The end of labour correspondents

Today's MediaGuardian offers a timely reminder of the decline of the labour correspondent, with the news that the Independent is likely to be letting go of the last but one mainstream labour writer.

In Why labour reporters aren't working Peter Wilby laments of the time when labour stories - such those related to strikes, pay claims, negotiations, sackings - where rarely off the front pages.

Without easy access to the media Wilby argues that trade unions are often forced into campaigns designed to shame bosses.

Instead of labour specialists it is suggested that work of this kind has been subsumed into other specialisms, such as industrial correspondents who traditionally cover business stories.

However, as Wilby quite sweetly puts it:

"The labour reporters' true successors, however, are the finance and economics correspondents.

Britain's present prosperity comes from shuffling money around, not from making things.

Governments try to get bankers and venture capitalists onside, not union leaders.

Newspapers need a cadre of reporters who know about hedge funds and derivatives, rather than labour reporters who understand the difference between a stevedore and a docker."

It truly is a sad time when millions continue to face a wide-range of work-related problems and the media giants just sit back as if to say everything is fine on the workplace front.

The decline of organized labour clearly is a problem here as how do you report on many 1,000s of micro-disputes instead of a handful of altercations that involve similar numbers of workers?

I sense that part of the answer to this problem of under-reporting lies with the blogosphere, but even then the blogosphere, as it currently stands, is unlikely to match the power and influence of the Fleet Street brigade.

I hope I am wrong!

1 comment:

johninnit said...

Thanks for sharing this James, and your thoughts on it - I reckon the web may provide some of the answer as you say in terms of specialist reporting, but will it just be specialist reporting for a specialist audience?