OLD Media Moves

Copying the Economist

March 14, 2007

Tom Scocca in the New York Observer writes Wednesday that a number of publications have attempted, or are attempting, to copy the look and feel of The Economist.

The EconomistScocca wrote, “When U.S. News redesigned itself two years ago, The Economist was the in-house role model. It has become like Harold Hayes’ Esquire, an unquestioned aspirational reference point, in public and private. Or both: In September, Women’s Wear Daily reported that New York editor Adam Moss, acting as a consultant, had advised Business Week to try making covers more like The Economist’s. At a retreat, Los Angeles Times editors were advised to give stories a more Economist-like feel.

“Are any of them reading The Economist? The cover of the March 10 issue is a Cultural Revolution–era Chinese propaganda poster, showing a strapping peasant steering a tractor with one hand and holding a book aloft in the other. The book, originally Mao’s Little Red Book, has been modified so that the cover reads ‘Property Deed’ in English. The revolutionary slogan on the peasant’s coveralls is still in Chinese.”

Later, he added, “The Economist is priced at $5.99. A magazine for more than $5 is like a sandwich for more than $10: It needs to be appetizing enough to make the sale, and filling enough that you don’t feel ripped off afterward.

“Along the bottom of the front cover, in tiny type, the price of the magazine is given for 16 different countries and/or currencies: 23.90 Brazilian reals, 1,100 Japanese yen, 3.60 British pounds. According to an online exchange calculator, that’s $11.39, $9.36 and $6.95, respectively. Perhaps Americans should be exporting The Economist.

“At this point, I noticed I was failing to open the magazine.”

Read more here.

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