How do employees in the construction industry and elsewhere follow the news in an election year?
How do employees in the construction industry and elsewhere follow the news in an election year? Most of them look to their employers for definitive views on issues and candidates. While this is heartening for advocates of the business community, it also illustrates a country adrift on populist waters.
A political action committee called BIPAC has been advocating for business management since 1963. It promotes prosperity, and periodically surveys employees about their sources of information on public issues and political candidates. Five years ago, an overwhelming percentage of employees cited online national and local media as their chief sources of information. But when asked which sources were most credible, those surveyed more often believed what they got from employers than what came from media.
In that survey, the credibility gap between traditional news outlets and employers had grown from earlier surveys. The gap widened further in a survey conducted just last year: 31 percent deemed employer information more credible than political party or union information, with the credibility of media registering at just… 3 percent.
That is, employers are believed 10 times more often than national and local newspaper, broadcast and internet sources. Therein lie seeds of disaster. When a common source of credible information is not available in a democratic republic, people turn to pet sources, which always are colored by self-interest. The result is an electorate that is distrusting, splintered, and prey for demagogues.
While many of us would rather see the business community bend public opinion its way than some more fractious influences, the fact is that not all wisdom sits in America's executive suites. It is a special interest, in the end, just like labor, environmental, legal, and social-change communities.
The media are where we ought to be getting our news and analysis. They are the Fourth Estate that founding fathers counted on to keep government and special interests in check. That media no longer are deemed especially credible is a fateful squandering of that legacy—and the root cause of this messy, populist election year.