The Economist

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<tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center;"> Image:Economist Eurabia cover.jpg
</td></tr> <tr><th>Editor</th><td>John Micklethwait</td></tr> <tr><th>Political allegiance</th><td>Economic liberalism (moderate Libertarianism)</td></tr><tr><th>Price</th><td>£3.25
€4.90</td></tr> <tr><th>Circulation</th><td>1,000,000 per week</td></tr>
Image:The Economist logo.png
TypeWeekly newsmagazine
(in UK, a registered newspaper)

OwnerThe Economist Group
FoundedSeptember 1843
Headquarters25 St James's Street


The Economist is a weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd edited in London, UK. It has been in continuous publication since September 1843. As of 2006, its average circulation topped one million copies a week, about half of which are sold in North America.

According to its contents page, its goal is to "take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress." Subjects covered include international news, economics, politics, business, finance, science and technology and the arts, but not sports (though articles about the business of sports are occasionally published). The publication is targeted at the high-end "prestige" segment of the market and counts among its audience influential business and government decision-makers.[1]

It takes a strongly argued editorial stance on many issues, especially its support for free trade and fiscal conservatism; it thus practises advocacy journalism.

The Economist calls itself a newspaper reflecting its legal status under long-standing company registration laws in its home territory, England[citation needed]. Unlike most newspapers it is printed in magazine form on glossy paper, like a newsmagazine.

The Economist belongs to The Economist Group. The publication interests of the group include the CFO brand family as well as European Voice and Roll Call (known as "the Newspaper of Capitol Hill"). Another part of the group is The Economist Intelligence Unit, a research and advisory company providing country, industry and management analysis worldwide. Since 1928, half the shares of The Economist Group have been owned by the Financial Times, a subsidiary of Pearson PLC, and the other half by a group of independent shareholders, including many members of the staff. The editor's independence is guaranteed by the existence of a board of trustees, which formally appoints him and without whose permission he cannot be removed.


[edit] Features

The Economist's primary focus is world news, politics and business, but it also runs regular sections on science and technology as well as books and the arts. Every two weeks, the newspaper includes, as an additional section, an in-depth survey of a particular business issue, business sector or geographical region. Every three months, The Economist publishes a quarterly technology survey.

Articles often take a definite editorial stance and almost never carry a byline. This means that no specific person or persons can be named as the author. Not even the name of the editor (from 2006, John Micklethwait) is printed in the issue. It is a longstanding tradition that an editor's only signed article during his tenure is written on the occasion of his departure from the position. The author of a piece is named in certain circumstances: when notable persons are invited to contribute opinion pieces; when Economist writers compile surveys; and to highlight a potential conflict of interest over a book review. The names of Economist editors and correspondents can be located, however, via the staff pages of the website.

The newspaper has a trademark tight writing style [2] that is famous for putting a maximum amount of information into a minimum of column inches. Since 1995, The Economist has published one obituary every week, of a famous (or infamous) person from any field of endeavour.

The Economist is known for its Big Mac index, which uses the price of a Big Mac hamburger sold by McDonald's in different countries as an informal measure of exchange rates. While whimsical, exchange rates in Western countries have been more likely to adjust to the Big Mac index than vice-versa. In January 2004, this index was joined by a Starbucks "tall latte index".

The newspaper is also a co-sponsor of the Copenhagen Consensus, a project for the promotion of global welfare.

Each opinion column in the newspaper is devoted to a particular area of interest. The names of these columns reflect the topic they concentrate on:

Two other regular columns are:

  • Face Value: about prominent people in the business world.
  • Economic Focus: a general economics column frequently based on academic research.

The magazine goes to press on Thursdays, is available online from Thursday evening GMT, and is available on newsstands in many countries the next day. It is printed in seven sites around the world.

The Economist newspaper sponsors yearly "Innovation Awards", in the categories of bioscience, computing and communications, energy and the environment, social and economic innovation, business-process innovation, consumer products, and a special “no boundaries” category.

The Economist also produces the annual The World in [Year] publication.

[edit] History

Image:The Economist May 16 1846.png
Front page of The Economist, on May 16, 1846
The August 5, 1843 prospectus for the newspaper[3], enumerated thirteen areas of coverage that its editors wanted the newspaper to focus on:
  1. Original leading articles, in which free-trade principles will be most rigidly applied to all the important questions of the day.
  2. Articles relating to some practical, commercial, agricultural, or foreign topic of passing interest, such as foreign treaties.
  3. An article on the elementary principles of political economy, applied to practical experience, covering the laws related to prices, wages, rent, exchange, revenue, and taxes.
  4. Parliamentary reports, with particular focus on commerce, agriculture, and free trade.
  5. Reports and accounts of popular movements advocating free trade.
  6. General news from the Court, the Metropolis, the Provinces, Scotland, and Ireland.
  7. Commercial topics such as changes in fiscal regulations, the state and prospects of the markets, imports and exports, foreign news, the state of the manufacturing districts, notices of important new mechanical improvements, shipping news, the money market, and the progress of railways and public companies.
  8. Agricultural topics, including the application of geology and chemistry; notices of new and improved implements, state of crops, markets, prices, foreign markets and prices converted into English money; from time to time, in some detail, the plans pursued in Belgium, Switzerland, and other well-cultivated countries.
  9. Colonial and foreign topics, including trade, produce, political and fiscal changes, and other matters, including exposés on the evils of restriction and protection, and the advantages of free intercourse and trade.
  10. Law reports, confined chiefly to areas important to commerce, manufacturing, and agriculture.
  11. Books, confined chiefly, but not so exclusively, to commerce, manufacturing, and agriculture, and including all treatises on political economy, finance, or taxation.
  12. A commercial gazette, with prices and statistics of the week.
  13. Correspondence and inquiries from the newspaper's readers.

In 1845 during Railway Mania, The Economist changed its name to The Economist, Weekly Commercial Times, Bankers' Gazette, and Railway Monitor. A Political, Literary and General Newspaper.[4]

[edit] Editors

The editors of the Economist have been:

[edit] Opinions

When the newspaper was founded, the term "economism" denoted what would today be termed fiscal conservatism in the United States, or economic liberalism in the rest of the world (and historically in the United States as well). The Economist generally supports free markets, and opposes socialism. It is in favour of globalisation. Economic liberalism is generally associated with the right, but is now favoured by some traditionally left-wing parties. It also supports social liberalism, which is often seen as left-wing, especially in the United States. This contrast derives in part from The Economist's roots in classical liberalism, disfavouring government interference in either social or economic activity. According to former editor Bill Emmott: "The Economist's philosophy has always been liberal, not conservative"[7]. However, the views taken by individual contributors are quite diverse.

The Economist has endorsed both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party in recent British elections, and both Republican and Democratic candidates in the United States.

A history of The Economist by the editors of puts it this way:

What, besides free trade and free markets, does The Economist believe in? "It is to the Radicals that The Economist still likes to think of itself as belonging. The extreme centre is the paper's historical position." That is as true today as when former Economist editor Geoffrey Crowther said it in 1955. The Economist considers itself the enemy of privilege, pomposity and predictability. It has backed conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It has supported the Americans in Vietnam. But it has also endorsed Harold Wilson and Bill Clinton, and espoused a variety of liberal causes: opposing capital punishment from its earliest days, while favouring penal reform and decolonisation, as well as—more recently—gun control and gay marriage. [8]

The Economist has frequently criticised figures and countries deemed corrupt or dishonest. For example, it gave editorial support for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. In recent years, for example, it has been critical of Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's former Prime Minister (who dubbed it The Ecommunist [9]); Laurent Kabila, the late president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Robert Mugabe, the head of government in Zimbabwe. The Economist also called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation [10] after the emergence of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse. Although The Economist supported [11] George W. Bush's election campaign in 2000 and as of October 2006 maintains vocal support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the editors backed [12] John Kerry in the 2004 election and the editorial tone has since become increasingly critical of the Bush administration because of its general disagreement with the paper's classical liberalism.[citation needed] The paper has also supported some left-wing issues such as progressive taxation, criticizing the U.S. tax model in a recent issue, and seems to support some government regulation on health issues (such as smoking in public areas) and income inequality (higher taxes for the wealthy), as long as it is done lightly.

[edit] Tone and voice

The Economist does not print by-lines identifying the authors of articles. In their own words: "It is written anonymously, because it is a paper whose collective voice and personality matter more than the identities of individual journalists." [13]

The editorial staff enforces a strictly uniform voice throughout the magazine. [14] As a result, most articles read as though they were written by a single author, displaying dry, understated wit, and precise [15] use of language. [16]

It does not explain terms like invisible hand, macroeconomics, or demand curve, and may take just six or seven words to explain the theory of comparative advantage. The newspaper usually does not translate short French quotes or phrases, and sentences in Ancient Greek or Latin are not uncommon. Even phrases in languages as obscure as Basque have been included[citation needed], relying on the above-average intelligence of its readers to glean meaning. It does however almost always describe the business of an entity whose name it prints, even if it's a well known entity. For example: "Goldman Sachs, an investment bank,"

It strives to be well-rounded. As well as financial and economic issues, it reports on science, culture, language, literature, and art, and is careful to hire writers and editors who are well-versed in these subjects.[citation needed]

The publication displays a sense of whimsy. Many articles include some witticism, image captions are often humorous and the letters section usually concludes with an odd or light-hearted letter.

[edit] Business

Circulation for the newspaper, audited by Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), was 1,138,118 for the first half of 2006. [17]. Sales inside North America were 53 per cent of the total, with sales in the UK making up 14 per cent of the total and continental Europe 19 per cent. The Economist claims sales, both by subscription and on newstands, in 206 countries.

The newspaper consciously adopts an internationalist approach and notes that over 80% of its readership is from outside the UK, its country of publication.

The Economist Newspaper Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Economist Group. One half of The Economist Group is owned by private shareholders, including members of the Rothschild banking family of England (Sir Evelyn de Rothschild was Chairman of the company from 1972 to 1989), and the other half by the Financial Times, a subsidiary of The Pearson Group. The editorial independence of The Economist is strictly upheld. An independent trust board, which has power to block any changes of the editor, exists to ensure this.

[edit] Letters

The Economist frequently receives letters from senior businesspeople, politicians and spokespeople for government departments, Non-Governmental Organisations and pressure-groups. While well-written or witty responses from anyone will be considered, controversial issues will frequently produce a torrent of letters. For example[citation needed], the survey of Corporate Social Responsibility, published January 2005, produced largely critical letters from Oxfam, the UN World Food Programme, UN Global Compact, the Chairman of BT, an ex-Director of Shell and the UK Institute of Directors. Letters published are typically between 150 and 200 words long.

[edit] Censorship

Sections of The Economist criticising authoritarian regimes, such as China, are frequently removed from the newspaper by the authorities in those countries. Despite having its Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, The Economist regularly has difficulties with the Lee dynasty, having been sued successfully by them for libel on a number of occasions.

The government of Saudi Arabia (among others) censors the magazine, which often appears on newsstands with missing pages. Some issues (such as one covering King Fahd's death in 2005) were banned from the kingdom.[citation needed] In June 15, 2006 Iran banned the sale of The Economist because of a map labeling the Persian Gulf as the "Gulf" [18]. Iran's action can be put into context within the larger issue of the Persian Gulf naming dispute.

Nelson Mandela stated in Part 8 of his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom that he used to receive The Economist while imprisoned in South Africa until the authorities there realised that it was not restricted to covering economic issues and was taking a very strong line against the apartheid regime. Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe went further, and imprisoned Andrew Meldrum, The Economist's correspondent there. The government charged him with violating a statute against "publishing untruth" for writing that a woman was decapitated by Mugabe supporters. The decapitation claim was retracted and allegedly fabricated by the woman's husband. The correspondent was later acquitted, only to receive a deportation order.

[edit] Popular culture

In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer is traveling by air in first class and says "Look at me, I'm reading The Economist. Did you know Indonesia is at a crossroads?" Four days later, with its customary dry wit, The Economist alluded to the quote, and published an article about Indonesia referring to the "crossroads". The title of the issue was "Indonesia's Gambit". [19] [20]

[edit] Further reading

  • Edwards, Ruth Dudley. The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist 1843–1993. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1993.

[edit] Notes


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

This audio file was created from an article revision dated 2006-07-12, and may not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)


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The Economist

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