Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Working on my new book … The Fight For Freedom

May 9, 2014

Not much time for blogging, as I am writing, writing, writing. Here’s the book I am working on:

19.3.2014 cover FFF - iPad cover (3)

Will The Economist’s phenomenal success feed through to Reuters?

August 26, 2013

(This article first appeared on 24.8.2013 on The Baron, a web site covering media trends http://thebaron.info/.)

In appointing a senior manager of The Economist as “chief executive, Reuters, running news and media business from London,” Thomson Reuters has picked talent from one of the world’s most successful news businesses.

Instead of turning to another wizard from America, the company is looking towards a UK-based organisation which has built a powerful readership worldwide including the U.S. The Economist boasts playfully that it is the Voice of God: read its content once a week, and you know all you need about the world.

So what are the keys to success that Thomson Reuters must surely be eyeing in choosing Andrew Rashbass? Some of his colleagues recently briefed journalists attending the Reuters Institute in Oxford:

– The Economist has a circulation of 1.5 million, making 70% of its revenue from subscriptions and 30% from advertising. It is profitable on subscriptions alone. In five years, the ratio is expected to move to 80:20 or more. So much for the myth that nobody pays for news in the digital era.

– Digital publishing grows rapidly, but The Economist finds that print is far from dead. In fact, it tends to be more profitable.

– The Economist employs only a handful of staff journalists. But it draws on a powerful array of expert writers who produce dauntingly thorough series on subjects such as the U.S., China, India, international finance, technology and science.

– It surprises readers by writing about topics they had no idea mattered.

– The Economist does not try to be impartial. It believes readers accept an openly expressed point of view. It is liberal, socially and economically, and sees this predictability as a strength.

– Its journalists don’t write just for the weekly edition. They keep the news flowing in between in the form of blogs. They use feedback from the blogs to adapt followups.

– They see apps delivering news to tablets and smartphones as a more promising business model than web sites with paywalls, because consumers feel they are getting the whole news, not bits and pieces.

Some of The Economist’s lessons will not apply, and Reuters brand already carries authority. But Reuters does not quite have The Economist’s intellectual firepower. It has introduced comment, but it is varied and unfocused. Reuters avoids having “a line,” and in The Economist’s experience that is not a plus.

Look at Reuters web pages, and you see a disparate array of stories – some financial, some global, others lightweight and local. While Reuters has more experience of running 24-hour news, it has struggled to make it profitable. Its web sites have no paywalls.

By refocusing on the name “Reuters,” Thomson Reuters is signalling that it wants to make serious money from news. This has been the Holy Grail for Reuters throughout the ages.

Rashbass, who has been guiding a highly profitable global news brand, has been brought in to deliver.

How I missed out on my PhD. OK, you can smile

October 15, 2012

Today I read that research presented at the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans shows people smile at people they feel either superior or inferior too. But (says Evan Carr of the University of San Diego) they don’t smile at people they feel equal with and want to compete with.

I have to reveal that I came to exactly that conclusion 10 years ago while I lay in my bath. Now I realise to my chagrin I could have got a PhD out of this. I could be touring lecture circuits attracting smiles from countless admirers who feel inferior to me.

As it is, I am getting by on the superior kind of smiles. But just don’t try to compete with my deep insights. I can be very hatchet-faced.

Swiss economy grows – with no budget-cuts, no stimulation package and lots of foreigners

May 31, 2012

Switzerland’s economy grew by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2012, after 0.5% and 0.3% in the last two quarters of 2011. The Swiss did this without having first to rein in excessive government spending. Nor is the government running a big economic stimulation programme.

Switzerland’s direct democracy, which provides for citizens to vote on practically any issue affecting their lives, may be a factor. Voters know that if they take the easy way in spending, they will have to take painful decisions later. There is no escape from the consequences and nobody else to blame. This could be why budgets do not get out of control.

Unlike truculent Britain, Switzerland is pragmatic in its relations with European neighbours. It does not belong to the European Union, but has bilateral agreements aligning it with most of EU legislation.

Switzerland belongs to the Schengen agreement, so its frontiers are open to EU citizens. With a few temporary exceptions, Europeans can freely immigrate to work in Switzerland. As a result, there is a plentiful supply of highly-qualified workers. Local analysts consider this is one important reason why Swiss companies succeed well in export markets.

As if to underline the point, the latest report from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) ranked Switzerland third behind Hong Kong and the United States in economic competitiveness. Germany is ninth and the rest of Europe nowhere.

Responsible, steady and open to the world – perhaps this tiny country has lessons for all of us.


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