Last week, John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, spoke on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show”, along with Stephen Shepard, dean of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism and former senior editor at Newsweek and BusinessWeek. Given the recent announcement by Newsweek and the difficulties most print publishers are going through, both discussed the future of news magazines in this digital age.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
- The conventional thinking seems to be that in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, who needs a weekly news magazine? But why is Time successful and not Newsweek? What makes one magazine successful compared to another? “It’s that vague concept called editorial quality, by which I mean original stories that are not available elsewhere”, Shepard said. Publications that produce valuable content that readers are willing to pay for use the news for a forward-looking story that incorporates analytical thinking and is relevant not necessarily to what happened yesterday but to what the impact of yesterday’s news is.
- What’s the secret to The Economist‘s success? Micklethwait suggested that while editorial quality is important, it’s always subjective based on the individual reader’s preferences. Globalization and the rise of the mass intelligence, however, are two key macro-level factors that have made The Economist more relevant now than ever. “There’s a much bigger group of people at the top who want to get ideas as part of their diet”.
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