Tag Archives: The Economist


Why are there no bylines in The Economist?


The Economist has a post explaining why it does not use bylines.

It writes, “Part of the answer is that The Economist is maintaining a historical tradition that other publications have abandoned. Leaders are often unsigned in newspapers, but everywhere else there has been rampant byline inflation (to the extent that some papers run picture bylines on ordinary news stories). Historically, many publications printed articles without bylines or under pseudonyms—a subject worthy of a forthcoming explainer of its own — to give individual writers the freedom to assume different voices and to enable early newspapers to give the impression that their editorial teams were larger than they really were. The first few issues of The Economist were, in fact, written almost entirely by James Wilson, the founding editor, though he wrote in the first-person plural.

“But having started off as a way for one person to give the impression of being many, anonymity has since come to serve the opposite function at The Economist: it allows many writers to speak with a collective voice. Leaders are discussed and debated each week in meetings that are open to all members of the editorial staff. Journalists often co-operate on articles. And some articles are heavily edited. Accordingly, articles are often the work of The Economist‘s hive mind, rather than of a single author. The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it. In the words of Geoffrey Crowther, our editor from 1938 to 1956, anonymity keeps the editor ‘not the master but the servant of something far greater than himself…it gives to the paper an astonishing momentum of thought and principle.’ The notable exception to The Economist’s no-byline rule, at least in the weekly issue, is special reports, the collections of articles on a single topic that appear in the newspaper every month or so. These are almost always written by a single author whose name appears once, in the rubric of the opening article. By tradition, retiring editors write a valedictory editorial which is also signed. But print articles are otherwise anonymous.

“Different rules apply on our website, however. A few years ago we decided to start using initials as bylines on our blog posts, to avoid confusion on our multi-author blogs (such as Democracy in America, which covers American politics). Our journalists can and do disagree with each other on our blogs, so we use initials to enable readers to distinguish between different writers.”

Read more here.

Economist greece

Economist celebrates 170 years, explains why it’s a “newspaper”


The Economist is celebrating its 170th birthday on Monday, and it writes why it still calls itself a newspaper even though it looks like a magazine.

The Economist writes, “In August 1843 when James Wilson, a Scottish hatmaker, published the prospectus for The Economist, a new periodical he planned to launch, he described it as ‘a weekly paper, to be published every Saturday’. The first issue, which appeared on September 2nd, described itself as a ‘political, commercial, agricultural, and free-trade journal’ on its masthead (we used Oxford commas in those days). To modern eyes the 19th-century black-and-white incarnation of The Economist is clearly a newspaper, and it looked very similar until the middle of the 20th century. The red logo appeared for the first time in 1959, the first colour cover in 1971, and it was only in 2001 that full colour was introduced on all inside pages. By the time the transformation from newspaper to magazine format had been completed, the habit of referring to ourselves as “this newspaper” had stuck.

“The Economist, moreover, still considers itself more of a newspaper than a magazine in spirit. Its aim is to be a comprehensive weekly newspaper for the world. If you are stranded on a desert island and can have only one periodical air-dropped to you to keep up with world news, our hope is that you would choose The Economist. That goal is arguably more in keeping with the approach of a newspaper than a magazine. The latter term derives from the French word for storehouse and implies a more specific publication devoted to a particular topic, rather than coverage of current affairs.

“Just as people still talk of ‘dialling’ phone numbers (even though phones no longer have dials) and CC (carbon copy) e-mails, some expressions outlive changes in technology. If the day ever comes when this newspaper is no longer published in paper form, but instead delivered digitally, it seems likely that it will still be calling itself ‘this newspaper’.

Read more here.


Economist Group names new CEO


The Economist Group has promoted Chris Stibbs, its finance director, to the position of chief executive, ahead of the departure of Andrew Rashbass, reports Maisie McCabe of MediaWeek.

McCabe writes, “Stibbs, who currently also holds the role of managing director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, will take up the position of chief executive on 18 July when Rashbass departs.

“Prior to joining The Economist Group in 2005 Stibbs was the corporate development director at Incisive Media.

“Stibbs was previously the finance director of the TBP Group and the managing director of the FT Law and Tax Division. He has also served as a non-executive director of Motivcom.

“Rupert Pennant-Rea, the chairman of The Economist Group, said: ‘The board is delighted to appoint Chris as its next chief executive.’”

Read more here.


Economist aims for college-connected readers


The Economist has begun an advertising campaign to lure more readers based on college campuses — students, professors and researchers — reports Stuart Elliott of The New York Times.

Elliott writes, “An effort that is to begin on Monday will carry the theme ‘Dare 2 Go Deep With The Economist’ – the numeral, presumably, echoing how so many members of the intended audience use shorthand when they communicate online and on mobile devices.

“Indeed, digital media is the primary way that The Economist and its new advertising agency, Atmosphere Proximity in New York, intend to disseminate the campaign, which has a budget of just under $1 million. The ads will urge turning to The Economist for a deeper, more thorough understanding of what goes on in the world.

“The centerpiece of the effort will be a special Web site, or microsite, dare2godeep.com, with content that includes video clips featuring comedians like J.B. Smoove, interactive games, information about The Economist and an offer for a free, two-week digital subscription.

“Social media will also play a major role in the effort, including a presence on Twitter that includes an account with the handle @Dare2GoDeep and a hashtag, #IgoDeep.

“The decision to reach out within campuses came from research that suggests many people start to read The Economist ‘after it’s recommended by a mentor, a professor, a parent,’ said Paul Rossi, managing director for the Economist Group and executive vice president for the Americas, who is based in New York.”

Read more here.

Businessweek 2012

Most biz magazines post decline in ad revenue, ad pages


Most of the large business magazines posted a decline in advertising revenue during the first three months of the year, while the overall magazine industry had a small increase in ad money.

Leading the decline was Bloomberg Businessweek, which had a 30.2 percent drop in ad revenue to $35.4 million, according to data released by Publishers Information Bureau. Its ad pages dropped 32.6 percent during the same time period to 228.52 pages.

Another big decliner was The Economist, which reported a 27.2 percent decline in ad revenue to $22.3 million and a 28.6 percent decline in ad pages to 330.88. And Forbes‘ ad revenue dropped 15.9 percent to $42.1 million, and its ad pages fell 19.6 percent to 266.03.

In comparison, the overall industry posted a 0.5 percent increase in ad revenue and a 4.8 percent drop in ad pages.

Bucking its competitors, Fortune was the only major business glossy to record an increase in the first quarter. Its advertising revenue rose 7 percent to $41.5 million, and its ad pages rose 0.3 percent to 272.94.

The large declines were also seen at some of the smaller business magazines. Black Enterprise, for example, saw its advertising revenue fall 35.4 percent to $3.7 million and its ad pages fall 34.3 percent to 80.41.

Harvard Business Review posted a 13.3 percent decline in ad revenue to $3 million and a 16.9 percent decline in ad pages to 63.80. And Inc. was down 9.7 percent in ad revenue to $6.9 million and down 11.9 percent in ad pages to 81.66.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, however, posted a 22.2 percent increase in ad revenue to $4.6 million and a 19.2 percent increase in ad pages to 64.27.

See all of the data here.



Economist accused of contempt in Bangladesh


A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal has accused The Economist of hacking the computer of its presiding judge to record conversations and read emails he exchanged with a lawyer.

The Associated Press writes, “The magazine did not directly address the charges, but said it is in possession of conversations and documents that raise serious questions about the workings of the tribunal.

“The tribunal is trying 10 opposition politicians on charges of arson, rape and other atrocities committed during the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

“Bangladesh says that during the war, Pakistani troops, aided by their local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped about 200,000 women.

“International human rights groups have called for fair and impartial proceedings and raised questions about how the tribunal is being conducted.”

Read more here.

Dow Jones & Co. Senior Management

The inside story on business reporting


John Wihbey of The Journalist’s Resource recently spoke with Greg Ip, the U.S. economics editor of The Economist, about his job.

Here is an excerpt:

JR: What are some pitfalls that young economics reporters should watch out for?

Greg Ip: Let cover a few things that are especially important for journalists.

Number one is the failure to consult the original source. It is amazing how many times you can read something, for example, in a news report or blog post and think you know what they’re saying, and then you just quote it – maybe changing a word or two. And then you realize you’ve completely misinterpreted it. As often as possible, you need to go to the original material. For example, if someone is talking about the unemployment numbers, don’t just quote from somebody’s news article. Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics itself. You’d be surprised at how often, looking at the raw data itself, the numbers are saying something different than you thought. And you often find something that you didn’t realize before in the numbers.

Also, be careful when you’re quoting a policymaker – for example, when the President addresses the country or gives an interview or makes off-the-cuff remarks at an event. Sometimes only one sentence or two will make it into the news. But when you consult the entire context of what was said it’s often a lot more interesting, and the context makes what was said very valuable. By the way, that’s true in all journalism, not just economic journalism

JR: What about specific errors to be mindful of?

Greg Ip:  People often confuse levels and rates of change. For example, people will often say, “Inflation rose last month by 1.7 percent.” What they meant was prices rose 1.7 percent. Inflation is itself a measure of a rise or fall. So inflation is 1.7 percent. That issue to a lot of people isn’t intuitive. You see similar misunderstandings when people talk about the debt and the deficit, or the difference between a stock and a flow. So you can have a debt one year and a surplus at the same time. How is that possible? It’s because you started with a debt of $100, then had an annual surplus of $2, so you end the year with a debt of $98. If you started with a debt of $100 and you ran a deficit of $2, you’d end up with a debt of $102. You need to understand these differences.

Read more here.


The secret to the Economist’s success


John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, spoke on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show”, along with Stephen Shepard, dean of the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and former senior editor at Newsweek and BusinessWeek.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

- The conventional thinking seems to be that in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, who needs a weekly news magazine? But why is Time successful and not Newsweek? What makes one magazine successful compared to another? “It’s that vague concept called editorial quality, by which I mean original stories that are not available elsewhere,” Shepard said. Publications that produce valuable content that readers are willing to pay for use the news for a forward-looking story that incorporates analytical thinking and is relevant not necessarily to what happened yesterday but to what the impact of yesterday’s news is.

- What’s the secret to The Economist‘s success? Micklethwait suggested that while editorial quality is important, it’s always subjective based on the individual reader’s preferences. Globalization and the rise of the mass intelligence, however, are two key macro-level factors that have made The Economist more relevant now than ever. “There’s a much bigger group of people at the top who want to get ideas as part of their diet.”

To listen to the complete interview, please click here.


The business media needs to improve its Twitter use


The business media use Twitter as a promotional tool and are not building an online community, according to research presented Friday by two Virginia Commonwealth University professors.

Vivian Medina-Messner and Marcus Messner found that the top business media outlets need to use Twitter as an online social network, not just another publication platform. “More attention needs to be paid to community building — use of hashtags, handles, retweets,” the wrote.

Their research was presented Friday at the 11th annual “Convergence and Society” conference at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. The conference, which is organized by the USC College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, this year is focused on business journalism.

The professors studied tweets, retweets, headline tweets, Twitter handle use, hashtag and link use by media and frequency of retweets by audience for nine major business media outlets between July and September. The business media outlets were the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times business section, CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg, Fortune, Businessweek and The Economist.

Of those media Twitter accounts, The Economist has the most followers with more than 2.3 million, while Fox Business has the least with 105,000. However, Bloomberg News uses Twitter the most, while Fox Business uses it the least.

However, nearly 45 percent of all business media tweets are simply headlines, and 99.8 percent simply link to internal links. Only one out of every six business media tweet uses a hashtag, and  only one out of every eight is a retweet.

Fortune magazine retweets (one-third of all of its tweets during the study time) the most, while The Economist does no retweeting. Fox Business Network uses hashtags the most, with more than half of its tweets having hashtags. It also tweets headlines the least of all of the business media.

On average, readers of The Economist Twitter feed retweet the most, or about 126 retweets per tweet, while followers of The Wall Street Journal Twitter feed retweet the least, with an average of 3.6 retweets per tweet.

Medina-Messner and Messner suggest that in-depth interviews with social media editors and reporters at business media could help better understand why some business news organizations use Twitter more than others.

American City logo

How biz media use consolidated media reporting


Sean Callahan of BtoB Magazine writes about how business news media such as American City Business Journals and the Economist are using consolidated media reporting, which measures how many people the media are reaching in print, online and through other media delivery formats.

Callahan writes, “The Economist began using the CMR earlier this year. Paul Rossi, managing director-exec VP, Americas, for the publication, said, ‘The response [from media buyers] has been, “This is great, but we want more.’ This isn’t perfect, but it’s the first step in transparency.’

“In its CMR, The Economist measures its print and digital paid subscribers (893,208); unique downloads of its app (255,825); average subscription price ($105.11); page views (14.9 million); monthly unique visitors (3.6 million) and Twitter followers (2.3 million).

“‘Increasingly, we are being asked by marketers to put together solutions that access all of our reach,’ Rossi said. He added that print requests for proposals have been flat so far this year compared with last year, but multimedia RFPs are up 30%.

“ACBJ’s Fisher said 45% of the company’s total audience is in print, while 55% is reached via email, websites, events and other media.

“Media brands see these multimedia reports as a means to focus on the quality of their audience (particularly their online audience) rather than the quantity of that audience. The goal is to avoid selling on a CPM basis, which many publishers view as a race to the bottom.”

Read more here.