I have to say, I'm sort of dubious. The media consultants (Douglas Gould and Co) are saying that it's bad when newspaper articles or magazine reports start off with stories about individuals or families who are struggling to get by. The argument is that even if the subjects are highly sympathetic, this pushes the reader into a frame of "sympathy for the poor" and they get stuck on the merits (or flaws) of the individual example, rather than looking at the social and economic system that leads to the problem.
Ok, they're the experts, and this is based on research on the subject. And I know that when newspapers run these stories about, for example, people who are about to lose their homes because of medical bills, they often get donations for that specific family. But my question is how many people read the stories -- my guess is it's higher for the ones that start off with the compelling story. As Gould and co acknowledge, reporters certainly think that it's better journalism that way, and that more people will read the stories than if they lead with straight economic analysis. And a story that no one reads doesn't do you much good, right?
I was also a little dumbfounded by the statement that it's "highly advantageous" that welfare has essentially disappeared from news stories "as welfare tends to call forth negative stereotypes about low-wage work and workers." Wow.
I did think that it was interesting that they found that stories about family leave and low wage work were disproportionately likely to be framed as personal rather than as a question of workforce policy. I'm not sure if this is a statement about the issue per se, or about the lack of specific legislative proposals that encourage the use of a systemic frame.