Media performance in the ‘age of austerity’: British newspaper coverage of the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, 2008–2010

Andrew Mullen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores how British newspapers framed the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession and austerity that followed. Analyzing a sample of 1586 articles published between 2008 and 2010, it focused on identifying the primary sources, main issues and key discourses. In common with other empirical studies of British media coverage of these events, this article reveals that the political and economic elite were dominant in terms of sourcing and that the main issues and key discourses featured in these articles reflected the elite perspective. Many politicians and corporate executives welcomed the brief Keynesian revival – in the form of the 2008 bailout of the financial system and the 2008 and 2009 economic stimulus – in order to prevent economic calamity. Newspapers reported these events in a factual manner and did not question them. By contrast, in 2010, as the elite attempted to redirect blame for the crisis away from bankers towards the state, much of the newspaper coverage presented public spending cuts as ‘necessary’ and ‘unavoidable’, while revenue-raising alternatives to austerity were ignored or marginalized. Unlike other empirical studies, this article attempted to explain such coverage and it employed the Herman-Chomsky Propaganda Model of mass media performance to do so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1011
Number of pages19
JournalJournalism
Volume22
Issue number4
Early online date17 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

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