Income Disparities & Food Reporting

I’ll admit it: I’m confused.

Globally, media outlets report on food in a variety of ways, chiefly trying hard to decide if a story is news.  That happens here in the U.S., too, but there seems to be a real disconnect–and here’s my confusion–between economic issues or concerns and what’s on the plate.

Case in point: On 4/29/16, the NY Times ran this story–http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/04/dining/alinea-restaurant-chicago-grant-achatz.html.  Dinner for two at Grant Achatz’s restaurant in Chicago, according to Forbes, runs about $1000 a couple.

The median salary in Illinois, according to the Bureau of Numbers, is $57,444.  That’s about $1104 a week.  So the average person would need to spend a week’s salary to eat at the restaurant.  Yes, I know, it’s not for everyone in the same way that a lot of experiences are not for everyone.  But how is it it newsworthy?

Will this restaurant influence dining in the U.S.?  I don’t think so.  Will customers feel differently about their lives and communities after dining there?  As if.  Will a different service model or business plan develop as a result of the restaurant?  No, because it’s a rarified experience.

Oddly, the U.S. media has on one page thoughtful commentary and analysis of income disparities–page 3, today’s NY Times notes school achievement and how it is linked to money.

On another page, it’s as if there is no connection between a place where 1% of the population dine–diverting income–and school conditions in Chicago.  But there is a connection, and it ought to be explored.

That’s there story, that’s the news.

We are turning into a country where income disparities are examined on the op-ed pages or in news articles, but where economic analysis is not applied to related stories.  And you wonder how Trump is triumphant?  Editors aren’t consistent in their approach to the news–it’s compartmentalized.

So: I’m confused.

When the editors are applying analysis of economics to school achievement, but reporting on a restaurant only 1% of the population experiences, without analysis, a place with no significance, what is news?

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