An extended metaphor, or an allegory.
An extended metaphor or allegory is this technique, where the writer could be talking about one thing but refer to another, or, often, alluding to greater and more abstract ideas. Your example of the news article is one such allegory.
Another example, and one that my Literature teacher was particularly fond of, was Shakespeare's use of 'rings' in The Merchant of Venice to indicate the exclusivity of the protagonists' social circle - in order to emphasize the overall context of prejudice that the story explores.
This is generally the purpose of allegory: to explain one's view on a wider subject, through the exploration of a smaller representation. It is very common to find allegory in major works, as it is part of what may make a work very influential.
For writers that held unpopular or dangerous beliefs, allegory could allow them to make their ideas heard without risking their work being rejected, unpublished, or even causing risk on the author's own life.
Alternatively, allegory could allow an author to make an issue easier for the reader to understand, being them more concrete and relatable than abstract ideas, and appealing to their emotions.