Friday, December 28, 2012

Tools Sharp - The Economist

Sirs,

Keeping the tools sharp is a repeated theme of this blog. It's important to remember that this means more than keeping your software skills up to date. It means knowing enough about the world around you to take advantages of unexpected opportunities and also keeping a close eye out for warning signs that might affect your business or your lifestyle.

For many many years I subscribed to US News and World Report. This was the preeminent news magazine of its day. It didn't have the largest subscriber base but it had the broadest and deepest coverage of any American news weekly. Sadly I watched its rapid decline in the early 2000s focusing more and more on sensationalist and celebrity stories while its pages on news international and othewise was cut back.

Clearly this was a victim of the internet age and it is true that many publications experienced similar sharp declines. I could spend weeks on what happend to beloved cable chanels as the reality television format took over like ivy climbing on a wall.

Neverthless some periodicials made a choice to move to quality instead of the lowest common demoninator. Surprisingly Rupert Murdoch has done well with the Wall Street Journal, no doubt because its audidence is razor focused on financial information.

As for the American news weekly, we all saw the decline of Time, Newsweek and US News. All using differing combinations of celebrity and shocking news stories to sell issues while slowly minimizing their day to day hard news information that helps you understand how the world works.

Obviously as a person who makes my living off the internet I should probably just move to many free web sites. Many of these places do good analaysis but they don't do a good job putting together an objective picture. CNN used to the be the best of this lot and yet they seem affected by the same trend of trivia and celebrity that so many other news sites have fallen on.

Despite the internet I keep several print subscriptions and The Economist is the most important. This magazine (or newspaper as it likes to call itself) presents the broadest and deepest news coverage of any weekly on the planet. It's not cheap, about $100 a year (or $0.36 cents a day). But it covers every part of the world with a seriousness and purposefulness yet also with a smart sense of humor that makes it a must read the moment it hits my mailbox or my ipad. They do a technology review every quarter that is literally filled with good ideas for start up companies.

I have no financial interest in The Economist (at economist.com) but they are the last publication I would stop if forced to cut off my feed of information from my mailbox.

[Note I edited this slightly to reduce any political references which only add argument and reduce value ad fixed a couple of spelling mistakes at the same time.]

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