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The Economist
The Economist Logo.svg
The Economist Cover (Aug 1, 2020).jpg
Cover of the 1 August 2020 issue
Type Weekly newspaper (Friday)
Owner(s) The Economist Group
Founder(s) James Wilson
Founded September 1843; 180 years ago (1843-09)
Political alignment Radical centrism
Economic liberalism
Social liberalism
Headquarters 1-11 John Adam Street
Westminster, London, England
Circulation 515,200 (print) (as of January–June 2023)
ISSN 0013-0613

The Economist is a British weekly newspaper printed in demitab format and published digitally. It focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, technology, and culture. Based in London, the newspaper is owned by the Economist Group, with its core editorial offices in the United States, as well as across major cities in continental Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2019, its average global print circulation was over 909,476; this, combined with its digital presence, runs to over 1.6 million. Across its social media platforms, it reaches an audience of 35 million, as of 2016. The newspaper has a prominent focus on data journalism and interpretive analysis over original reporting, to both criticism and acclaim.

Founded in 1843, The Economist was first circulated by Scottish economist James Wilson to muster support for abolishing the British Corn Laws (1815–1846), a system of import tariffs. Over time, the newspaper's coverage expanded further into political economy and eventually began running articles on current events, finance, commerce, and British politics. Throughout the mid-to-late 20th century, it greatly expanded its layout and format, adding opinion columns, special reports, political cartoons, reader letters, cover stories, art critique, book reviews, and technology features. The paper is recognisable by its fire engine red masthead (US: nameplate) and illustrated, topical covers. Individual articles are written anonymously, with no byline, in order for the paper to speak as one collective voice. It is supplemented by its sister lifestyle magazine, 1843, and a variety of podcasts, films, and books.

The editorial stance of The Economist primarily revolves around classical, social, and most notably economic liberalism. It has supported radical centrism as the concept became established in the late 20th century, favouring policies and governments that maintain centrist politics. The newspaper typically champions economic liberalism, particularly free markets, free trade, free immigration, deregulation, and globalisation. Despite a pronounced editorial stance, it is seen as having little reporting bias, and as exercising rigorous fact-checking and strict copyediting. Its extensive use of word play, high subscription prices, and depth of coverage has linked the paper with a high-income and educated readership, drawing both positive and negative connotations. In line with this, it claims to have an influential readership of prominent business leaders and policy-makers.


Zanny Minton Beddoes World Economic Forum 2013 cropped
Zanny Minton Beddoes was appointed editor in 2015, first joining as an emerging markets correspondent in 1994.

The editor-in-chief, commonly known simply as "the Editor", of The Economist is charged with formulating the paper's editorial policies and overseeing corporate operations. Since its 1843 founding, the editors have been:

  1. James Wilson: 1843–1857
  2. Richard Holt Hutton: 1857–1861
  3. Walter Bagehot: 1861–1877
  4. Daniel Conner Lathbury: 1877–1881 (jointly)
  5. Robert Harry Inglis Palgrave: 1877–1883 (jointly)
  6. Edward Johnstone: 1883–1907
  7. Francis Wrigley Hirst: 1907–1916
  8. Hartley Withers: 1916–1921
  9. Sir Walter Layton: 1922–1938
  10. Geoffrey Crowther: 1938–1956
  11. Donald Tyerman: 1956–1965
  12. Sir Alastair Burnet: 1965–1974
  13. Andrew Knight: 1974–1986
  14. Rupert Pennant-Rea: 1986–1993
  15. Bill Emmott: 1993–2006
  16. John Micklethwait: 2006–2014
  17. Zanny Minton Beddoes: 2015–present

Tone and voice

Though it has many individual columns, by tradition and current practice the newspaper ensures a uniform voice—aided by the anonymity of writers—throughout its pages, as if most articles were written by a single author, which may be perceived to display dry, understated wit, and precise use of language. The Economist's treatment of economics presumes a working familiarity with fundamental concepts of classical economics. For instance, it does not explain terms like invisible hand, macroeconomics, or demand curve, and may take just six or seven words to explain the theory of comparative advantage. Articles involving economics do not presume any formal training on the part of the reader and aim to be accessible to the educated layperson. It usually does not translate short French (and German) quotes or phrases. It does describe the business or nature of even well-known entities, writing, for example, "Goldman Sachs, an investment bank". The Economist is known for its extensive use of word play, including puns, allusions, and metaphors, as well as alliteration and assonance, especially in its headlines and captions. This can make it difficult to understand for those who are not native English speakers.

The Economist has traditionally and historically persisted in referring to itself as a "newspaper", rather than a "news magazine" due to its mostly cosmetic switch from broadsheet to perfect-binding format and its general focus on current affairs as opposed to specialist subjects. It is legally classified as a newspaper in Britain and the United States. Most databases and anthologies catalogue the weekly as a newspaper printed in magazine- or journal-format. The Economist differentiates and contrasts itself as a newspaper against their sister lifestyle magazine, 1843, which does the same in turn. Editor Zanny Minton Bedoes clarified the distinction in 2016: "we call it a newspaper because it was founded in 1843, 173 years ago, [when] all [perfect-bound publications] were called newspapers."

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