Newspapers Give Deficit Bigger Play Than Jobs

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 03:16 PM

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If political battles over the economy are decided in part by who gets to frame the debate, Republicans concerned with deficits appear to be winning over Democrats who decry unemployment. A National Journal survey of leading newspapers finds that coverage of excess spending has increased dramatically, while mentions of joblessness are dwindling.

“The analysis — based on a measure of how often the words ‘unemployment’ and ‘deficit’ appear in major publications — portrays a dramatically shifting landscape of coverage over the last two years,” the Journal reports, “as the debate over how to fix the federal deficit has risen to prominence and the question of how to handle still-high unemployment has faded from the media’s consciousness.”

The Journal compiled its word count from articles published between April 2009 and May of this year in five establishment dailies: The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

Recent improvement in jobs data might explain some of the decline in media focus on unemployment but not all of it. “More likely,” the Journal reports, “the broadening gap demonstrates just how effective conservatives have been at changing the narrative of economic policy.”

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