An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Why Economist succeeds and Newsweek/Time may close down

Economist.jpgThere is an interesting article on “The Atlantic” site, that the news-weeklies like Newsweek and Times are in trouble due to the digital onslaught. Of most top news magazines, there is only ONE that stands out – The Economist.

TO understand the difference, here is a stat: in the last year, while Newsweek’s and Time’s advertising revenues dropped 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively; Economist saw an increase of 25% in its Ad revenues. Now, mind you this is despite the fact that Economist’s subscription is more expensive than the two US mags. In fact on US newsstands it sells at $6.99.

Although, the writer of the article, Michael Hirschorn writes as if his ego has been badly stung as an American – in the way he criticizes the Economist and its writing as well as presentation style.. it is undeniable, that Economist has a class that Newsweek and Time do not signify… at least in the eyes of people outside the US.

But even more importantly, the American Magazines and editors JUST DONT FREAKING GET IT! They have NO idea on what the word “International” means??!! While 90-98% of the Cover and Lead Stories in Newsweek and Time deal with US-ONLY stories, those in Economists are from the world over. In fact, if you want to know about the world news, all you need to do is to read the first 10 pages of Economist any week and you are done. You will get a very comprehensive and very incisive analysis of news from the world over. Newsweek and Time meanwhile is ONLY for the American audience.

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The writer is astonished that while the rest of the news magazines are hit by digital revolution badly, Economist stands out as being buoyed by that revolution. Well, for one thing, the Economist covers issues that very few blogs cover and in a manner that very few cover. Meanwhile, its US counterparts deal with the issues in US, which are staple of the American bloggers… who would have beaten them to death!

What is true of the tussle between Economist and Newsweek/Time is actually very symptomatic of the difference between the news coverage by US media versus the British media. In fact to get a good idea of the difference, watch CNN and then watch CNN International (which is broadcast by the British staff). There is a world of difference in the choice of the topics, the treatment, the depth, the sensitivity and the news content itself. I think only ONE US media is an exception – National Public Radio (NPR).

So, I think the news fraternity needs to get some basic lesssons in Internationalism from their President in the US. Specifically, go to him and understand the true meaning of the word. If your International boundary stops at Washington DC, then why blame anyone else?

What do you think? Which magazine do you think is worth your money and why? Moreover, what do you think of news coverage by the US media versus the British media?

Reference Links:

1. The Newsweekly’s Last Stand

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26 Comments
  1. Prem says

    As a riposte to this article, here is a quote from Newt Gingrich, a much interviewed (by the US media) and respected leader in the U.S.: “Let me be very clear, I’m not a citizen of the world”.

    He was trying to say that he is a citizen of the U.S. and that compared to that he cares little or nothing about the obligation he may have to the rest of the world.

    This is not a Republican idea; this is an American intellectual thing, though people on the political-right like Ronald Reagan certainly affirmed and promoted America as the ‘shining city on the hill” which ‘can’t do any wrong’. As an effect of this you see that Republican and Democrat US Administrations alike have always asked for a special status for the US in all International treaties and do not recognize the International Court of Justice because they don’t want to allow any Americans to be tried there (the Court is well known for prosecuting for war crimes). The rest of the world after all isn’t that important.

    At the same time, the US supports the Court in prosecuting the leader of Sudan, Bosnian Serb Leaders Karadzic/Milosevic and other tyrants.

    On the other hand, Britain is a tiny nation that knows that its International exposure and history is a key advantage to be leveraged as a diplomatic card – they certainly don’t have the size or might of the United States. So the Brits look outward. Besides the Economist, they have other highly successful examples (not to mention British diplomacy) like Amnesty International, Lloyds (the king of maritime insurance), the BBC (largest broadcaster in the world) etc

  2. Prem says

    As a riposte to this article, here is a quote from Newt Gingrich, a much interviewed (by the US media) and respected leader in the U.S.: “Let me be very clear, I’m not a citizen of the world”.

    He was trying to say that he is a citizen of the U.S. and that compared to that he cares little or nothing about the obligation he may have to the rest of the world.

    This is not a Republican idea; this is an American intellectual thing, though people on the political-right like Ronald Reagan certainly affirmed and promoted America as the ‘shining city on the hill” which ‘can’t do any wrong’. As an effect of this you see that Republican and Democrat US Administrations alike have always asked for a special status for the US in all International treaties and do not recognize the International Court of Justice because they don’t want to allow any Americans to be tried there (the Court is well known for prosecuting for war crimes). The rest of the world after all isn’t that important.

    At the same time, the US supports the Court in prosecuting the leader of Sudan, Bosnian Serb Leaders Karadzic/Milosevic and other tyrants.

    On the other hand, Britain is a tiny nation that knows that its International exposure and history is a key advantage to be leveraged as a diplomatic card – they certainly don’t have the size or might of the United States. So the Brits look outward. Besides the Economist, they have other highly successful examples (not to mention British diplomacy) like Amnesty International, Lloyds (the king of maritime insurance), the BBC (largest broadcaster in the world) etc

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