Diamond In the Rough
USA Today report on coal mining jobs
breaks the mediaís negative mold on the industry.
By Ken Shepherd
Business & Media Institute
Feb. 15, 2006
Since the early January Sago Mine tragedy, most media have generally
slanted coverage of the U.S. mining industry in a negative direction
Ė focusing coverage on mining regulations as too weak, fines too
smalls, or companies as too cheap to invest in safety equipment.
That coal mining is a growing industry that pays well has been
relatively unexplored by the media, but USA Todayís Tom Vanden Brook
did a good job of it in his Money section cover story in the
February 15 paper.
ďCoal, once derided as a dirty fuel, is hot,Ē Vanden Brook writes,
adding, ďDemand for coal to fuel power plants is growing as oil and
natural gas prices soar. So is demand for miners.Ē
Citing Jim Dean, director of West Virginia Universityís Mining
Extension Service, Vanden Brook reported that aging, retiring miners
and a growing mining industry will yield around 7,000 new jobs in
the next 10 years in West Virginia, while Luke Popovich of the
National Mining Association told Vanden Brook some 50,000 miners
would need to be hired in the next decade to meet national demand.
Whatís more, noted Vanden Brook, mining jobs pay well as the
ďaverage West Virginia miner made about $64,000 last year, according
to Workforce West VirginiaÖ more than twice the $31,000 average
income for all industries in the state.Ē
¬†¬†¬†¬† The Business & Media Institute has
previously reported how the media have skewed reporting towards
arguments in favor of heavier regulation and
attacking coal mining companies
while ignoring the strong safety record of U.S. mining both in
historical perspective, and when compared to other coal-producing