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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

Final Report Summary - NEWS FLOW (From Credit Crunch to Austerity Europe: how news narratives on the financial crisis are continually shifting and what this means for democracy)

The aim of the study was to discover how news narratives about the economic crisis beginning in 2008 have developed over time, and what this can tell us about journalism’s role within democracies. At a time when the economic turmoil unleashed by the 2008 financial crash has led to political turmoil around the world, and when “fake news” has been accused of playing a central role in the turbulence, it is important to subject journalism on the crisis to scholarly investigation. Quantitative and qualitative analysis was performed on selected UK news items from five mainstream outlets between 2007 and 2015. Interviews with journalists were conducted to discover their views on and experiences with the coverage. The research found that, as the crisis progressed from a financial crash to global recession to public debt crises, it was continually reframed in the media. Each time, new information was added while other information was forgotten. This reframing and forgetting led to certain responses to the problems – including austerity and further economic liberalisation – being presented as “common sense”, while other options were excluded from public debate.

The deliverables planned were: a book, two journal articles, a symposium, two outreach activities, and an edited volume. In addition, there were five training objectives: 1. To acquire greater specialised knowledge within journalism studies; 2. To improve the researcher’s methodological skills; 3. To improve the researcher’s collaborative skills; 4. To improve the researcher’s leadership skills; 5. Scholarly publications. The researcher, with the support of the scientist-in-charge and the host institution, has completed the work planned, including designing a research framework and performing quantitative and qualitative research on the news coverage of the crisis. She has written up the results in a book, the manuscript for which is in the final stages of completion. She has also submitted three related articles to academic journals, and has organised an international symposium on the media and the economic crisis as well as several outreach activities. She is lead editor on an edited volume on "The Media and Austerity" to be published by Routledge, for which she is also contributing a chapter and an introduction and conclusion. She has delivered eight conference papers and five guest papers. She has undergone training in line with the training objectives. She has forged collaborations with colleagues at the host institution, Cardiff School of Journalism, Media & Culture, as well as City University and Goldsmiths College in the UK, the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, and the Amsterdam School of Communication Research.

The study has a strong social dimension and possible impact, being about an important social institution – journalism – and its role in a crisis that has defined an era. It has several possible stakeholders apart from academics. The book is targeted at the general public, who can use it to inform themselves about the media coverage of the crisis and to help make decisions as citizens. The research can further be used by civil society organisations; by journalists to help them reflect on their reporting; and by policy makers when developing media policy. Further scholarly articles and media interventions are planned in the next period, and there will likely be possibilities to extend and develop the research in the years to come.