In a world of fake news, clickbait and vapid social media content, The Economist is a great bastion of journalistic excellence.
Sometimes, even supposedly quality newspapers seem to have cobbled their finance content together after a few beers on a Friday afternoon. But the deeply thorough approach of The Economist is a healthy, if sometimes rather sober, contrast. The publication prides itself on elegant writing, thorough research and fact-checking, and fresh and independent thinking.
In addition to its strong focus on macro themes, the paper also covers some investment and trading issues; and has an excellent business section that goes into depth on company news. For example, it recently ran incisive analysis on Ant Group's blockbuster listing in China; and on TikTok's mammoth legal battles in the US. This section also highlights interesting companies you may know less about, such as the recently listed Palantir Technologies.
The Economist was first published over 170 years ago. It is pro free-market economics and centrist politics, but covers political issues fairly and fearlessly - from corruption in America to violent repression in Russia and state manipulation in China.
I disagree with The Economist's unusual policy of anonymizing articles. This is designed to give it a uniform editorial voice, but I cannot see the benefits of denying writers their bylines – especially given the increasing importance of transparency and diverse voices in public debate. But articles do appear balanced.
The paper also avoids sensationalizing content to chase web traffic. Instead, it tackles the most pressing global issues, no matter how thorny. For example, a recent edition carried a 10-page report on the impending dangers that dementia poses to global populations and health services. Important this is - light reading it is not.
In mitigation - and as you might expect given the title – The Economist is never short of interesting and incisive graphs, statistics, and other visuals. It is not all about in-depth features either. The weekly print version offers neat digests of global news; and the publication is well abreast of the digital demands of modern consumers.
Subscriptions are available for print and digital; or digital only. This includes The Economist app - entitled Espresso - which offers 'a concentrated shot of global analysis, designed to be consumed quickly as part of your morning routine'. The digital edition is also available in audio, read by professional broadcasters.
Economist podcasts offer in-depth conversations with in-house journalists and experts. The paper also makes some excellent films, which recently included a must-watch interview about the Covid-19 pandemic with philanthropist Bill Gates by editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes; plus lots more visual coverage on the effects of the pandemic. The podcasts and substantial snippets of the films are available without subscription.
The Economist unashamedly targets a sophisticated, cosmopolitan audience – there is no geographical bias in its content, and the comprehensive coverage of different global regions is commendable.
Subscribing to the paper has an upmarket, exclusive feel, a bit like joining a private members club or buying a designer watch. They call it the 'Economist experience'. For me - and I am sure for most of its millions of other readers - that experience creates a general feeling of satisfaction.
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