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PBC NewsHours



 On September 2012, teachers in Chicago went on strike for the first time in 25 years. They protested against disagreements in new labor conditions that appeared after Rahm Emmanuel became the Mayor of Chicago. The media covered the event in very different ways.

PBS NewsHour claimed that the issues highlighted by those on strike dealt with how much control principles in the Chicago Board of Education would have over schools and the policy that would tie teachers’ performance to students’ scores on standardized testing. They discussed the first Chicago teachers’ strike in 25 years and talked about personality clash that occurred between Rahm Emmanuel and Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union.  Negotiations between parents and community support teachers continued at the bargaining table. Information was presented in a generally vague and unclear manner (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flb3VZcwGWg).

At the same time, BBC News covered the event more clearly. They indicated all the demands the communities were fighting for, such as better class education, smaller classes, more social workers, libraries and playground absence. All desperate circumstances children were constantly facing, like being victims of violence and murder, were mentioned either. Mayor’s position was also considered, which helped the audience to understand the teachers’ strike and its reasons (http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/world-us-canada-19551338).

CBS News identified the event as a huge headache for city leaders and hundreds of thousands of families. They claimed that the changes protested by the teachers on strike, namely their performance and accountability issues, were seen by the Union as a threat to job security (http://www.cbsnews.com/ video/watch/?id=7421188n).

There is a tendency of media critics to believe that news coverage has never been as horrible as it is now. The problem is that the news media appear to be both social institutions, designated to practice the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and press, and corporate entities, designed to generate profits for their media magnates and stockholders. Five dominant frames of labor news are currently applied by media in their reports.

First, the consumer is king (Lotz 191). In this case, the audience is a consumer; all the information needs to be broadcasted honestly, without any reprehensibility, and the media ought to explain the main reasons and consequences of any event. Media should disclose every party’s point of view in the same way they were told and they should not misrepresent the events so that their potential audience can understand the problem at hand completely. BBC reporters, in this case, covered all the demands advanced by teachers’ supporters as well as all the problems the current educational system faced in present. The Mayor’s position and disappointment were communicated either. That helped the public properly understand the cause of the conflict under discussion. However, no information concerning any specific agreements on both sides and at what stage the negotiations were held has been mentioned in the news. The consumer is king; however, to gain his support and trust, the source should not only cover the causes of conflict, but also the ways to resolve them.

Second, the process of production is none of the public’s business. Consumers have to decide how to take the submitted information and do not worry about the process itself. Media often avoid discussion of the actual collective process of production, which would cause genuine stories of employees and their conditions; instead, they create a meaning that has little or nothing to do with the issue at hand.  PBC NewsHours reporters linked true issues of the strike with a comparative discussion of the leaders’ personal negotiation qualities rather than provided detailed information concerning the process of the argument. Their report should have been focused on the detailed conditions of the strike, as well as on the parents’ point of view, since those people are the main measure force to evaluate the educational system according to which their children study.

Third, Brenner, Day and Ness (49) argue that the economy is driven by great business leaders and entrepreneurs. This news frame is the flip side of the hidden process that covers not the workers’ issues, but portrays the interests of individual political leaders and businessmen. CBS News reporters broadcasted the teachers’ strike in a negative tone, criticizing the Mayor’s strict policy and conducting an embarrassing evaluation of the President’s campaign regarding the educational system. It is true that media must cover both sides of any arising event; however, that covering should be comparative, and all the parties of the dispute need to be considered equally.

Fourth, the workplace is a meritocracy. This frame suggests that every worker is evaluated regarding his or her knowledge and should get promoted according to this criterion. The myth here is as follows: if a person works hard, he/she will get properly rewarded in the end. This is a wrong opinion, as not every person who is smart and painstaking gets promotion. The media stated that the Mayor of Chicago was in favor of the local principles to pick the most powerful teacher to teach. That is the right decision because teacher performance can be accurately evaluated only by those directly related to the educational system. However, all such decisions must be carried out impersonally, thus making a fair evaluation. To make it possible, there might be an independent party to track decisions above them.

Fifth, collective action is bad. CBS covered the uselessness of the event as it was transferred to publicity and made it a headache for city leaders and hundreds of thousands of families. Publicity will attract more attention to the problem and help to solve it as soon as possible with the achievement of all the requirements. However, children should not suffer from this and the process of education should not be stopped during the strike.

Thus, every individual report interprets the event to the audience in its own way. Consumer is definitely a king and media should deliver information to the community honestly. However, relating to the observed newscasts, it is evident that none of them has done it completely and properly. More comprehensive information was covered by BBC News reporters. They specified the reasons of the strike, the teachers’ demands and the Mayor’s opinion. PBC NewsHours and CBS News paid more attention to familiarize the community with the negotiators of the strike, thus generalizing the event.

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