Why The Economist is So Successful

I’m a loyal reader of The Economist. Clive Cook has an excellent piece in the National Journal on why The Economist has been so successful – both as a journalistic powerhouse and as a business. There’s a similar article in the TimesOnline (UK) which discusses the state of the magazine — er, "newspaper" as it likes to call itself — as its top editor is stepping down.

There are many reasons why The Economist rocks: single text for a global, intelligent audience. Topics span politics, business, books, and science. Consistently serious and hilarious coverage of the world. On and on and on. But for me, one reason trumps all: you can’t pigeonhole the magazine’s bias.

Most know The Economist as right-of-center since it’s staunchly free-market, pro-capitalist. Yet they endorsed John Kerry, they support abortion rights, etc.

People who haven’t changed their mind in 15 years or show no signs of confliction on tough topics are not very interesting. For me, there’s nothing more boring than hearing about some news event or product release or whatever and you know exactly where a commentator/pundit is going to stand. I know that Paul Krugman will always despise anything Bush does economically. So I don’t read him. I know that certain Mac aficionados are going to say the latest from Microsoft is always evil. So I don’t read them.

I want to read people who are guided by an underlying intellectual philosophy, not ideology. I want people who admit newfound uncertainties about positions they’ve held for a decade.

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