Introducing COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS to The Internet – in five minutes…
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: We think there is a problem with economics…
The Internet: Doesn’t everyone..?
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Ha. Hold on. There is actually a lot of excellent economics – the problem is with communicating economics.
The Internet: Given that’s the name of your blog, you would say that, wouldn’t you?
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Give us five minutes, OK? Here’s the problem. Can you tell us the definition of economics?
The Internet: Just Googled it. First result: ‘the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.’ Done.
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: *Sigh* Well that’s like saying medicine is the branch of knowledge concerned with eating, exercising habits and stool samples.
Economics is about so much more than wealth. It’s about people and what we do with the time and the resources we have.
But, given the lousy communication of economics – and sometimes even miscommunication – the public and the Internet can be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
The Internet: Go on…
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Part of the problem is the media – those whose job it is to share economics with a wider audience.
And at least some of the problem is down to economists themselves.
The Internet: I’m about to check my Snapchat… Why should I care?
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Some might say that the Brexit vote and the vote for Trump came about because the economics wasn’t communicated clearly enough. Another group might say that economics was clear but people just don’t trust economists – remember the 2008 crash? Yet another group might say that economics was heard but people decided to vote on other issues. And finally there are those who might say that some issues on economics were deliberately miscommunicated: slogans on the sides of buses and misleading reports on immigrants and trade.
Whatever you believe, the biggest political events in a generation have economics running right through them.
And the underlying tensions: those of globalisation, technology, migration, inequality and democracy – are all economic issues.
If economics doesn’t speak loudly and clearly enough on these issues we risk going back to the dark times of the 1930s.
The Internet: Whoa, getting a bit apocalyptic there…
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Maybe you’re right – but economics is serious.
The Internet: What’s this blog going to do then?
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: This blog thinks of communicating economics in the following way:
Economics is a language for understanding, explaining and influencing the real world.
Economists are the people who speak this language the best.
Then there are interpreters who translate this in to the language of the real world – these include PR, communications teams and the mainstream media, which we will group together as ’the media’. The media are fluent in both languages but perhaps not a native speaker of economics.
If you have ever tried to communicate through an interpreter, you will know that it’s partly your job and partly the interpreter’s job to communicate.
If you start using slang, colloquialisms and so on then your interpreter will have a hard time and the person you are aiming to talk to will have a harder time still.
This blog – COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS – is for those who speak the language of economics fluently and want tools and tips for communicating it with the wider world.
This blog is for native and fluent speakers of economics – in other words, economists, policymakers, the media and anyone who works in between.
The Internet: Surely economists are smart enough to do this themselves?
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Well it’s actually not that easy. Most economists are working on their own research and have to focus so much they can sometimes not see the wood for the trees. A lot of journalists are very well trained but not economists, so they can’t tell the wood from the trees.
It’s our belief that with the right tools and tips – that this blog will share – economists and the media can work better with each other.
Imagine Google Translate taking our definition of economics. We start with ‘Economics is about people and what we do with the time and the resources we have’ and after a few robotic translations taking it around the world, we end up with: ‘Economics people are, what we do so, our time and resources’.
The Internet: That last sentence no sense makes!
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Yeah, but it’s making a point. Somewhere amid all the translations, the meaning is lost. Often within economics, the real world passes through the filter of economic analysis (data collection, theory, modelling, statistics) and then comes out as a set of numbers and text to then be translated by the media. What we started off with made sense, but somehow through the work the reality gets lost.
That’s what this blog is all about. Getting back to reality.
Retracing the steps of the economist to get back to the real world we are all trying to understand, explain or influence.
While this can be hard, this should almost always be possible. After all, economics is looking at the real world, so should always be able to be translated back into a real-world setting. But it can’t be done by a robot, yet, we still need humans. Thankfully.
This blog IS NOT about using those tools and tips to deceive but to do what economists and the media set out to do: understand, explain, influence and make the world a better place.
We can’t promise miracles. Nor are we saying for a moment that good communication is a substitute for good economics. Good communications will not turn bad economics into good economics – but it will help good economics be understood and get the attention and reach the audience it deserves.
The Internet: That was longer than 5 minutes…
COMMUNICATING ECONOMICS: Sorry – we had to get that off our chest.
The rest of the site will be short and sweet, we promise.
Romesh & Bob