Economist to scrap print version


Following a very interesting conversation with the good folks at The Economist today, (Thursday 19th November), I am more than happy to point out the The Economist has absolutely NO PLANS to scrap their print version.

I am very sorry if anyone who read this blog thought otherwise. The point of this post was to use, for rhetorical purposes, an example of a strong, influential, thoughtful and powerful print publication (with a circulation of over 1,000,000 and rising consistently over a 20 year period) and suggest that even they, may one day, move away from paper publications. Who knows whatthe future of digital paper, ebooks etc etc will mean for the world? If they ever did, AND THEY HAVE NO PLANS TO DO SO, they would still be a very powerful brand. Of course they have no such plans at the moment.

I also made the point that The Economist is a great brand and actually writes intelligent stuff. This is in contrast to the way that news spreads on Twitter. So Twitter users have apparently stuck my headline into Tweets without reading the post and now some short attention spanned sensation seekers have the impression that The Economist has scrapped their print version. Oh dear. Fortunately, such Twitter users are unlikely to be part of the core readership of The Economist.

Sorry anyway. My bad.

Today Haymarket announced that the print versions of Revolution and Media Week were being scrapped and Media Week would be available in an online only version. At some point in the future the Economist will do the same.

The Economist will become more influential online.


It has a reputation and a brand predicated on insightful, intelligent analysis, whereas Revolution was churning out the same stuff that tons of other news organisations were, with increasing competition from free commentators. In a world filled with lots of free stuff, and in a world with a vast number of sources of the same insights, where news organisations sometimes measure, their value by being able to say, ‘I broke a story 4 seconds before anyone else on Twitter’, it is very meaningful to be able to show value -add analysis.

At a recent ecommerce discussion dinner we ran, Michael Ross argued eloquently that for online retail, ‘Proposition was the new location’. The same argument holds true for news and editorially driven organisations.

If you go down the route of producing cheap mass-produced content and use ‘eye balls’ as your measure of success, you will leave yourself open to being taken out by others. Focus on real value add, understand your market and ensure you have a proposition that is focused on meeting their needs and your brand will continue to thrive.

Google is driving empty calories to news sights. They do better from the traffic that they know and manage themselves. I think this is why Tom Foremski has a great point about Google not necessarily being crucial to Rupert Murdoch’s success in this post.

Our next open event is CEO Tales, 3rd December, London.

2 responses to “Economist to scrap print version”

  1. agree with much of this, Mark. the problem is that until the dust settles, those 4 second news breakers will continue to trump old-fashioned reporting, the kind where journalists go out and actually canvass opinion. right now, being trumped means going out of business.

  2. Richard Furman says:

    100 years ago the Economist probably didn’t imagine it would be published gloablly and contain advertising inserts. People cannot conceive of how technology will change their lives. I agree that it will – eventually. I also think it could beco,me more influential.