"All of the network newscasts tonight prominently featured the transit strike. One network had it as the top story. Is there some East Coast bias here? The vast majority of the country is not affected by, and is not particularly interested in, a transit strike in New York City."Indeed, much of the reporting on the strike has focused on the experiences of New Yorkers and local businesses, and frankly, the question of whether the story warrants prominent coverage -- like most questions of its nature -- doesn't have a clear answer. In terms of relevance to the average American, one could argue that the issue only currently affects New Yorkers, so why would someone in San Francisco care about public transportation issues 2,500 miles away? On the other hand, the strike does boil down to issues –- retirement, pensions and benefits -- that affect workers all over the country, and the networks have examined why the strike is relevant to many more Americans than just those who reside in New York.
Last night, ABC's "World News Tonight" -- which led with the story -- and the CBS "Evening News" both featured stories on the strike, but related it to larger issues about pensions and worker benefits affecting people outside of New York.
"This is day two of the strike that's left seven million New Yorkers in a lurch," said Anchor Elizabeth Vargas, "How it is ultimately resolved could affect an enormous number of Americans who don't live in the nation's largest city. The reason is the central sticking point in all that gridlock is the debate over benefits and how much help workers should get from their employers, as they prepare for retirement."Anchor Bob Schieffer introduced correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi's piece on pensions with a similar frame: "A judge is now threatening to jail the union leaders who called the strike, a strike that is largely over pension cuts. Workers all over America are dealing with that same problem."
Dawn Frantangelo's piece on last night's "Nightly News" focused on how the strike was affecting New York-based businesses, but the previous evening's broadcast had featured a discussion about the national implications of the strike with CNBC's Ron Insana.
In newspapers across the country, the story got quite a bit of prominent play. While you wouldn't have found the story on the front page of the Dallas Morning News or the Arizona Republic on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune featured a front-page story on the strike along with a big photo of commuters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. So did the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Yesterday's Los Angeles Times didn't feature a story about the strike on page one, but a sizeable picture depicting traffic on 2nd Avenue was right above the fold, teasing to the story on A6.
What do you think? Is the transit strike significant enough to warrant that much national coverage, or is it a case of "East Coast bias"?