Media Ignores Largest Labor Strike In World History

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Above photo: Some of the tens of millions of Indian workers whose strike was ignored by US corporate media. (image: Democracy Now!)

When tens of millions of workers go out on strike in the second-largest country in the world—and the third-largest economy in the world—resulting in what may be the biggest labor action in world history (AlterNet9/7/16), you’d think that would merit some kind of news coverage, right?

Not if you’re a decision-maker at a US corporate media outlet, apparently.

A coalition of trade unions in India representing some 180 million workers staged a one-day general strike on Friday, September 2, in protest of what they called the “anti-worker and anti-people” policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an advocate of neoliberal policies and increased foreign investment (Democracy Now!9/2/16). Assocham, India’s chamber of commerce, estimated that the economic impact of the strike was $2.4 billion–$2.7 billion (Hindustan Today9/3/16).

And yet there was virtually no coverage of the strike in commercial US media, according to searches of the Nexis news database. Not a word on ABCCBS orNBC. No mention on the main cable news networks—CNNFox and MSNBC—either. (The Intercept‘s Zaid Jilani—9/6/16—noted that there was one mention on CNN International, when “the CEO of the human resources consulting firm ManpowerGroup cited the Indian strike as part of global concerns about technology suppressing wages.”) Neither the PBS NewsHour nor NPR touched the story.

Not a single US newspaper found in the Nexis database—which includes most of the major papers, like the New York TimesWashington Post and USA Today—reported an original story on the strike. (Associated Press had a brief, 289-word report, which ran on the New York Times‘ website and was doubtless picked up by other papers.) The Wall Street Journal, whose full text isn’t on Nexis, also skipped the Indian strike story.

That’s an example of the kind of story US corporate media don’t care about. What do they care about? Well, Apple is planning to release a new version of the iPhone next week. That’s already making news: CBS did a segment on itsMoney Watch program (9/7/16) previewing the phone, as did NPR‘sMorning Edition and All Things Considered (9/7/16); the product was front-page news in USA Today (9/8/16) and the Wall Street Journal(9/8/16), while you had to turn to page A12 in the Washington Post (9/7/16) or the first page of the business section in the New York Times (9/8/16) to get your future cellphone news.

A hundred million or more workers striking for their rights hold no interest for the news managers in US corporate media. But a new gadget from a prominent advertiser? Now, that’s the news that’s fit to print.

Jim Naureckas is the editor of You can follow him on Twitter at@JNaureckas.

  • DHFabian

    This is the first I heard about this strike. I’m intrigued by one point made here, about the “anti-worker and anti-people policies.” Does this imply that their strike includes consideration of all people, not only current workers? With this generation of Americans, there is the belief that only those who are of current use employers/our capitalist system are deserving of the most basic human rights (UN’s UDHR) of food and shelter. I don’t know if modern India shares this belief.