By Doug Porter
The big news in downtown San Diego yesterday, if you are a reader of the local daily newspaper, was the bomb squad being called in to investigate a discarded sex toy left on the ground near the federal courthouse.
In keeping with UT-San Diego’s historic lack of coverage, there was no mention of early morning protests temporarily causing a McDonald’s franchise in City Heights to lock their doors. Or the members of the City Council who came out at 6am to stand with the demonstrators. Or the 150 or so protesters who marched all over downtown for a three hour period mid-day, targeting not only fast food stores but federal immigration enforcement, and echoing nationwide dismay over recent killings at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Local TV stations sent cameramen to get a bit of footage of the downtown demonstrations. KUSI, KFMB, Fox5, and 10news all used a local wire service for their actual reporting on the demonstration.
Now I know these demonstrations weren’t “page one or lead story” news by contemporary journalism standards. Something is happening here in San Diego and around the country. There is a larger story about inequality and injustice. And it’s not going away.
The local NBC affiliate used the demonstration, which began on the sidewalk right outside its doors, for interviews on local reactions to the Staten Island grand jury refusing to indict a NYPD officer in the choking death of Eric Garner.
The incident, and the lack of a grand jury indictment, were denounced during an organized labor rally outside the NBC Building downtown Thursday morning.
KPBS was one local outlet that actually did have an actual reporter file a story:
The campaign to organize fast food workers began about two years ago when workers in New York City first walked off the job. But Rev. Beth Johnson of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice said the national movement dovetails with the local fight for a minimum wage increase.
“They’re told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but there are no straps on those boots,” Johnson said. “This is really about giving people the opportunity to understand the solidarity across low-wage workers.”
San Diego voters will take up increasing the minimum wage in 2016. Protesters Thursday marched to San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sander’s office. He led the effort to block the increase until voters weigh in.
Wage Theft in California
Perhaps these demonstrations were too “political” for the local daily fishwrap. Maybe they could have covered the new study released by the US Labor Department demonstrating that between 3.5 and 6.5% of all the wage and salary workers in California and New York get paid less than the minimum wage.
From the New York Times:
Violations were most common in the restaurant and hotel industries, the study found, followed by educational and health services and retail and wholesale….
…“Younger workers are significantly more likely to be illegally paid below the minimum wage than older workers,” said the study, “The Social and Economic Effects of Wage Violations.” “Violation rates tend to be slightly lower for men than women.”
Mr. Weil said the nation was in a long-term period during which labor standards and wage compliance have eroded. “It’s unfortunate that we’re finding these violations when the minimum wage is at its lowest level in a long, long time,” after factoring in inflation, he said.
The study said these pay violations ended up costing taxpayers. As a rest of the violations, school breakfast and lunch programs spent an additional $15.6 million in California and $7.8 million in New York in fiscal 2011, the report said. And annual spending on food stamps rose nearly $11 million in California and $33.6 million in New York because of the violations.
Black Lives Matter
Today’s newspaper did include an Associated Press story about continuing reaction to the death of Eric Garner. Here’s a snippet:
Protests were held in cities for a second day Thursday. Among them:
Atlanta, where demonstrators gathered in downtown Atlanta, roughly 100 turning out near the Five Points MARTA train station.
Chicago, where hundreds blocked Lake Shore Drive along Lake Michigan. Protesters were thwarted in their efforts to march to Soldier Field, where a Bears-Cowboys football game was scheduled. They reversed course and at the city’s Dan Ryan Expressway, about two dozen demonstrators darted onto the road and briefly blocked five lanes.
Detroit, where protesters lay down on the ground for a “die-in” at the city’s Campus Martius at midday as temperatures hovered around freezing.
Denver, where students from at least four high schools joined in protest. Students from Abraham Lincoln High School left class and walked about 6 miles to the Capitol, snarling traffic. Buses were sent to pick up the students after the protest.
Minneapolis, where demonstrators decrying police treatment of minorities stopped traffic for several hours on Interstate 35W near downtown before rallying at City Hall. Some protesters were fast-food workers demanding higher wages and union rights.
I kind of doubt we’ll see much coverage of the San Diego protest, which is scheduled for City Heights this evening. Psst! Here’s the info:
The rest of my column today will consist of photos from the fast food protests (Both local and national)
Oh, and this is what the Brooklyn Bridge looked like last night.
On This Day: 1848 – President Polk triggered the Gold Rush of ’49 by confirming the fact that gold had been discovered in California. 1911– Unionists John T. and James B. McNamara were sentenced to 15 years and life, respectively, after confessing to dynamiting the Los Angeles Times building during a drive to unionize the metal trades in the city. They placed the bomb in an alley next to the building, set to detonate when they thought the building would be empty; it went off early, and an unanticipated gas explosion and fire did the real damage, killing twenty people. The newspaper was strongly conservative and anti-union. 1980 – John Lennon gave his last interview. It was with Jonathan Cott of Rolling Stone.
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Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
I was interested to read here what local protests the Union-Tribune did NOT cover this week. Military censor General Krulak may be long gone from the U-T newsroom, but editor Jeff Light seems to be doing the same job, I am surprised and sorry to learn.
In the same vein of purposeful no-there-there, VOSD continues to flog (pardon the expression) the Carl DeMaio/staffer/ urinal story to such an extent that one wonders if there is some underlying point to having editor Scott Lewis personally investigate such ancient history.
Doubly depressing San Diego journalism.
Maria E. Garcia says
The lesson learned sex toys are more important than improving the life of thousands of San Diegan. The pictures were worth million.
bob dorn says
Big Media, like Big Mac, invests little in its own people. Working reporters are few, but the ad salespeople and marketers are many. Local city news services and the Associated Press catch stories on the fly and television puts them on air, relieving the channels of any need to exercise judgement, or field the larger news staffs needed to cover events. That’s why coverage is so lacking in diversity and depth, so banal, so cute. Dumbing down is both a conscience decision not to upset the business apple cart, and the result of not having thinking and energetic people gather the news.
You go, Fast Food Workers, and Trayon, Brown, Garner protestors, you go. We owe you all a lot of thanks.