Minimum wage hike, ChiTrib-style

Product-labeling at issue

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By Jim Bowman

Writer

Do they doze at the Chi Trib copy desk when preparing hard copy? Consider today's headline "Minimum Wage Debate: Economists mostly agree hike is good. Politicians do not" for a story by Gregory Karp that cites but does not interview two economists who don't like the hike and interviews a labor specialist who thinks it's good and mentions no politicians at all.

{On line it's a different story: "Minimum-wage debate rages on. Consensus elusive, despite 75 years of experience, countless studies." It's the joy of digital: you get a second chance.)

The story itself remains suspect. It closes (you need a closer, do you not?) with the labor specialist, Robert Bruno, observing:

As the arguments on each side continue, fundamentally the minimum wage is a government regulation that attempts to fix a perceived inefficiency in the market by redistributing some wealth.

"The question is, is that good or bad?"

Not a bad question, but a better one is why Karp's sleepy editors do not label his piece "analysis" rather than slap it on the front page, where news stories go.

Or an even better one is why Karp didn't lead with his UIC labor expert as a sort of opinion piece and then go into the two economists' research that concluded that "a rise in the minimum wage results in reduced employment among low-wage workers."

Equal time for these two, David Neumark of U-Cal-Irvine and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve, would have helped. It might even have awakened the copy editors, saved them from false labeling the product.

On the other hand, the desk people might have gone all honest about it with something like "Labor expert likes hike. Two economists do not."

Contact:
Email: jimbowman7@aol.com Twitter: @BlitheSp

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