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
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.