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The History of The Economist Magazine

11.02.2009 · Posted in Business News Article

The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in an office in the City of Westminster, London. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843. While The Economist calls itself a “newspaper”, each issue appears on glossy paper, like a newsmagazine. In 2009, it reported an average circulation of just over 1.4 million copies per issue, about half of which are sold in North America.nnThe Economist claims it “is not a chronicle of economics.”Rather, it aims “to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.”It practices advocacy journalism in taking an editorial stance based on free trade and globalisation, but also the expansion of government health and education spending and the government support of banks and other financial enterprises in danger of bankruptcy. It targets highly educated readers and claims an audience containing many influential executives and policy-makers.nnThe publication belongs to The Economist Group, half of which is owned by the Financial Times, a subsidiary of Pearson PLC. A group of independent shareholders, including many members of the staff and the Rothschild banking family of England,owns the rest. A board of trustees formally appoints the editor, who cannot be removed without its permission. In addition, about two-thirds of the seventy-five staff journalists are based in London, despite the global emphasis.nnhe Economist does not print by-lines identifying the authors of articles other than surveys and special “by invitation” contribution. The editors say this is necessary because “collective voice and personality matter more than the identities of individual journalists.” Authors in most articles refer to themselves within articles as “your correspondent” or “this reviewer;” the writers of the titled opinion columns tend to refer to themselves by the title (hence, a sentence in the “Lexington” column might read that “Lexington was informed…”).nnThe editorial staff enforces a uniform voice throughout its pages, as if most articles were written by a single author, displaying dry, understated wit, and precise use of language.The paper’s treatment of economics presumes a working familiarity with fundamental concepts of classical economics. For instance, 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. However, articles involving economics do not presume any formal training on the part of the reader and aim to be accessible to the educated layperson. The newspaper usually does not translate short French quotes or phrases, and sentences in Ancient Greek or Latin are not uncommon. It does, however, describe the business or nature of even well-known entities; writing, for example, “Goldman Sachs, an investment bank.”nnMany articles include some witticism; image captions are often humorous puns and the letters section usually concludes with an odd or light-hearted letter. These efforts at humour have sometimes had a mixed reception. For example, the cover of the 20 September 2003 issue, headlined by a story on the Cancn WTO ministerial meeting, featured a cactus giving the *************. Readers sent both positive and negative letters in response.

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