Barbara Brandstetter, Steffen Range: Wirtschaft. Basiswissen für die Medienpraxis [Business. Basic knowledge for media practice] reviewed by Ralf Spiller

There is little debate on the importance of business for both the state and society. Economic developments also play a vital role for every individual, affecting issues such as job security, the personal tax burden and purchasing power. This makes it even more surprising that large sections of the population pay little or no attention to the business news. In a study by the Allensbacher Institut für Demoskopie in 2015, business came in tenth in a survey of people’s favorite sections of media reporting, a long way behind local news, politics, sport and culture. Numerous other studies have come to the same conclusion.

In their compact book Wirtschaft from the Basiswissen für die Medienpraxis series, Barbara Brandstetter and Steffen Range investigate the question of why business journalism is so unpopular. But the authors do much more than merely answering this question and providing tips for how to improve the situation. Instead, they provide a clear, concise map of business journalism in Germany.

The book is divided into six chapters: Introduction (1), Role of business journalism (2), Actors and formats (3), Analyses and case studies form an academic point of view (4), Business journalism – prospects and outlook (5) and Service (6). The first chapter looks briefly at the history of business journalism, while the second outlines various schools of thought and types of media. The third chapter focuses on sources, forms of presentation and language in business media. A summary of previous – limited – research into business journalism in Germany is provided in the fourth chapter. Chapter Five presents around 15 theories on the business journalism of tomorrow. Finally, the Service section contains relevant literature and research sources for business journalists and a directory of advanced training institutions, journalism prizes and scholarships.

The book is very easy to read, divertingly broken up by short digressions on interesting cases in corporate reporting and brief interviews with leading business journalists. Unlike in many “How to” guides, the authors list their sources in line with academic texts. This gives the book further credibility and makes it a relevant publication not only for practitioners, but also for students and academics. The authors succeed in meeting the series’ aim of delivering books that have both an academic basis and a practical orientation.

The only point of criticism is that the sources are not always entirely up to date. The reader would be right to wonder why unique user figures from September 2015 are quoted for various online newspapers, when much more recent figures are available (cf. 52). Some of the books listed in the extensive bibliography also have more recent editions (e.g. Gehrau, Die Beobachtung, 2002, 2017).

However, this should not detract from the fact that the authors have succeeded in producing a work that is as substantiated as it is compact. One can only hope that it helps business journalism to become more appreciated by a wider section of society.

Translation: Sophie Costella


This review first appeared in rezensionen:kommunikation:medien (r:k:m).

About the reviewer

Ralf Spiller is Professor of Media and Communication Management at Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, Cologne.

About the book

Barbara Brandstetter, Steffen Range: Wirtschaft. Basiswissen für die Medienpraxis. Series: Journalismus Bibliothek, Vol. 4. Cologne [Herbert von Halem] 2017, 254 pages, EUR 18.50.