Why do so many journalists still promote growth as the solution to all our economic woes? Journalist Ferdinand Knauß (WirtschaftsWoche) takes a closer look at the origins of the growth paradigm in business journalism in his latest book – Wachstum über alles? – which was written during a fellowship at the IASS.
Providing public scrutiny is among the noblest of journalism’s duties. But when it comes to the economy, journalists tend to reserve their criticism for the nuts and bolts of policy and rarely question its designated goal of achieving ever greater economic output with each passing year. Policy that does not create the conditions for growth is deemed to have failed. But what political and business news desks present to us as a natural given is in fact a paradigm – an historically determined constellation of values and convictions.
Available from booksellers from 7 July 2016, the new book by historian and journalist Ferdinand Knauß – Wachstum über alles? Wie der Journalismus zum Sprachrohr der Ökonomen wurde. (Growth above all? How journalism became a mouthpiece for economists) – explores how and why the growth paradigm took root in business journalism and survived into the present day.
The origins of the symbiosis of economists, politicians, and business journalists – made possible by a fundamental shift in economic thinking – can be traced back to the crises-stricken decade of the 1920s. The growth paradigm had its decisive breakthrough in business journalism in the three decades following World War II, as Ferdinand Knauß shows in his historical analysis of leading German news media institutions Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Business journalism, Knauß argues, has not maintained the necessary critical distance vis-à-vis conventional economic thinking. In the absence of this critical perspective, journalists have failed to notice that the conditions which originally underpinned the growth paradigm no longer prevail.
Supplemented by exclusive interviews with renowned journalists such as Roland Tichy, Knauß’ examination of historical and contemporary newspaper content shows that in order to adopt a more critical stance, business journalists must break free from conventional economic thinking.
Ferdinand Knauß „Wachstum über alles? Wie der Journalismus zum Sprachrohr der Ökonomen wurde«, 192 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-3-86581-822-5, €24.95 (DE) / €25.70 (A). Also available as an e-book.