Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Economist 1986-2006. RIP.

I gave up on the Economist this year. I signed up in residency; it was fabulous back then. Smart, cool, analytic. It weakened in the early 90s, then it took a sudden dive around 1996. Maybe it had something to do with the color photos.

The year 2000 issue was a marvel, and there have been other moments of brilliance, but the US coverage has been generally abysmal. In retrospect when a "Liberal" (19th century version) magazine piled on Clinton for an extramarital affair the end was nigh. They even endorsed Bush the first time, though, mercifully, not the 2nd time. Over the past 8 years Lexington column came to read like a slighly less sloshed version of the WSJ OpEd page, and even their astounding African correspondents couldn't offset the craven and brainless US coverage.

Even now, when I've at last ended my subscription, it's still probably, on balance, better than the competition. It's just that I remember when it was truly great. The slow grinding decline in quality (even as revenues have risen!) has been demoralizing. Really, I might have held on -- but they made the writer of 'Lexington' their Editor. That was a foul blow.

I will miss it, but coincidentally to my departure they've put a lot more of the magazine online, and they've just added a blog. The blog is very good. So I'll read the online version, and the Atlantic and Scientific American, and I'll see if they can manage a recovery. I doubt it however, they've made tons of money since they became stupid.

Update: alas, I should have read a bit more of the blog. It's dumb. I just happened to catch a couple of good posts by chance. Scratch that one, their downward spiral just sped up a bit.

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