The Economist

One of the things I love about John Lanchester’s Whoops, is despite a strict determination to keep it to 200 pages, he’s still finds space for wonderful little asides.

“You get a glimpse into the world view [of myopic economics] when you look at the Economist. It is an excellent newspaper (a term they prefer to ‘magazine’) in particular full of good first-hand fact-finding. The first 80 per cent of almost every article is full of fresh things. But every single piece, on every single subject, reaches the same conclusion. Whatever you’re reading about, it turns out that the solution is the same: more liberalization, more competition, more free markets. However nuanced and original the detail in the bulk of the piece the answer is always the same; it makes The Economist seem full of algebraic formulas in which the answer is always x.”

Unfortunately (or fortunately) their consistency seems to be working. James Harkin in Niche, uses the magazine as an example of a media organization that has successfully shunned the mainstream. While Time‘s worldwide circulation has fallen from 4.07 million to 3.3million, and Newsweek’s circulation fell from 3.14million to 1.97 million in the last decade, the Economist‘s circulation almost doubled, from 720,000 to 1.4 million. Time and Newsweek now operate with less than half the staff they had in the 1980s.”

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3 Comments

Filed under Little things

3 responses to “The Economist

  1. nonfictionmonkey

    Presumably this disparity is partly down to genre, though – Newsweek and Time are general news/features publications, while the Economist is obviously more geared towards business, politics and, er, economics. This is pure pondering, but I imagine a fairly sizeable proportion of copies are sold through subscription, and that a similarly large number of these are paid for through expense accounts. You don’t have to be an economist (fnar) to see that Financial Services & the City aren’t exactly cutting back. More than anything, though, I reckon numbers are up for the same reason that as a book genre ‘Business and Economics’ has been booming the last couple of years, in stark contrast to a number of other nonfiction genres that have seen a decline: people want to understand what the hell is going on out there, and the Economist is one of those publications that promises to give you the answers…

  2. nonfictionmonkey

    In fact if you enjoyed Whoops and are interested in the plights of the newspaper industry, you should check out the excellent piece he wrote for the LRB recently about that very topic: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n24/john-lanchester/let-us-pay

  3. Pingback: Deadliest Killer in the Home? Stairs | Nonfiction Book Club

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