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Media Industry: The Economist

Posted on Friday, Aug 7th 2009

Please read this article from The Atlantic: “The Newsweekly’s Last Stand”. It analyzes why The Economist can grow amidst this global implosion in media, and reinforces what I have been saying all along: quality is the answer. But in this article, Michael Hirschorn offers an excellent analysis, comparing The Economist to other magazines.


The Economist saw its advertising revenues increase last year by double digits—a remarkable 25 percent, according to the Publisher’s Information Bureau. Newsweek’s and Time’s dropped 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively. (The Economist’s revenues declined in the first quarter of this year, but so did almost every magazine’s.) Indeed, The Economist has been growing consistently and powerfully for years, tracking in near mirror-image reverse the decline of its U.S. rivals. Despite being positioned as a niche product, its U.S. circulation is nearing 800,000, and it will inevitably overtake Newsweek on that front soon enough.

Unlike its rivals, The Economist has been unaffected by the explosion of digital media; if anything, the digital revolution has cemented its relevance. The Economist has become an arbiter of right-thinking opinion (free-market right-center, if you want to be technical about it; with a dose of left-center social progressivism) at a time when arbiters in general are in ill favor. It is a general-interest magazine for an ever-increasing audience, the self-styled global elite, at a time when general-interest anything is having a hard time interesting anybody. And it sells more than 75,000 copies a week on U.S. newsstands for $6.99(!) at a time when we’re told information wants to be free and newsstands are disappearing.


This segment is a part in the series : Media Industry

. The Answer Is Quality
. The Economist

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News is dead as a business. Analysis, on the other hand, is valuable and will remain so. The Economist is about analysis.

Rob K. Friday, August 7, 2009 at 1:11 PM PT

I agree with you. The Wall Street Journal can be a much better newspaper if it veered away from news, and focused on much more sophisticated analysis. Same with Forbes, Fortune, and the rest.

As it stands, they’re all caught in the middle, trying to do breaking News, often with inadequate analysis.

Sramana Mitra Friday, August 7, 2009 at 1:18 PM PT