A business editor also has a heart and even feelings, especially a business editor. Also sees social need, suffers from it, would like to give more money to the needy, preferably unconditionally. He also finds that some managers are not an adornment of their status and that not everything runs as smoothly in companies as their bosses like to claim. But he also knows how difficult it is to find a remedy in each case, he knows many companies from the inside and has an idea of how they work and how much government pressure makes sense – and when it causes damage.
The business editor knows the structures of the labor market and the financial system, knows the difference between consumer spending and investments, knows that higher top taxes not only drain the “rich” but possibly also drive them away and the money necessary for investments flees with them. However, when he writes these things down, a business editor is usually isolated in the overall editorial team. He is considered cold-hearted, reactionary. A lot is already gained when colleagues then at least say: … but personal he’s really nice
Perhaps these are assessments from a more distant time, when many business editors (and far too few female editors) were still politically oriented, one could also say: market economy oriented. Regulatory policy sometimes makes you lonely. It all starts with the fact that normal people don’t really know what that actually is, or even don’t know at all: The term, which actually only exists in Germany, stands for all political measures that determine the legal framework of the economy – but not just in any way, but according to the principles of the market and competition. The freedom of the individual is important, but also the solid framework for it – you can see: not that easy, the whole thing.
There were glorious arguments between political and economic editors
Business editors used to be seen as conservative or “right-wing” (although, according to reliable observations, they often vote left-bourgeois, for example, many business editors were Green Party supporters from the start). Political editors tended to be on the left, at least in the case of the Süddeutsche Zeitung – oh dear, that comes across as quite clichéd. In any case, economic and political editors could always argue about the tasks of the state, globalization, Hartz IV and wealth tax.
But that was actually a while ago, because today significantly fewer business editors than before can do something with the slogan “As much market as necessary, as much state as necessary”, recognizable in the advance is the general longing that the state, the Government, the politicians should solve the problems of this world (sighs the aging politician). If the federal government announces a €200 billion protective shield, as has just happened, without immediately providing the details, and on top of that asserts that this does not affect the debt brake in the Basic Law, then that will be discussed intensively in the editorial office, but the number of them will be who express very fundamental doubts is smaller than it would have been 20 years ago.
However, that does not mean that today’s business editors are worse economists than the previous generation or even worse journalists. Certainly not the latter, the training is even better today, and more value is placed on journalistic skills (“the writing”) in the business editors of the republic than in the past.
Investigative research is becoming increasingly important
It’s actually a miracle how good business journalism still is. Because the business has become much more difficult, much more short-lived. There are hardly any embargoes until which one can still research, the competitive pressure, also from the Internet, is extremely fierce, the press departments of companies are riddled with former journalists who know all the tricks of communication, and here and there lawyers are waiting to protect the press pressure on behalf of their clients. And sometimes very hidden things take place in companies, which is also the prime task of business journalism to uncover, which is why the difficult field of investigative research is becoming increasingly important.
By the way: The job is still a lot of fun!
As far as the economy is concerned, it is of course also changing. New fields have been added, such as behavioral economics, and more and more young stars in the industry are working mathematically, empirically and through field research. There is less demand for adherence to regulatory principles, and that is reflected in the actions of business journalists.
It is fitting that access to the reader has also changed. Where it used to be primarily about bringing facts and figures to women and men, today it is much more about enabling easier access to the business section. The target audience is not only professionals and those primarily interested in business, but everyone who has to deal with money – and that means: actually everyone. That’s why more is explained than in the past, and it’s welcome to be a little more relaxed.
For example, the weekly interview “Let’s talk about money” was invented in this newspaper, in which not only business professionals have their say, but also artists, athletes, celebrities and philosophers. Also very popular are the useful items, which should help the reader to save a little money, make provisions for old age and see through the tricks of the insurance companies. The internal formula for this is “RUN”, which in English clearly indicates dynamics, which is not wrong either, but here is an acronym for relevance – entertainment – utility. But please keep that between us.