SABEW celebrates Labor Day with call to protect economic data

SABEW, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, acknowledges the upcoming Labor Day holiday with a warning about the looming threats to the integrity of economic data that is crucial to our work.

The rising intensity of attacks on the “administrative state” raises real questions about whether the result will be to politicize the gathering of economic data by experts at government agencies and the Federal Reserve.

“Efforts to undermine confidence in those reports would be a disturbing development for journalists as well as for investors, markets and the public,” said Henry Dubroff, chair of the SABEW First Amendment Committee. “Proposals to replace nonpartisan senior managers at government agencies with political appointees would only advance an agenda to undermine that confidence.”

China’s recent decision to simply stop publishing youth employment data – including a jobless rate that exceeds 20% – provides a road map for authoritarian regimes that want to squelch any public debate about policies that are clearly failing.

SABEW has invested in a number of efforts to advance the skills of journalists in their use of data. Our Goldschmidt Data Fellowships and our continuing dialogue with the National Association For Business Economics are two examples of how SABEW is advancing the work of data-based journalism.

“Labor Day is a day to celebrate our work,” Dubroff added. “But it is also a time to reflect on the potential threats to the future of data-based journalism.”

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