Broad social and international reporting on entrepreneurship in business newspaper De Tijd

Follow-up study into media discourse on entrepreneurship

In contrast to the Flemish television news, the newspaper De Tijd pays more attention to entrepreneurship. Most items are of a financial and economic nature, just like on the television news. However, the way in which De Tijd considers entrepreneurship from a broad social perspective is notable. In almost half of the articles, entrepreneurship is seen as part of life in society. No fewer than 10% of the entrepreneurship ¬articles are about ethics and sustainability. In comparison with the television news, civil society is significantly less active in the interpretation of the news and De Tijd also pays noticeably more attention to the international context in its reports.

This was shown in a study by Vlerick Business School, which looks at how entrepreneurship in all its forms is covered in the Flemish newspaper De Tijd. For this specific case study, Professor Hans Crijns and researchers Tine Holvoet and Dr. Astrid Van Steen once again made use of the Steunpunt Media (Media Policy Research Centre) archive. All articles published in De Tijd between 2003 and 2014 were scanned for the search terms ‘entrepreneur’, ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘enterprise’ and derivatives. This resulted in a selection of 5,405 articles that the researchers further refined to a dataset of 386 articles, in which the search terms also appeared in the title. The content of these articles was then analysed.

The follow-up study is linked to previous research into entrepreneurship on the Flemish television news. Researcher Tine Holvoet: “At that time, it was found that entrepreneurship was seen as newsworthy only to a limited extent in the Flemish seven o’clock news programme and that coverage also tended to be one-sided, despite the policy focus and political attention. In this additional study, we wanted to look at whether specialised media such as De Tijd - in contrast to the more general television news - reported on entrepreneurship in a different way. And apparently there are indeed notable differences.”

Rarely front-page news, but viewed from a broad, general social perspective

In contrast to the television news - where entrepreneurship is covered only briefly - we can see that De Tijd does indeed pay broader attention to entrepreneurship,” concludes Tine Holvoet. “The fact that we rarely find the search terms on the front page is interesting, however.” The lion’s share of the articles about entrepreneurship are in the general section of the paper. The search terms also appear in the title of a significant number of the opinion pieces.

Despite the varied context and content of entrepreneurship, the news in the newspaper, like the television news, is mainly of a financial and economic nature. “The focus in De Tijd is mainly on economy and work, followed by finance. Coverage of themes such as energy, environment and science is minimal (3.3%). We need to qualify this statement, however, as we find that a significant proportion of the reporting is from a very broad social perspective: in almost half of the entrepreneurship articles (42%), entrepreneurship is seen as part of social life. No fewer than 10% of the entrepreneurship¬ articles are about ethics and sustainability.

More attention to international news

Where the television news mainly focuses on Belgian entrepreneurship, 75% of the articles in De Tijd report on an international context. In the television news, this is just 12%.

Tine Holvoet: “In the very varied entrepreneurship reporting in De Tijd, more than 50 countries are covered. This is in sharp contrast to the television news, which only covers a few European countries (the UK, the Netherlands, France) plus South Africa, the US, the Congo and Japan. We do see, however, that an explicit link is almost always made with Belgium, in the newspaper reports as well. Only 8% of the entrepreneurship articles do not mention Belgium.”

Focus on the individual

Previous research has shown that the television news pays more attention to the entrepreneur as a person/company and less to entrepreneurship itself. This trend continues in De Tijd. Several different parties are also often featured within each newspaper article. This applies to both reported events and quotations.

Tine Holvoet: “The very large group of highly varied players is notable. In the 386 articles analysed, no fewer than 261 different stakeholders are mentioned by name. So there is no clear profile that comes to the fore. It is more often about individuals; organisations are mentioned less often and are also less frequently referred to by name. Only 6.5% of the individuals are female.” 

What is the content about?

In contrast to the television news, civil society is significantly less active in the interpretation of the news around entrepreneurship. The reporting is from a much broader social perspective.

  • Almost half the articles (40%) are about entrepreneurship as part of social life and focus on the importance of entrepreneurship. Attention is mainly paid to ethics and sustainability here.
  • Only 4% of the articles mention civil society. In contrast to the television news (16%), considerably less attention is paid to representation of interests.
  • It is notable that the term ‘entrepreneur’ is regularly used as an umbrella label (10.3%), although the core of the article is actually about other information.
  • The attention paid to government policy (13.5%) is similar to the television news (14%).
  • Awards and prizes receive less attention (3.7%, in comparison with 13% of the news items in the television news).
  • Noticeably less attention is also paid to fraud, misconduct and corruption (0.9% in comparison with 5% of the news items on the television news).
  • Finally, there is a serious lack of attention to the innovative side of entrepreneurship (2.6%).

Tine Holvoet, Prof. Hans Crijns and Dr. Astrid Vas Steen are linked to Vlerick Business School. At the Policy Research Centre Entrepreneurship & Regional Economics, they work on a wide conceptual framework that delivers insight into the entrepreneurial culture in Flanders. They call for an enrichment of the perspective on entrepreneurship.

Policy Research Centre Entrepreneurship & Regional Economics (STORE) advises the Flemish government on the basis of fundamental and applied top-level economic research within three domains; (i) start-ups and entrepreneurial capital, (ii) the development and continued growth of SMEs and (iii) the measurement and identification of economic clusters (with particular focus on the analysis and implementation of a new industrial policy). The Policy Research Centre has also been commissioned to develop a database of regional economic indicators.   

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