Tag Archives: wages

Creating a Constituency for the News

Media consolidation has left many communities with a terrible lack of news service.

The news industry’s downturn has created another crisis: People across the country are finding it harder to get the information they need to participate in society and be engaged members of their communities.

The public loses the most when local news coverage disappears. According to the latest census from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, newsroom employment dropped by more than 10 percent in 2014 alone. And over the last 10 years, the number of newsroom jobs has plummeted 39 percent.

Empty Newsroom

Each of those lost jobs means one fewer journalist representing the public interest and holding the powerful accountable.

There’s often a real distance between journalists and the communities they’re supposed to serve. To make local reporting more viable and vibrant, it needs to consider perspectives from outside the news industry. That’s why Free Press started News Voices. Our new project will connect newsrooms and communities and build a collaborative network of people invested in local journalism.

There’s no better place to experiment on ways to create this network than New Jersey, one of the most underserved states when it comes to local media coverage.

When Free Press surveyed Garden State residents about their local media, many noted that they craved more coverage of their communities. A significant share of the state’s 565 municipalities lacks a locally rooted news outlet. Many of the outlets that do exist ignore residents’ concerns.

Almost all survey respondents remarked on how the location of New Jersey — sandwiched as it is between the huge media markets of Philadelphia and New York City — means that important local issues often fail to get sufficient coverage.

“The past two decades have seen local newspapers bought out and either closed down, absorbed, or just hanging on with little local coverage,” said a survey respondent from Rumson, a New Jersey suburb. These papers are “merely a shadow of the past when each municipality was well covered.”

This isn’t an indictment of the media in New Jersey. Every U.S. newsroom is under pressure to do more with less, and delivering that extra load in a 24-hour news cycle can come at the expense of quality public-service journalism. Another loss: the capacity to cultivate the sources journalists need to cover vital local stories.

Local journalism is at its best when it’s community-driven. The News Voices project is about listening to what New Jersey residents have to say about their information needs — and bringing journalists to the table to hear those voices. By teaming up with reporters, members of the public can advocate for the kind of reliable, credible, and timely information they require.

We aim to create something that doesn’t yet exist: a constituency for the news. And by that I mean a constituency that not only consumes the news but also advocates for its future.


Mike Rispoli is the press freedom campaign director for Free Press. FreePress.net
Distributed via OtherWords.org

(Featured photo via Flickr Jon S/ News Flash)

Record Homelessness in Billionaire-Heavy NYC

the uss inequality sinking-ship-inequality-cartoon

the uss inequality sinking-ship-inequality-cartoon

In terms of extreme poverty and wealth, New York City is having a banner year.

Hyperbole has become reality in the city that is now the sixth most economically unequal metropolitan area out of America's 50 biggest cities (and the most unequal of any city with more than one million residents).

Every day in The Big Apple, billionaires and the millions of lives they impoverished intermingle on the city's overpoliced sidewalks -- and the chasm between their economic worlds is only growing wider.

In the wake of the Great Recession and nearly two decades of Bloomberg-Giuliani-Pataki policies (that decimated the local "real" economy in favor of the FIRE industries), most New Yorkers' wages are either stagnating or dropping.

Whatever "economic recovery" has happened has mostly benefited the already-wealthy, leaving average New Yorkers further behind (EPI study-pdf) than ever.

But the news is even worse. According to a recent report, New York City now houses 56,000 people in its homeless shelters, the highest number in the city's history.

At the same time, the UBS billionaire survey found 108 billionaires living in New York City -- more than any other city in the world.

Meanwhile, in the city's wealthiest borough, Manhattan, homeless rate spiked 14% in the last year alone as cost of living increased steadily while wages continue stagnating or declining in real value.

Earlier this week, on WNYC, Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services Gilbert Taylor discussed some of the challenges homeless individuals face and the services the city is trying to provide them.

According to the National Employment Law Project, the average family needs to earn more than $68,000 year to be economically self-sufficient in NYC.

New York State as a whole has seen an uneven recovery rewarding the already-wealthy with even more wealth.

This follows a national pattern of uneven economic recovery, which itself comes on top of a lost generation of stagnant or, worse, declining value in real wages.

According to IRS records, 90% of Americans haven't seen real growth in their wages in more than 30 years.

At the same time, whether anti-worker policies were shaped as Reagonomics, Triangulation, Neo-Conservatism or Neo-Liberalism, the "new" economy that arose as the real economy was gutted, ultimately lined the pockets of the nation's uber-wealthy overclass, giving 1% of the nation's population around a 50% share of its economy.

VIDEO: Warren and Krugman talk economics at CUNY


The following description via the CUNY TV Youtube channel

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Paul Krugman, economist and columnist for The New York Times and Distinguished Scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, at the Graduate Center, CUNY, engage in a discussion of public policy, economics and the middle class. Moderator: Janet Gornick, Director of the Luxembourg Income Study Center, CUNY. Taped at CUNY Graduate Center, Sept. 4, 2014. (90 min.)

Check out other great CUNY shows here.


Minimum Wage Inadequate for Steep Housing Costs in the U.S.

Reality Check: Minimum Hourly Wages Needed to Afford a One-Bedroom Apartment in the U.S. (via Americans Against The Tea Party)

How much does it really cost to pay for a one bedroom apartment? The National Low Income Housing Coalition released a report that officially shows how much a worker would have to earn according to “fair market rent,” to afford a one bedroom rental…

3 Stats that Prove the “Recovery” is Just a Shift to Low Wage Jobs

Wages broken down by jobs lost during the Great Recession vs. jobs gained during the Economic "Recovery." (Data via NELP. Chart MJalonschi/BQBrew)

The National Employment Law Project recently released a report(.pdf) on the state of the economic recovery. What it found was an economy where good-paying jobs are being replaced with low-wage jobs.

Wages broken down by jobs lost during the Great Recession vs. jobs gained during the Economic "Recovery." (Data via NELP. Chart MJalonschi/BQBrew)

Wages broken down by jobs lost during the Great Recession vs. jobs gained during the Economic "Recovery." (Data via NELP. Chart MJalonschi/BQBrew)

As workers around the country organize for higher wages, the report sheds new light on the new realities of the American economy.

The heart of the report can be summarized in these three statistics:

  1. Higher-wage occupations constituted 41 percent of recession losses, but only 30 percent of recovery growth.
  2. Mid-wage occupations constituted 37 percent of recession losses, but only 26 percent of recovery growth.
  3. Lower-wage occupations constituted 22 percent of recession losses, but 44 percent of recovery growth. Out of every 9 jobs created during the economic "recovery," four were lower-wage occupations.

You can read the full report here:

National Employment Law Project | Low Wage Recovery.

How The Labor Department Has Let Companies Off The Hook For Unpaid Internships

photo by Steve/cc/flickr
[repostus]How The Labor Department Has Let Companies Off The Hook For Unpaid Internships (via http://crooksandliars.com)

by Kara Brandeisky and Jeremy B. Merrill ProPublica, April 9, 2014, 3 p.m. Two years after the U.S. Department of Labor announced its intent to crack down on unpaid internships, a federal investigator called a final meeting with the biggest offender…

Read more

Wall Street Bonuses vs the Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage would give our economy much more bang for the buck than we get from the financial industry's yearly windfalls.


Purveyors of Ferraris and high-end Swiss watches keep their fingers crossed toward the end of each calendar year, hoping that the big Wall Street banks will be generous with their annual cash bonuses.

New figures show that the bonus bonanza of 2013 didn’t disappoint. According to the New York State Comptroller’s office, Wall Street firms handed out $26.7 billion in bonuses to their 165,200 employees last year, up 15 percent over the previous year. That’s their third-largest haul on record.

Wall Street Charges Ahead, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Wall Street Charges Ahead, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

That money will no doubt boost sales of luxury goods. Just imagine how much greater the economic benefit would be if that same amount of money had gone into the pockets of minimum-wage workers.

The $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pocketed in bonuses would cover the cost of more than doubling the paychecks for all of the 1,085,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

And boosting their pay in that way would give our economy much more bang for the buck. That’s because low-wage workers tend to spend nearly every dollar they make to meet their basic needs. The wealthy can afford to squirrel away a much greater share of their earnings.

When low-wage workers spend their money at the grocery store or on utility bills, this cash ripples through the economy. According to my new report, every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers adds about $1.21 to the national economy. Every extra dollar a high-income American makes, by contrast, only adds about 39 cents to the gross domestic product (GDP).

And these pennies add up.

If the $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pulled in on their bonuses last year had instead gone to minimum wage workers, our economy would be expected to grow by about $32.3 billion — more than triple the $10.4 billion boost expected from the Wall Street bonuses.

This immense GDP differential only speaks to one price we pay for Wall Street’s bonus reward culture. Huge bonuses, the 2008 financial industry meltdown made clear, create an incentive for high-risk behaviors that endanger the entire economy.

And yet, nearly four years after passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, regulators still haven’t implemented the modest provisions in that law to prohibit financial industry pay that encourages “inappropriate risk.” Time will tell whether last year’s Wall Street bonuses werebased on high-risk gambles that will eventually blow up in our faces.

Low-wage jobs, on the other hand, endanger nothing. The people who harvest, prepare, and serve our food, the folks who keep our hotels clean, and the workers who care for our elderly all provide crucial services. They deserve much higher rewards.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is the author of the new report Wall Street Bonuses and the Minimum Wage. This article was originally published by Otherwords.

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