coalition of business owners and others say it’s time to freeze the rate.”

Coss got one paragraph. Chamber of Commerce President Simon Brackley, pro-freeze, got two.

But Journal editors also had recourse to an expert, one Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, who expounded on how higher minimum wages take an awful toll on minorities, teenagers and the economy.

The expert got three graphs.

Never heard of Saltsman and EPI, so I did a Web search.

Big surprise – the Employment Policies Institute is another “fiscally conservative non-profit American think tank” housed at the offices of Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C., public relations organization

Bingo!

Remember Berman and Company and its fearless leader, one Rick Berman, whose credits include founding the American Beverage Institute to fight the wild-eyed radicals at MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving?

Journal editors used Berman, a corporate-funded, anti-organized labor activist, to add heft to the anti-union advocacy they embarked upon in misreportiing the Hostess bankruptcy.

(Take a look at my Dec. 6, 2012 post on the Hostess escapade for more on the guy Morley Safer of “60 Minutes” called ‘Dr. Evil.”)

So, returning to the minimum wage story, Journal editors imported the research director of an outfit that works out of Berman’s address. For his expertise, no doubt.

Paul Gessing must have been on vacation.

Seriously, do the editors at the Journal know any “experts” who are not paid advocates for corporate interests?

Do they know any “experts” who try to be fair?

Do they understand the virtue of a business page that covers business as opposed to one that promotes it?

Rhetorical questions, of course.

PS Perhaps this post wasn’t a total digression; after all, the strident advocacy clothed as news was perpetrated by editors, not reporters, evidence for my “two Journals” theory.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Susan Loubet

    Paul Gessing may have been absent for this Journal story, but he did a commentary on KUNM on raising the minimum wage. He took up the tack on minorities and teenagers suffering from a raise in the minimum wage-i.e., we have a higher unemployment rate for teenagers after minimum wage was passed. He didn’t say what time period he was looking at, but my guess would be that we had a higher unemployment rate for everyone-since that has been the trend.
    Job growth in New Mexico is a big problem. We are way behind states surrounding us. Nothing to do with the minimum wage.

  • Cheryl Everett

    Corporate electronic media do the same thing, of course. Remember all the “experts” broadcast in unison (and unopposed) as the national media beat the drums of the Iraq War?

  • John

    It would give the Journal a hernia to complement their “Business” section by creating a section titled “Labor” to honestly report on what working people think and are doing. The working stiffs at the paper would actually enjoy reporting their stories. The positive side is that it might increase readership by people who actually buy stuff their advertisers sell.

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