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What The Media Tell Americans About Free Enterprise

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May 1997


Missing Details

It's a sad day in journalism when a men's fashion magazine scoops major national news organizations on serious economic issues. This is exactly what happened when the June, 1997 Details ran "Opportunity Rocks," an article debunking myths about the American workplace.

Most of these myths have been reported as fact by many news organizations over the past few years. For instance, Details' myth number two is that "incomes are stagnant." The magazine concedes that chronic poverty exists, "but studies that track an individual's earnings over the years show that the overwhelming majority of people, regardless of class, see their income rise dramatically."

Myth number four: "Our standard of living is sinking." Details argues that home-ownership rates have remained the same for decades, and that, compared to 1950, Americans have as much as 40 percent more leisure hours. The magazine notes that Americans today have better health care, less air pollution, and longer life spans than ever. "And take a look around your apartment. Color TV? VCR? CD player? Microwave? A computer, perhaps?" These things didn't exist in past generations.

That "fifty million jobs have been eliminated in the '90s" is myth number five. "For every two jobs lost, more than three have been created," Details points out. And these aren't bad jobs, either: "Some of the fastest-growing occupations, for instance, are in the computer industry," the magazine notes.

For many news organizations, especially the television networks, promoting these myths represents the totality of their reporting on the American workplace. They could learn something from this fashion magazine.


Rich Noyes


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