I had a chat with a teacher today. We were discussing what type of newspapers/magazines I should be reading to better inform myself on current affairs. We were discussing what publications would be best for me, when she made a joke about how the right-wing staff at the college would undoubtedly recommend me to read the right-wing publication, The Economist, just as they often do with other students.
At the time, I wasn’t particularly concerned about this claim. The Economist is regarded to be almost a Bible to economists, whether they be aspiring economists, seasoned or executive. Surely it’s not that surprising that members of staff are stressing the importance to students to frequently read such an esteemed publication?
Only when I returned to my boarding house, and see a multitude of The Economists sprawled across the reading room tables and shelves, did I begin to comprehend the possible problems of some teachers’ blatant love and preference of The Economist over every other economic or political publication.
The publication has always had a reputation for displaying a neo-liberal, right-wing approach to economic and social matters. The Guardian has written that “its writers rarely see a political or economic problem that cannot be solved by the trusted three-card trick of privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation”. This notion is exemplified by the fact that since it began endorsing parties in 1955, The Economist has endorsed the Conservative Party in almost all general elections, bar three.
Yes, I know that every newspaper/magazine/website/organisation has a political agenda – it’s impossible to find one without.
Yes, at least the Economist isn’t Fox News, or MSNBC, or the Daily Mail; it offers balanced views on most issues. But that isn’t the point.
The point is that even though this reputation for advocating right-leaning beliefs does not necessarily damage its general credibility as a reliable source of information, containing substantial educational value for all economists, it does become a concern when the publication is depicted by people as an authoritative overview of matters. This is especially dangerous and problematic in schools, where students are only just beginning to formulate their own beliefs and their own ideals.
The Economist cannot be depicted by teachers as an unrivalled, undisputed source of knowledge and information. Students must be made aware of the vast pool of differing opinions and outlooks that exist in the world today, and encouraged to dissect what often seems to be fact, but in fact, is mere opinion.
Students need to have a drive for evaluation instilled in them. This can only be done by having a wide range of resources available. Reading publications such as the New Statesmen, a self-professed left-leaning magazine, that offers a differing view to The Economist should be encouraged; only then can students become evaluative, intuitive, and be able to form original and genuine ideas.