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Spinning journalists out of an economic success story

British fashion designers, musicians, artists, graphic designers, film makers and actors are responsible for one of the most remarkable economic feats in history, if you believe the spin put on the so-called “creative industries”. This sector of the economy is the third largest employer in the country, the second in London where only the financial institutions provide more jobs, according to reports.

Under the heading “Cool Britaina learns to flex its financial muscles” the Observer media page looks at the creative industries. It does draw the sector a little bit more broadly saying it includes “music, design, advertising and broadcasting”. But the spin is there in this extract:

Britain’s rich musical heritage, like its successful fashion designers, are often regarded as cultural assets that make only a small contribution to the national economy.

But they are wielding increasing financial clout as the country reduces its reliance on traditional sectors. “The creative industries sit alongside manufacturing and financial services in terms of their place in the British economy,” says Shaun Woodward, the former BBC producer who was made a junior minister at the Department for Culture Media & Sport earlier this year.

What makes this odd is that the two largest components of the “creative industries” are not mentioned at all in this article and seldom in others. They are publishing, including newspapers and magazines, and computer software, games and electronic publishing. Together they employ close on half the people sector and contribute around half the exports and half the value added.

If we add in broadcasting, the third largest component, it makes it look as if journalists are a pretty important part of a growing part of the British economy. Unfortunately, I can’t find the statistics to support this view or to compare the contributions of journalists to those of artists and actors to the future wealth of the nation.

But a report by Frontier Economics for the DCMS says that in 2004 newspapers, journals, periodicals and news agencies employed 128,000 people, had a turnover of £14.6bn and produced a gross value added of £7bn. The magazine business is larger than newspapers.

Odd that on a media page of all places journalists should be spun out of an economic success story.

Additional source: The Department of Culture Media and Sport’s Creative Industries Economic Estimates Statistical Bulletin, published last month.


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