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Jon Meacham’s Cri de Coeur: Why Do You Read The Economist Instead of Newsweek? | The New York Observer

After about an hour, there seemed to be no more questions for him, so Newsweek editor Jon Meacham turned to his audience—about 100 graduate students at Columbia journalism school—and said he had a question for them: Did anyone in the room read Newsweek or Time? There was a small, awkward rumbling before finally, a man shouted, “No!”

Mr. Meacham scanned the audience for his quarry and then asked the journalism student, clad in a black turtleneck, whether he read The Economist. Yes, he did.

“It’s the most talked about and least read magazine,” said Mr. Meacham.

Was just thinking about this today. I grew up reading Newsweek – it was the only quality news we received at home, besides the local papers for their sports sections. A lot of who I am and what I am interested in is likely attributable to that Newsweek subscription. But despite the fact that I’ve kept a Newsweek subscription for the, um, 13 or so years that I’ve been out of my parents house (it’s only like $25 / year, right?) its place at the top of my magazine stack was long since taken over by The Economist..

But, in my case, Meacham’s more or less right – I rarely read The Economist, even if I felt like I needed to have it. In the US anyway, it does have a fetishy omnibus sort of appeal – you get the sense that the world world is in there, even if you have to look past all the neo-lib libertarianism in the leaders.

And now that I’m, well, elsewhere (being shy with that, I know, but you must have figured it out by now….), I’ve noticed something interesting. If you’re wrapped up in the UK news cycle – say the Guardian and sometimes the Independent and always the Herald Tribune and the BBC, the Economist feels dead stale, just a recap of what it feels like you’ve read over and over again already during the last week. All the exoticness and world-stretching feel is almost completely evacuated.

On the other hand, I’ll be damned the European edition of Newsweek isn’t a hundred times better than its domestic version in the US. They’ve shaved out most of the cheesy-filling giving space instead to medium-form articles that actually tell you something new, something a bit too feature-y for the papers to take up. Politics aside, a really good issue of Newsweek abroad feels as close to a decent news mag as we might possibly ask for at this late day and age.

Before it melts completely away, for there certain are better places to read about stress-management and Why We Love to Hate Our Stars, Meacham should just let the Euro/Asia guys run the thing as a niche operation.

On a related note, can somebody explain to me why the LRB costs three times as much to subscribe to in the UK vs. the US? Actually, no need to explain. It’s totally par for the course. But it still hurts and baffles…

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 8, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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