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Citations Needed

Nov 1, 2023

“Writers Strike Fallout: $2B Economic Impact May Be Just the Beginning,” the Hollywood Reporter states. “Looming UAW strike could cost US economy more than $5B in just 10 days,” Fox Business announces. “In a Strong Economy, Why Are So Many Workers on Strike?” the New York Times wonders.

We’re regularly exposed to news media’s updates on some vague notion of “the economy.” Though it’s never really defined, “the economy,” we are told, is something that will suffer if a work stoppage happens, even though striking workers might stand a chance to reap some real economic benefits. It’s also something that somehow does just fine, even thrives, despite rising homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, and general stress and anxiety among the public about their ability to afford basic needs.

Against all of this, pundits wonder why people in the US have doubts about the strength of the economy, when, by their standards, it’s doing so well. But when “the economy” is at odds with the interests of the working public, what does that tell us about media’s understanding and use of the term? Whose interests are truly reflected in mainline media’s definitions, or lack thereof, of the economy?

On this episode, we examine media’s use of the term and concept of “the economy,” looking at how and why metrics reflecting the interests of capital– like the GDP, the Dow, or IMF reports–are positioned as more important and accurate indicators of economic strength than metrics reflecting the needs of the average person. And how “the economy” is presented as a fragile precious thing that striking workers, protestors, and those seeking to interrupt the normal flow of life want to avoid damaging, at all costs.

Our guest is writer Kim Kelly.