Marginalising co-operation? A discursive analysis of media reporting on the Co-operative Bank
AbstractRecently there has been renewed academic interest in co-operatives. In contrast, media accounts of co-operatives are relatively scarce, particularly in the UK, where business reporting usually focuses on capitalist narratives, with alternatives routinely marginalised until a scandal pushes them into the public eye. This paper analyses media coverage of the UK’s Co-operative Bank (2011-15), tracing its transformation from an unremarkable presence on the UK high street to preferred bidder for Lloyds Bank branches, and its subsequent near collapse. The paper charts changes in reporting and media interest in the bank through five discursive frames: member and customer service; standard financial reporting; human interest, personality-driven journalism; the PR machine; and political coverage. Our analysis discusses three points: the politicisation of the story through covert and overt political values; simplification and sensationalism; and media hegemony. We argue that although moments of crisis provide an opening for re-evaluating the dominant reporting model, established frames tend to reassert themselves as a story develops. This produces good copy that reflects the interests of the publishers, but does not extend understanding of co-operative organisations. Thus the paper identifies the role of the media in delegitimising organisations with alternative governance structures, thereby promoting ideological and economic conformity. http://mc.
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