Inside the story: GlobalPost investigates ‘America the Gutted’

Posted By Spring Eselgroth

Special to SABEW


In April 2011, celebrated authors Don Barlett and James Steele challenged SABEW spring conference-goers to do more stories about the demise of the middle class.  Barlett and Steele were being honored with SABEW’s most important honor, its distinguished achievement award.  It was a subject area in which they had investigated.

Thomas Mucha, Editor of GlobalPost, was in the room at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University.  He started thinking about what his website could do.

So, he took on a 10-month investigation that appeared Wednesday, Oct. 24.  In the piece, GlobalPost examines the decline of the U.S. middle class, and what it means to the rest of the world.

Here is the link to the story.

We asked Mucha some questions about how GlobalPost did the work:

What was the most surprising thing you learned researching the issue?

“The most surprising thing that we learned is how tenuous life really is for people around the world as a result of this macroeconomic trend. Obviously things are difficult for many in America’s middle class. But even as people in developing nations gradually improve their economic situations, it’s uneven and difficult. Working conditions are often poor. Pay is often too low. Government social nets are weak. And job security can be fleeting. So the big lesson is that uncertainty rules no matter where you live.”

Do you consider the growing middle class in other parts of the world ( and our declining middle class) as an inevitable part of the “flattening” of our world?

“The growth of the middle class around the world is a result of our interconnected global economy. Capital will, as it always has through history, seek out the lowest costs. And there will be economic winners and losers in that process. So in a sense, yes, it’s inevitable. What’s not inevitable is how governments and institutions of civil society react to these developments. Will they create the right social safety nets? Will they take care of those who are hurt by this process? And in many places around the world, including the United States, those questions remain largely unanswered.”

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