The Economist: Every Week, the World
What makes The Economist so special is that the writing is superb. Its lucid prose, mature and thoughtful commentary, and extensive global coverage leave many other weekly news magazines looking somewhat provincial and adolescent by comparison.
The depth and breath of its coverage inform even the most savvy of readers. It is also extremely well organized, dividing world news into geographic areas always in the same order. This allows the regular reader to easily find areas of ongoing interest.
A few years ago the magazine added a section exclusively on China, an acknowledgement of that nation's political, economic, and cultural importance in the global scheme of things. The often-monolithic view of China in many Western publications is avoided in favor of a more nuanced coverage. See the November 21st, 2015 issue for articles on sexual revolution and animal conservation in China.
There are sections on business and finance. But despite its name, this magazine is about much more than the economy.
The International section regularly reveals innovations in some countries that can be instructive to other countries. The article on El Nino as a worldwide phenomenon in the Nov 7th, 2015 issue is a case in point. It explores the devastating effects of drought and heavy rains that complement each other across the globe during El Nino cycles, and describes how some countries mitigate the damage.
The Oct 31st, 2015 issue enters the debate over whether the coywolf (a combination of coyote, wolf, and dog found in eastern North America) constitutes a new species. The Dec 19th, 2015 issue has an amazing essay on animal minds, which explores the latest research on animal intelligence and culture, and highlights some animals' special abilities. Articles in the Science and Technology section can at times suffer from too much technical detail unless, of course, you revel in such details. But in typical Economist fashion the articles often lean into how we define and redefine our world.
Relevant and Topical
The Economist regularly offers Special Reports on topics relevant to a rapidly changing world. The Nov. 28th, 2015 on climate change expands the conventional persuasion of its factual basis to include efforts already underway to deal with its expected effects, such as moving people from flood-prone areas, and relocating species to assist their survival. The Oct. 4th 2014 issue has a special report on the world economy that illustrates how the current digital revolution differs from the two prior. The July 11th, 2015 issue's special report on mental illness harvested data and examples from a number of countries.
The Economist has sometimes been criticized for its opinions. It unabashedly promotes free trade. It tends to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Its political opinions incline towards the center. So if you're looking for hard left or right commentary, you will be disappointed. No publication will provide the range that includes all points of view. But in a world where perspective is increasingly fragmented and people are too often gathering their news only from media outlets that reflect their own opinions, The Economist offers a different platform.
Current events and social and scientific inquiry are presented in a well-balanced and informed manner, allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind. I often disagree with the magazine's opinions but relish reading it nevertheless. In The Economist you have a magazine that reliably covers the pressing issues of our time, one peppered with poignant and revealing facts, one written with a hopeful eye to a more humane future, one worth reading.
Find an Issue
Many branches of the San Mateo County Library carry the print version of The Economist and the magazine is also available as part of our e-magazine collection. You can access current and back issues through our website smcl.org. On our homepage go to the Research tab - select Magazines & Newspapers - and scroll to Zinio eMAGAZINES to register. The Economist's newsstand price is $7.99 an issue. The library makes this valuable resource available to anyone with a library card.
Fred P. blogs about movies, music, and more.