OLD Media Moves

The difference between Fortune and The Economist

November 2, 2009

Yvette Kantrow of The Deal writes about the changes taking place at Fortune magazine and how The Economist remains successful.

Kantrow writes, “That seems to be such a fundamentally different view of the world than the one espoused by Fortune as it heads off into its latest redesign. Faced with falling revenue and Internet competition, it is counting on pretty pictures, heavy paper stock, luxurious looks and lots of career advice to appeal to readers who don’t even know how often it’s published. Meanwhile, there’s The Economist, with its word-crammed pages of questionable paper stock delivering information-packed stories each week on esoteric topics like Nigeria’s banking cleanup and Indonesia’s new Cabinet — and without a how-to piece in sight.

“‘People go on and on about dumbing down, about the fact that the bottom’s getting bigger,’ Micklethwait said. ‘I think there’s a much bigger thing at the top,’ or, as he called it, the ‘up market.’

“No doubt the folks at Fortune would agree with that assessment as they look to turn the magazine into a ‘lush-looking premium product.’ Maybe that’s the problem. Going upmarket for Fortune and other magazines seems to be mostly about glitzing up their looks, providing a slick showcase for luxury advertisers and producing a publication that wouldn’t look out of place on a Roche-Bobois coffee table. But for The Economist, up market is about more than an income bracket; it’s about an intellectual and cultural bracket. Who knows how many of the magazine’s 800,000 subscribers will actually read its 14-page special report on the U.S.-China relationship? But they’ll happily display it, secure in the knowledge that they won’t necessarily look rich, just well informed.”

Read more here.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.