Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Economist: a semblance of clever

I think CT nails the modern Economist magazine:
Crooked Timber - Are you smart enough to enjoy the Economist?

....The Economist succeeds in part by delivering a particular party line that accords well with the prejudices of many of its readers (Friedman quotes an acquaintance as saying that he loves the ‘unpredictability’ of the Economist which is quite odd; by the time I gave up on it, I could tell nine times out of ten what the magazine was going to say on a topic by looking at what the topic was). But it also serves as a kind of aspirational good. The Economist flatters readers who aren’t quite intelligent enough to realize how shallow it is into thinking that they are more intelligent than they are because they read it....
It wasn't always this way. Fifteen years ago The Economist was a great "newspaper", but over the past decade it has become dull. I imagine a group of dedicated UK journalists swamped by one dimensional invaders from the Wall Street Journal, but I don't know what really happened.

I no long subscribe, but I do follow a few select feeds. The obits are almost always very good. Science and Technology, The Arts, and Africa have their moments. They still have some fantastic Africa journalists; few other media sources have any kind of Africa coverage at all. This week's coverage of the Lhasa riots reminds us that they still have some brave journalists in the field. Alas, most of the magazine is a better written and more pompous version of Time.

Like CT, I can understand why Tom Friedman would be a fan of the modern Economist.

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