Voice of the global elite

by

Aram Bakshian Jr. writes for The National Interest about Economist magazine and how it has become a must read for business people and politicians across the globe.

Bakshian writes, “Admittedly, there are times when the Economist leans a little heavily on plummy English props and mannerisms. Michael Lewis, the popular American financial writer and author of Liar’s Poker, once attributed the magazine’s sometimes laboriously polished prose and tone to the fact that the Economist ‘is written by young people pretending to be old people,’ adding that if American readers ‘got a look at the pimply complexions of their economic gurus, they would cancel their subscriptions.’ This may be the reason almost all of the publication’s articles still lack bylines, much less accompanying photos of the writers. Besides, that hint of pseudo-Dickensian creakiness in its prose is part of the Economist’s charm and its distinctive brand. It also helps to explain its success among educated English speakers around the world who still prize good writing that requires a modicum of sophistication and literary grounding on the part of its readers rather than being written down to the lowest common denominator. As for Fallows, someone should have reminded him that, for the most part, ‘smarty-pants’ tend to be much better writers than sans culottes.

“The American journalist who has come closest to pinning down the Economist’s winning formula is Michael Hirschorn, in a perceptive essay in the July/August 2009 issue of the Atlantic. He suggests that the secret of the Economist’s success

is not its brilliance, or its hauteur, or its typeface. The writing in Time and Newsweek may be every bit as smart, as assured, as the writing in The Economist. But neither one feels like the only magazine you need to read. You may like the new Time and Newsweek. But you must—or at least, brilliant marketing has convinced you that you must—subscribe to The Economist.

“This may explain how an idiosyncratic publication — produced by an allegedly pimply writing staff of about seventy-five from a cramped space in London’s St. James’s quarter — has proved to be David to rival American Goliaths such as Time and Newsweek.”

Read more here.