Abstract: Tuning in to the State: The Supply of Economic News in Weimar Germany
This paper investigates how the German government used newly emergent wireless technology to tie traditionally anti-democratic big business to the new democratic Weimar state. In 1920, the German Foreign Office founded a news agency to supply stock exchange news through wireless to the biggest German companies. Called Eildienst, the company followed a business model of pricing others out of the market through use of expensive wireless equipment. The German government hoped that Eildienst would tie businesses to the state by reviving the German export economy and stabilizing inflation. The service spread swiftly outside Germany, and by the mid-1920s it constituted the major supplier of economic news to Austria, Eastern Europe, and the Baltic states. While historians have often thought that new technology makes news more accessible, Eildienst shows how the Weimar government used wireless to create an exclusive core of big business support and to attempt to promote German trade in Central and Eastern Europe. In sum, this paper demonstrates how wireless news formed a vital element of the political economy of the Weimar state, allowing it to disseminate different types of news to different target audiences and to influence business knowledge in a manner hitherto unexplored.