Monday, March 19, 2007

More Economist bashing

Following up on this post with links to pieces by James Fallows and Tom Scocca, here's a bit more. There are two posts with great comment threads: Brad DeLong and Henry Farrell.

And, here's Brad Plumer on the Economist, before he gets to what is wrong with one of its articles on the Green Revolution:

Whenever I'm traveling and not keeping up with current events—as has been the case over the past two weeks—I tend to pick up a copy of the Economist at the nearest airport in order to catch up. "How nice," I say, "this pretty little newsmagazine has all the international news I need to stay abreast." Plus, of course, it has that British "edge" we insecure yuppies find so enchanting. What's not to love?

The downside is that I sometimes get taken in by the magazine's very subtle and usually quite reasonable-sounding free-market agitprop. For reasons unknown, I find myself nodding amiably when I read: "And that's what makes America so dynamic." Or: "This problem is nothing a bit of market competition can't solve." Or: "Of course, since Marxism is fatally flawed..." (And since I was too busy salvaging what usable chunks I could from my United Airlines "chicken" dinner, I could hardly come up with the usual retorts: "Dynamic for whom?" Or: "That's what we're afraid of." Or: "No it's not.") It's stunning, how charmingly right-wing this pretty little newsmagazine is.

For what it's worth, here's what I wrote about the Economist's take on open souce projects.

[Some people in the comments threads have talked about the high quality of the Economist's science pages. I agree. It does feature some very good science writing (at least in physics and mathematics).]

The Economist's own Democracy in America blog links to some of the articles and blog posts. Its un-named author admits that there are 'some fair points' in the criticism; he/she doesn't elaborate on what they are.


  1. Rahul said...

    This is getting beyond silly. Scocca's main complaint was their upper-class Brit snobbishness, and he chose to demonstrate that, as I commented, by first butchering their text and then sneering at something they never wrote. And even his accurate quotes are pretty pointless -- first lines of stories where it's the second line, or the second paragraph, begins with a "But" and ends with the punchline.

    Give me Brit airs over American illiteracy any day.

    But now Plumer complains that he gets "taken in" by their pro-free-market editorialising. Excuse me, that's what they do. That's linked on their main webpage. They're hardly making a secret of it or misleading readers about their ideology.

    If this is the worst that can be said of the Economist, they're clearly pretty good. I can say far worse things about any mainstream newspaper or magazine.

  2. Alex M Thomas said...


  3. ggop said...

    Great series. One thing is for sure, they are very clever at presentation. Take the Green Revolution article for instance, they cite Paul Ehrlich's epiphany to shock the reader. Its really subtle.