How much does the media affect the economy?

How much does the media affect the economy?

ARD chairman Prof. Thomas Gruber with IHK honorary president Hans-Peter Schmidt, who represents IHK president Prof. Dr. Klaus L. Wübbenhorst directed the event.

? Public law in economic reporting broader and more profound than the competition.?

“Journalism as a business maker? - The media's responsibility for the economy ”was the subject of Thomas Gruber's lecture at the 122nd Chamber Discussion of the IHK. Gruber is currently chairman of the working group of public broadcasters in Germany (ARD) and has been director of Bavarian broadcasting since the beginning of 2002.

A basic rule of media reporting is selection, says Gruber. The media could therefore never completely depict reality, but only parts of it. This makes it clear that it is always about questions of interpretation, both with regard to the selection of topics and the preparation of a topic. The selection also follows the presumed interest of the reader or viewer. News factors would have a significant influence on reporting
like exceptionality, personalization and especially negativism. Negatively deviant behavior is perceived. The media are just a turbo that reinforces this already human tendency.

When reporting on the economy, a large part is based on statements from ministries, parties and politicians. The “highly complex structure of the economy” would be addressed primarily on the basis of the sub-aspects of unemployment, price levels, share prices and the “general situation”.

On the subject of unemployment, Gruber said that more reflection and less reflex would be good for journalism. The media should not play down such a serious problem as unemployment. But making it the sole subject of economic reporting is just as dangerous. Because then the effect occurs that the macroeconomic situation is only rated on the basis of an indicator and thus as extremely bad, worse than it is possibly. In Gruber's opinion, journalism is not an economic booster, "because that would mean that the media would have a direct influence on macroeconomic development". However, an indirect influence cannot be denied, which is also confirmed by a current empirical study carried out by Prof. Lutz Hagen at the WiSo faculty of the University of Nuremberg.

Whoever has power and influence also has responsibility. For the media, this means a responsibility towards politics, consumers and companies. One-sided reporting is able to change political majorities. Journalists are not only faced with the problem of objectively classifying and interpreting facts and figures without having a manipulative effect. In relation to consumers, it is important not to stir up their fear in addition and not to force the downward trend in consumption by supporting the “current bargain-hunter mentality” beyond advertising. If a company files for bankruptcy, you have to decide whether to report on the difficulties or withhold knowledge. In the first case, it could lead to a “self-fulfilling prophecy”: The media spread that a company is doing badly, and as a result it may be even worse. But to withhold information, of course, completely contradicts the self-image of a proper journalist. When it comes to stock market reporting, he is sometimes concerned, according to Gruber, at the power that analysts have.

As in all areas of the media, the ARD chairman identified a trend in economic reporting to address what has to do with superlatives and celebrities. He regrets that the middle and small ones often fell through the rust. In his opinion, economic reporting is approached “broader and more profound” by public law than by private lawyers. Furthermore, the federal structure of the ARD contributes to "taking up the perspectives of small and medium-sized companies in the regions". The fee financing is both a privilege and an obligation, not only to focus on what is well received by the audience, but also to always keep an eye on what information the viewers and listeners need in order to form a well-founded judgment. This is especially true in the field of economics.

WiM - Economy in Middle Franconia, issue 10 | 2005, page 14


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