Posted tagged ‘Chrysler’

Good Econ/Bailout Writing

September 17, 2008

John Cole has already posted this link, but I thought I’d second his recommendation of David Leonhardt’s column from yesterday on the long term perils of the finger-in-the-dike school of bailout economics.

Leonhardt is one of the handful of really good mass-media econ journalists out there now.  From where I sit, econ writing for the public is in significantly worse shape than writing about the natural sciences, my own area of concern.  (Anyone out there disagree?  Hit the comments, please.)

Which leads to a kind of bleg:  I and some of my colleagues at MIT are thinking about whether we should try to expand the scope of what we consider science writing to encompass at least some of economics now.

Partly, this is missionary zeal — it seems like a real need if journalism in general is to serve any civic function. And in part this reflects both the history of the impact of economic thinking on at least some sciences (see e.g. Darwin’s acknowledged debt to Thomas Malthus) and the penetration of versions, at least, of a number of the ideas and methods of the natural sciences into contemporary economic thinking.   (See, for example, the emergence of behavioral economics as a sub-discipline.)

But before we actually do much about this — creating an econ. strand in our grad program on science writing, for example, or setting up the kinds of boot camps that the MIT Knight Fellowships run or anything else — it would be good to know what folks out there think the besetting problems are in the attempt to communicated economics to the public.

Any thoughts?

Image:  Poster for the “War of Wealth” by Charles Turner Dazey, a play that opened February 10, 1896.  This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs Division under the digital ID var.0760.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons.