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From Credit Crunch to Austerity Europe: how news narratives on the financial crisis are continually shifting and what this means for democracy

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The impact of news about the financial crisis on democracy

Insightful findings on how the media has framed and presented news about the economic crisis have provided food for thought on improving reporting, especially in dire times.


Ever since 2007, news about the financial crisis in the United Kingdom has been taking on different alarming labels such as credit crunch, banking crisis, sovereign debt crisis and eurozone crisis. The nature of the news flow on the topic has been influencing democratic processes and collective opinion in several ways, prompting the EU to investigate this phenomenon. In this light, the EU-funded NEWS FLOW (From credit crunch to austerity Europe: How news narratives on the financial crisis are continually shifting and what this means for democracy) project rose up to the challenge. It examined how news narratives on the economic crisis developed over the years and what this means for journalism’s role within democracies. Weighing in the ‘fake news’ phenomenon on the debate, the project team thoroughly analysed news items in five media outlets in the United Kingdom and conducted interviews with journalists regarding the coverage during the period in question. Interestingly, the project found that the crisis was constantly being reframed in the media, moving from recession to financial crash to debt crisis. As this was happening, new information was being added and old information seemed to be purposely omitted, hence forgotten. As a result, ‘hot’ solutions such as austerity or economic liberalisation took hold among the public, while other perhaps more viable options were side-lined. These startling findings show the power of the media in manipulating outcomes, whether consciously or unconsciously. The investigation was supported by a comprehensive research framework, with the results appearing in several articles, papers and a book chapter. The NEWS FLOW study reveals useful insight regarding journalism’s role in the economic crisis, enabling journalists to reflect on their reporting. In parallel, the findings are useful not only to academics and other stakeholders, but also for raising awareness among citizens. The latter can become more aware of how the media affects their decisions and how it sensationalises certain issues of its own choosing. Lastly, policymakers can use these findings to develop better media policy.


Financial crisis, media, credit crunch, NEWS FLOW, fake news, austerity, journalism

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