Newest Review: ... name, the economist offers far more than an economic perspective of the world. The Economist offers a different perspective on world news, ... more
Fed up with the press? Here is your solution.
Member Name: CleoCat2007
Advantages: In depth, informed analysis of the issues that really matter
Disadvantages: It's sometimes hard to get through it all in just one week!
It was my husband who introduced me to The Economist and I have been a devotee for around 5 years. We have a subscription now which costs £27 per quarter, and it's great to hear the magazine hit the doormat on a Friday. I have never been much of a fan of daily newspapers, finding the broadsheets too large to handle and not enjoying the inky smell on your fingers, and the tabloids are just appalling - celebrity gossip, product placement and incitement to riot all dressed up as "news". The Economist is the perfect solution - it's a magazine so convenient in size with no inky paper, and it only deals with newsworthy topics - not a celebrity story in sight. The fact that it is weekly rather than daily is also an advantage, as each story is reviewed fully with research behind it and real insight applied, rather than a quick few hundred words belted out to meet a deadline with no understanding of the issue. In this day and age most of us get the headlines from TV or the Internet, so what we need is in depth analysis of the many issues we face, not just massive fonts telling us the latest scandals.
The magazine has a structure that is pretty much unvarying. First up are the Politics and Business pages which have short paragraphs summing up the week's main news items in those two areas. Next are the Leader articles, the first of which is advertised on the front cover. The magazine has truly international coverage, so the Leader articles in the July 23rd-29th 2011 edition look at the dilemma facing Rupert Murdoch, the need for economic reform in India, the career of Hugo Chavez, mandatory quotas for women executives and the "one-child" policy in China. These articles are always fantastically informative, and it is so refreshing to see genuinely important issues up front in a news publication.
The Letters page is next and I have to admit I rarely read it, but as the readership is as international as the coverage you do get to see views from around the world rather than the predictable "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells". There is a Digital Highlights page advertising items to be found on The Economist's website, and then come the jobs pages. These pages are called "Executive Focus" and for readers like me who do not aspire much higher than the average office job these pages are pure entertainment. Where else can you find adverts to be a Program Leader for a think tank in Canada, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council or Vice President for Sustainability at a gold mining company?
The Briefing comes next and this is usually a further exploration of the topic in the first Leader article. Many of the articles in The Economist are accompanied by tables and graphs showing the relevant facts and figures, and the articles do deal mainly in facts and ideas that can be backed up by research. If an opinion is expressed it tends to be along the lines of "this publication believes" so you are left in no doubt that you are being told the views of the writers, rather than the writing style being consistently slanted in order to push you towards the side of the journalist. It is also worth noting that the writers are anonymous (although Wikipedia reveals the identities of most of the columnists) - according to Wikipedia "the editors say this is necessary because 'collective voice and personality matter more than the identities of individual journalists'". This results in the magazine having a collective tone that is consistent throughout and which leaves the reader to judge the issues of the day for themselves.
The central pages of The Economist are made up of global sections, namely Britain, Europe, United States, The Americas, Middle East and Africa, Asia, and International. A number of these sections have their own columnist, e.g. Charlemagne for Europe, the identity of whom changes but whose pseudonym stays the same. The columnists' pages are a little more opinionated than the rest of the publication, as you would expect, but the emphasis is still on substantiating claims and giving background to the issues discussed. On occasion The Economist includes a Special Report, and this will be a series of articles running to many pages on a topic that has been THOROUGHLY researched by the journalists involved. If you are reading about a topic in this publication, you can rest assured that key information will never be left out in order to pander to a particular political spectrum, so you will come away informed rather than humoured.
Towards the back of the magazine are the Business, Finance and Economics, and Science and Technology sections. Following these is the Books and Arts section which includes book reviews, and finally there is the Obituary. This is always a page long and is by no means reserved for the most famous person to have died that week - it seems that the writer instead chooses the most interesting person to have passed away. The Obituary is always a fascinating read, and a frank and rounded view of the person in question.
You may be getting a sense that I am a little evangelical about this publication, and you'd be right. I cannot stress enough how different it is not only from the daily newspapers but from TV news coverage as well. How often do we feel that we fully understand a topic when it has been touched on in the TV news or splashed across the front pages? How often is a topic fully researched by tabloid journalists, with all sides of the story covered and facts and figures included? How many important news stories are overlooked entirely by other media because they are too "boring" or too "complicated"? We are fed a diet of soundbites and press releases and are given no real understanding of the world around us. The Economist is the antidote to all of this, as all important issues are covered and topics are returned to for further analysis long after the attention of the papers has moved on.
On the Contents page of The Economist there is a small note stating the publication's mission statement since it first became available in 1843: "to take part in 'a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress'". I cannot think of a better summation of why I have chosen to ditch the dailies and simply read The Economist every week.
Summary: If you want to know about what really matters in the world, read The Economist