Economic News – how business news dominate the health of the world
News coverage of economic issues is remarkable in the way in which it reproduces a profoundly ideological view of the world. While individuals can play a range of roles in economic life – worker, consumer, citizen, or investor – economic news focuses overwhelmingly on the activities and interests of investors. One of the most striking examples of this phenomenon is the fact that virtually every newspaper has a Business section, while almost none have a Consumer or Labour section. As a result, economic news is largely business news, and business news is directed at corporate actors and investors.
In this kind of news, the ups and downs of the stock market are often the centrepiece, serving as an indicator of the economic health of the country. By equating economic health with the fortunes of investors, news tips its ideological hand. Such definitions fail to recognize that different groups can have different economic interests. To exemplify, although a rise in the stock market is depicted as positive economic news for the country as a whole, there are clearly losers even when the market soars.
Let us hypothetically turn the tables on economic news. What if coverage of the economy focused predominantly on the experiences and interests of workers, evaluating economic health from the standpoint of working conditions and highlighting the economic analysis of labour union officials? It would likely be labelled “anti-business” or “pro-labour” and be targeted by critics for its “biased” reporting. It would, in short, be identified as providing a fundamentally ideological view of the economy. Indeed, the dominance of the business worldview in economic news coverage e is so complete that it seems natural. We take it for granted, assuming that the economy equals corporate globe and that economic health is equivalent to investor satisfaction. No conscious effort at manipulation is being made here. But it is a clear example of the ways media products draw upon and reproduce a hegemonic ideology.