20 May Who writes for The Economist?
The Economist is a popular international affairs magazine published on a weekly basis. It was established in 1843 and currently has a circulation of about 1.6m copies. I’m a big fan of this publication and I believe their articles to be largely objective, as seen through a lense of pro-globalization and economic liberalism though. I recently had a discussion with a friend who claimed that most correspondents were recent graduates with little experience in politics, business and life.
All articles at The Economist, except for columns and blogs, are published anonymously. The newspaper states:
Why is it anonymous? Many hands write The Economist, but it speaks with a collective voice. Leaders are discussed, often disputed, each week in meetings that are open to all members of the editorial staff. Journalists often co-operate on articles. And some articles are heavily edited. The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it. As Geoffrey Crowther, editor from 1938 to 1956, put it, anonymity keeps the editor ‘not the master but the servant of something far greater than himself. You can call that ancestor-worship if you wish, but it gives to the paper an astonishing momentum of thought and principle.’
One could argue that it is anonymous to hide the inexperience of the writers and editors. Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, says just that. He argues that
The magazine is written by young people pretending to be old people [… and] if American readers got a look at the pimply complexions of their economic gurus, they would cancel their subscriptions in droves. In 1991, The Atlantic wrote that success of The Economist in the United States stems, firstly, from their ability to exhibit popular views that would be seen as
boosterism if written by an American newspaper; and secondly, from their Oxford-style debate which is able to
sound certain and convincing about a topic pulled out of the air a few minutes before.
That may well be. After all, their articles are not objective essays of the absolute truth but subjective opinions, probably well-researched and written in a fairly neutral style. Also, The Economist declares when they advocate a certain opinion.
Regarding the inexperience of their correspondents I cannot fully agree. A glimpse at a dozen randomly selected members of their staff didn’t produce any recent graduate, but middle-aged correspondents and editors with plenty of journalist experience.