December 10, 2009

Searching for Christmas (Year 5, Part 2), and the Still-Missing Layoff Stories

This is the fifth year I have looked into how the establishment media treats these two topics:

  • The use of “Christmas shopping season” vs. “holiday shopping season” (the AP photo at right uses “holiday” and not “shopping,” even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
  • The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.

I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year — the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later.

The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.

On November 24 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that references to this year’s shopping season came up with just over 6% of references to the “Christmas shopping season,” while the rest referred to the “holiday shopping season.” That’s a 9-point, roughly 60% drop from just four years ago.

Here are the results of the relevant Google News searches done late last night compared to roughly the same date in 2005

  • “Christmas shopping season”: 2009 – 1,184 (9.4% of total); 2005 – 1,170 (11.8% of total)
  • “Holiday shopping season”: 2009 – 11,360 (90.6% of total); 2005 – 8,730 (88.2% of total)

While the decline in “shopping season” references to Christmas isn’t as steep as it was in the late November comparisons, it’s still 2.4 points, or about 25%.

Meanwhile the media’s relative non-coverage of Christmas and holiday layoffs during what virtually everyone concedes is the worst economy since the post-Carter, early-Reagan era continues to amaze.

Here’s how this year compares to roughly the same time last year and in 2007, when the unemployment rate was over five points lower, and over 7 million more Americans were working (actual searches were all without quotes) –

  • “Christmas layoffs”: 2009 – 1,491 (40.5% of total); 2008 – 6,213 (24% of total); 2007- 1,032 (38.8% of total);
  • “Holiday layoffs” plus “Holidays layoffs”: 2009 – 2,183 (59.5% of total); 2008 – 19,680 (76% of total); 2007 – 1,626 (61.2% of total)
  • Total layoff references: 2009 – 3,684; 2008 – 25,893; 2007 – 2,658.

The search results show that the press has been and continues to be many times more likely to refer to “Christmas” in connection with stories about layoffs than in stories about shopping. This year’s 40.5% layoff frequency for Christmas layoffs is more than quadruple the 9.4% in “Christmas shopping” references.

The number of total layoff references also tells an important tale. This year’s total is down almost 86% from last year, and is only about 40% higher than two years ago. This is not because this year’s economy is 86% better than last year’s or only somewhat worse than 2007′s.

As I said two weeks ago, consider showing posts such as this one the next time someone tries to tell you that establishment media outlets play news about the economy straight regardless of who is in office. They don’t, and it’s really not arguable.

Cross-posted at



  1. How about the lack of ‘Christian’ movies on television around Christmas or Easter. The only one I ever see (usually around Easter) is Ben Hur. Nary a Jesus to be seen on the main networks. Lots of Santa movies though.

    I miss the Christian movies and I am an atheist!

    Comment by Nicola Timmerman — December 10, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

  2. Very good point, Nicola.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 11, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

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