Corporate Media, Globalization, and the UPS Strike
Author: Deepa Kumar
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Category: Business & Economics
When 185,000 United Parcel Service (UPS) workers across the United States walked off their jobs in the fall of 1997, working-class concerns became front-page news. Outside the Box presents a rare, in-depth study of the media representation of this major labour struggle. Deepa Kumar delineates the background and history of the strike, how it emerged within the trajectory of the rise of neoliberal globalization, and how television networks and dominant print media portrayed the event. Through a textual analysis of over 500 news reports, Kumar shows how the strikers pressured a seemingly intractable media system to represent the interests of workers and thereby elevated the class contradictions at the heart of a booming economy. While UPS had made about a billion dollars in profit during the year prior to the strike, its workers had seen paltry wage increases, a steady shift from secure full-time jobs to part-time jobs, and deteriorating working conditions. The corporate media were forced during this strike, to address working-class issues sympathetically. However, once the strike was over, the media reverted to business as usual. Drawing on her analysis of the strike, Kumar argues that media reform is more complicated than is suggested by liberal media theorists, yet she also argues against the pessimistic currents of radical scholarship that view the media as all-powerful. Instead, she puts forward the case for a dialectical understanding, developing what she calls a "dominance/resistance model" for media analysis.