Economic Beat Journalists: Which Audience Perceptions, What Conception of Democracy?

Arjen van Dalen, Morten Skovsgaard, Claes de Vreese, Erik Albæk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Economic coverage often takes the perspective of the audience rather than financial insiders by applying news values such as domestication and identification, especially in democratic-corporatist countries and since the Great Recession. While research has looked into how this mainstreaming of economic news materializes in news content (role performance), less is known about the democratic motives and audience perceptions which drive this coverage (role conception). This paper argues that insight into democratic role conceptions and in particular economic journalists’ perceptions of their audience will help better understand the mainstreaming of economic news and its democratic consequences. The paper addresses the question: how do economic journalists perceive their journalistic role, and which view of the audience do these conceptions reflect? Conceptually, a distinction is made between the audience as citizen, consumer, and participant. This research question is addressed through a representative survey among the population of Danish journalists, including 50 economic journalists. Their views are compared to 52 political beat journalists, 40 health beat journalists, and 804 generalists. The results suggest that economic journalists primarily see their journalistic role in the light of the competitive model of democracy, informing and advising, but not empowering citizens by fostering participation or facilitating deliberation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1272-1288
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Economic beat
  • economic news
  • journalists’ audience views
  • mainstreaming economic news
  • role perception
  • role performance


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