Monday, February 20, 2012

Nothing goes away

Politico, welcome to the Internet.

No, really.

Last week, Politico's Donovan Slack wrote a story about President Obama's visit to Wisconsin. She started it like this:
MILWAUKEE -- It's very clear what side President Obama is on here in Wisconsin.

Behind the stage where he will speak today are two flags: an American one, as usual, and right alongside it -- and (sic) a flag for the local Obama at Masterlock plant under US and Wisconsin flags union, Wisconsin 1848.

Just one problem. Here's the photo Politico ran. Can you see what the problem is?


That's the state flag of Wisconsin.

It's bizarre enough that Politico actually thinks Obama is rabidly pro-union. But Slack couldn't recognize the flag? She didn't bother to ask anybody just what union that was - pipefitters? teamsters? public school teachers? firefighters and sailors? - most union emblems do say that.

If you go to Politico now, you won't find that story (amusingly, it's still (as Politico 'most popular posts' showing Union Flag'of today) in their Most Popular Posts sidebar, though the link just goes to the front page). They've decided not to apologize for it, or correct it. They're just pretending that it never happened. But this is the Internet. Nothing actually goes away. Nothing goes away.

This isn't just funny, or mildly embarrassing, or a hint that a little research helps. As In These Times' Mike Elk writes,

All jokes aside, though, there is a fundamental problem Politico's screw-up exposes: workers not being quoted in stories pertaining to issues that affect them. As a Pew Study recently showed, union members were only quoted in 2 percent of all stories about economic matters in 2009.


In his new book Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, John Nichols writes about how The New York Times got a key story wrong in the earlier stages of the battle. ... Nichols writes, “The reason that the New York Times enabled Walker is the same reason that so many media outlets get so many stories about the organized and unorganized struggles of working Americans wrong. They haven’t bothered to cover low-income and working-class Americans seriously for years, choosing instead to tailor their reporting to attract the elite upper-income readers and viewers who advertisers want to reach.”

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