It’s the economy — are we stupid?

How prepared are journalists to analyze and report on economic issues?

— How many of us know how to read a balance
— How many are familiar with economic or financial
terms? (Quick: who coined “creative destruction”?)
— Know
any economic history or can put political positions in context? (Every
day there are stories about the Canadian Conservative’s and American
Republican’s “strength” in managing an economy. Challenging that one
with a straightforward comparison of economic performance and the
government deficit with the party in power should be like shooting
apples in a barrel — but every story accepts the statement on blind
— How many political journalists have taken the
Canadian Securities Course? (A requirement when I was a business
reporter many years ago.)
— How many economics courses are
offered/taken in journalism programs?
— Why is the reporting
on the carbon tax — not a contentious issue in the
economically-competitive northern European countries — so superficial?

— Why is the GST boiled down to a simple tax with no
context about how it replaced the onerous manufacturers sales tax?

Why do almost all “political” stories that quote
any politician talking about any of the above lack any

I think a lack of basic — let alone
nuanced — economic literacy is a key failing of mainstream media.
Economics matters, and it affects all the other issues. I doubt the
media is any more competent now than journalists were when we got
slammed over our extreme failures to report on the first Nortel
meltdown or Enron or the S&L scandal or what led to this month’s
financial meltdown.

Canada’s economy has become a
key election issue — but I suspect most journalists remain narrow
English and Humanities majors. Anecdotally, I’ve observed that many
journalists who do write about the economy do so from an
ideological perspective that would be unacceptable in any other field.
Are we informed enough to help inform our audience prior to a crucial
general election?