A few days ago, I was reading The Week magazine, which bills itself as presenting the best of U.S. and international media. It occurred to me, as I turned its pages, that I was often seeing the same references for articles.
I decided to review the May issues for the sources quoted for content. Soon, it became clear that most of the sources were East Coast oriented, especially reflecting the New York City-Washington axis, where one in five journalists are now said to live and work.
The incestual nature of this coverage is disturbing to me. In four editions of The Week from May 3, 2019 to May 24, 2019, the New York Times was used 45 times for source material, The Washington Post 43 times, the Wall Street Journal 33 times and Bloomberg News 15 times. In addition, stories from 15 newspapers along the Atlantic coast from Boston to Miami where used for material.
These media outlets are all east of the Alleghenies. So, what does The Week report from publications in “fly over country” between the mountain chain and the West Coast? Not much. While there were 96 references from New York City news outlets alone, there were only 13 publications, beginning in Chicago and ending in Phoenix, cited for stories for the entire month. Material from west coast newspapers was used 11 times, nine of those from the Los Angeles Times.
The same pattern exists in news, cultural and opinion magazines, either in print or on line, used by The Week for material. To name a few – the New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Federalist and the National Review. They are also written and published in the New York-Washington corridor, mainly New York. In May, the only general interest magazine published outside of New York or Washington that was used was Atlanta Magazine in the South.
Taking everything in, The Week reflects a concentration of media power and thought. But the same concentration of geographical power and thought extends into the cable news and over-the-air television networks, all of whom have their headquarters in New York and their broadcast studios in New York and Washington.
We are one country. But we are a big country with regional diversity. National news and political opinion outlets should reflect those differences in our character more than they do now and not be so provincial.
So, it goes!