Media Economics: Understanding Markets, Industries and Concepts

Article excerpt

Media Economics: Understanding Markets, Industries and Concepts. Alan B. Albarran. Ames, IA: Iowa State Press, 2002. 229 pp. At a recent conference of journalism teachers, three newspaper editors were asked what students should know about the "business of journalism." All three agreed that students need a better grasp of the economic forces that buffet media organizations today. They need that understanding, the editors argued, because these economic forces will influence what the students can accomplish when they become journalists.

Media Economics: Understanding Markets, Industries and Concepts is a primer that can help lead to the understanding that the editors called for. Now in its second edition, the book provides an overview of basic economic principles and then applies those principles to the U.S. industries and organizations in which many journalism students will work.

The author, Alan B. Albarran, chair of the department of radio, television, and film at the University of North Texas and editor of the Journal of Media Economics, clearly understands the undergraduate audience for which this book is best suited. First, he keeps the reader focused. The start of each chapter highlights the key points that are to be explained. Then, he reinforces what's just been learned. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions and exercises that apply economic principles to real-world situations. The content is framed broadly enough that it is appropriate not only as a text for courses on media economics but also for classes on media and society or media management. Though economic jargon is unavoidable in a book such as this, it is kept to a minimum. Concepts are clearly defined. Explanations are accessible. Tables and illustrations are plentiful.

The book is broken into two major sections. The first is an overview of economic principles. While it is not a substitute for introductory courses in micro- and macroeconomics, it does cover basic terms such as supply, demand, the market, competition, monopoly, price elasticity, and so forth. The treatment of these concepts is always geared around the U.S. industries that make what we read, see, and hear. For journalism or mass communication students, the application of these concepts to their professional world is always apparent.

Perhaps the most complicated part of this first section is the presentation of the industrial organization model, which introduces the concepts of market structure, market conduct, and market performance. …