The media has conspired to create an us-against-them framework for the most basic TV/newspaper discourse on all things corporate, Martin, a University of Northern Iowa communication professor, fervently asserts. Be it the shutdown of Michigan's General Motors plant made famous by activist filmmaker Michael Moore or worker strikes anywhere in the U.S., consumerism provides the nexus for media interpretation of labor conflicts, he writes. With densely illustrated examples, he deftly arrays his deliberate argument: the media consistently presents labor insurrection as preventing consumer contentment, thus making workers outside an immediate strike or protest side against their fellows on the picket line. By couching all labor disputes in management terms, Martin insists, corporations will turn consumers-even those working in the same arenas as striking workers-against workers and in favor of corporate control. Martin outlines several major strikes to demonstrate his claim. While acknowledging how, as a junior Republican in 1981, he lauded Reagan's firing of all striking airline controllers, he also came to understand the plight of laborers by watching them close up-beginning with his own mother and siblings. Compelling firsthand (and first-rate) accounts of strikes and protests opposing the skewed manner in which they were reported by the media (who can forget the scenes of seemingly anarchistic rioting in Seattle during the 1999 WTO protests?) make for fascinating reportage. With appendixes of specific media reports (and reporters), this thoroughly engaging sociopolitical commentary is worthy of Moore and Al Franken, but devoid of their often glib facility, putting scholarship first.
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"Compelling firsthand (and first-rate) accounts of strikes and protests opposing the skewed manner in which they were reported by the media . . . make for fascinating reportage. With appendices of specific media reports (and reporters), this thoroughly engaging sociopolitical commentary is worthy of Michael Moore and Al Franken, but devoid of their often glib facility, putting scholarship first."—Publishers Weekly
"Framed! raises significant questions for journalists, and not just in terms of how they do their jobs. To what extent, for example, are Guild-represented reporters handicapped—as trade unionists—by the frames through which they view the world as journalists' Can those who accept a consumer perspective ever see themselves as engaged in class struggle?"—Andy Zipers, The Guild Reporter, January 23, 2004
"Framed! points out that news organizations place coverage of labor, like many other stories, in narrative frames that at the same time help to explain an issue and exclude alternative explanations."—James Boylan, Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2004
"This volume joins the growing collection of carefully documented studies that demolish the myth of liberal media bias promulgated by the radical Right. . . . Martin carefully details the way in which the news media use negative framing in reporting stories about labor in general and organized labor in particular."—Choice 41:10, June 2004
"Christopher R. Martin lays bare the presumptions and preferences of an industry whose bottom line has become the bottom line."—Bill Knight, The Labor Paper 108:10, May 20, 2004
"As wages stagnate or decline while executive compensation rises, unions can make a stirring case that their members need a 'living wage' to become respectable consumers (aka readers and viewers). . . . The media is hardly management's enemy. But if company skirmishes become class warfare, it may become so."—John T. Landry, Harvard Business Review, April 2004
"Christopher R. Martin transcends the tired debate over media 'bias' by asking a more fundamental question: Are we to be a nation of citizens or consumers? His Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media shows how meaningful labor issues are transformed into a peculiar pseudo-plebian democratic consumerism that substitutes for both news and legitimate political opinion. Any real questions about the larger process of production or the working of the economy (let alone justice) seem to magically ricochet off the media's boilerplate understanding of the United States as a consumer's democracy. Martin's analysis is deft, his interpretations are sound, and his message is important."—Jefferson Cowie, Cornell University
"This is a thorough and insightful study of how the mainstream U.S. news media incorporate the premises of globalization into their coverage of labor. Christopher R. Martin analyzes how transnational capital's emerging values have come to underlie the news, from the Reagan administration's antiunion policies to the present. Sensitive to issues of race, gender and social class, Martin develops a powerful critique of the media's increasing marginalization and trivialization of organized labor. Framed! makes a strong contribution to research on political power and popular culture, as well as providing an excellent foundation for further research."—William S. Solomon, Rutgers University
"Coverage of the working class and labor issues may well be the weakest and most appalling aspect of the U.S. news media. It puts the lie to the notion that the United States enjoys an objective press that is politically neutral; in fact it is a press entirely subservient to big business and commercial interests. Christopher R. Martin has written a highly accessible and timely overview that provides historical depth as well as detailed case studies of recent episodes in media coverage of strikes. I recommend Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media to all citizens concerned about the prospects for democracy in this nation."—Robert W. McChesney, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Christopher Martin's case studies provide compelling evidence of the systematic antilabor bias of the corporate media. His analysis of the media's framing process that focuses on consumer effects, rather than workplace and citizen issues in labor-management strife, is persuasive and enlightening."—Edward S. Herman, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania