The Economist is Slipping

0809economist The Economist is SlippingOn the occassion of Newsweek‘s sale, The New York Times has a profile of The Economist, the hip newsweekly from across the pond (see: “globalisation”). The Economist is perhaps the magazine that Newsweek always wanted to be. The magazine’s readership is a smaller, self-selecting group, and its able to charge more. “Bankers read it in first-class seats. Hipsters read it on the subway on their way to work,” according to The Times Jeremy Peters. Newsweek‘s remodeling itself as The Economist didn’t work, and now there’s some evidence that The Economist model itself is buckling, however slightly.

Mr. Peters reports that The Economist has some troubling stats. Almost half of Economist subscribers (45 percent) have been around for six months or less, and newsstand pick-up is down 27 percent from those ga-ga days of 2008 when everyone wanted to be just like The Economist. A year-long subscription costs $100, more than twice the price of Newsweek and five times the price of Time. A fancy boutique in Manhattan that Mr. Peters visited no longer carries The Economist, wrote Mr. Peters.

Editor John Micklethwait told The Times he’s staying the course. He won’t be shaking up The Economist model, or following anybody else’s example. “Once you start trying to segment and work out what people might want to see,” he told Mr. Peters, “I think that would be a journey to some type of psychological hell.”