Journalism and Economics: The Tangled Webs of Profession, Narrative, and Responsibility in a Modern Democracy

By Richard Parker

Richard Parker, Lecturer in Public Policy, writes about the need for a new way of reporting on economic issues – one that better incorporates the public. Parker argues that even the clearest statement of what economists know about policy, written by journalists who are as well trained in economics, might still not penetrate the public’s consciousness unless the reporting can be captured by the filters by which the public organizes and processes information. In particular, the public imposes a moral and human interest frame on news which economics, as a discipline, severely underplays. The public, according to Parker, has deeply rooted views that are at odds with the individualistic, rational decision-maker paradigm which underemphasizes the role of institutions and collective action. He calls for an improved understanding of how the public learns from journalism and in particular, how it interprets and evaluates economic news.

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