The Economist - now there's a good read
I have been a reader of the British journal The Economist for nearly 30 years. Let's get things straight, I am not an economist. Far from it. I started off my adult life working in a bank - but it took me eleven years to see the light and leave. Not a bad decision in retrospect....except that I missed the (golden) years of big fat bonuses. It was banking that led me to The Economist...and a school friend who is an accountant, who went on to work in a hedge fund. But that's another story.
The Economist writes understandably for the intelligent layman on matters of moment. This it does exceptionally well. The sales figures prove it. It reaches out far beyond Britain's shores and is one of world's English language authoritative journals.
For the uninitiated, the title and therefore the assumed content may sound dry, tedious and unappetising. But it isn't. It provokes and teases.
Let's start with the front cover. Week in, week out the cover is arresting. It stimulates visually. Irrespective of your native tongue, the image used is immediately comprehensible to the non-English speaker.
A recent example - the words in red, If Greece goes…, next to the picture of a drain. This on a white background. A stark image of an impending financial catastrophe.
There may sometimes be a pun. References to lyrics of pop songs of the 60's and 70's betray the ages of the journalists which may be followed by Shakespearian references. All of which gently challenges and amuses the intelligent layman.
....an intelligence that presses forward....
The leading articles have real authority. But the authority and weight born of a history dating back to the 1840's. Crisp, punchy and to the point. They discuss in depth the questions of the day. Sometimes in a busy week I do not read any newspapers. My news diet comes courtesy of the BBC and news snippets from the internet. Yes, these days, we suffer from information overload. Hence the need for quality that The Economist provides.
International breadth - The Economist covers the world. Insightful pieces pepper the weekly. The BRIC countries are covered in depth. You need to know about these emerging and emerged economic powerhouses - they will be shaping the world in the years to come.
And, by the way, if you do not what the BRIC countries are - a quick glimpse at The Economist style book will help. This slim tome sets The Economist's writing standards. It's worth a look - I try and follow its principles. Only you, Dear Reader, with this slim tome in hand, can judge if I have succeeded.
The Economist regularly carries a supplement on a variety of topics. International banking, country profiles e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, China (the BRIC countries), and many other topics of commercial and general interest. These provide a "must read" for countless information workers world-wide.
Numbers - yes, please!
I have always liked numbers. Not too many, but just enough to make me understand a specific point. The Economist does this well. GNP, GDP, performance of the most recognised stock markets worldwide – key data is there.
The Economist also specialises in visuals that are neat and well presented. They remind me in a strange way of the spare, yet sleek stylishness of the Apple range of products.
30 years time
I will still be reading The Economist in 30 years time. Perhaps I'll start up my own micro-bank and become a banker again. I will really live life backwards.
The Economist is a stimulating weekly read. It will make you an educated citizen of the world. I read somewhere that President Obama reads it (was it in The Economist?).