Nevermind the irony that a monthly piece in The Atlantic tries to explain the continued rise of The Economist (and by that token, also rest of the media's continued dissection of why that's happening). Michael Hirschorn writes an essay explaining why the British magazine is thriving while Time and Newsweek are in the inexorable state of decline despite their frenzied efforts. This quote explains it well [I have transposed some lines for clarity]: "By repositioning themselves as repositories of commentary and long-form reportingmuch like this magazine, it's worth noting, which has never delivered impressive profit marginsthe American newsweeklies are going away from precisely the thing that has propelled The Economist's rise: its status as a humble digest, with a consistent authorial voice, that covers absolutely everything that you need to be informed aboutThe Economist has reached its current level of influence and importance because it is, in every sense of the word, a true global digest for an age when the amount of undigested, undigestible information online continues to metastasize. And that's a very good place to be in 2009."
But the more intriguing analysis is about the mag's continued lack of isolation online, and Hirschorn's take on it: "While other publications whore themselves to Google (NSDQ: GOOG), The Huffington Post, and the Drudge Report, almost no one links to The Economist. It sits primly apart from the orgy of link love elsewhere on the Web." His point: by not whoring itself out completely on the Web, people value its print product more, while the opposite has happened at Time and Newsweek: they have succeeded to a larger extent online, as the print version declines.
Besides the mag's efforts with Economist.com, the group company did try messing with the social web platform, and spent 100,000 on it in 2007 to no end result. That does reinforce the semi-competent part that Hirschorn talks about in the story, and in the video about his column, below, after the jump:
By Rafat Ali