I am a long-time reader of The Economist; I give subscriptions to several of my loved ones every Christmas, and regard it as the most compact and efficient way to be reasonably well informed about the world’s realities. One has to route around their reflexive ideological filter (“Well, maybe child labour isn’t that bad if the market wants it”), but still, the quality of writing and thinking is generally very good. In the last couple of years, though, there’s been a slow steady trickle of horrid editorial lapses; some things can apparently make it onto the page without having passed through an intelligent person’s mind. This worries me, since I’d find it hard to replace if it went bad.
AEI · Last year, in a discussion of the Bush administration’s failed attempt to privatize Social Security, the question arose of whether people would learn to manage their own savings. The Economist quoted an analyst from the American Enterprise Institute saying “No problem, they’ll learn.” Huh? The AEI is a primary architect of the Bush administration’s policies. You might as well ask Opus Dei about the Pope’s latest pronouncement.
Dell · Earlier this year, in a discussion of Dell’s recent poor business performance, they went on and on about the kinds of computers they’re building and the markets they’re addressing, and somehow neglected to say a single word about Dell’s hideous technical-support problems, and the fact that they’ve made their formerly-great Web site hard to use.
It’s · Twice in the last year, they’ve had “it’s” where they meant “its”. Gimme a break, “its” and “it’s” are like “his” and “he’s” and that’s all you need to know; but apparently The Economist lets its pages go to press without basic literacy review?
Women · In the almost-current August 5-11 issue, there’s an interesting and intelligent article, The mismeasure of woman, about the study of genetically-driven differences in the male and female minds. But at the front of the magazine was a shorter leader, How women won the sex war, which was witty and amusing, then the last paragraph said “Wise chaps seeking professional advancement should therefore spend their free time with groups of women, boning up on how to undermine somebody's confidence while pretending to boost it, and how to turn an entire lunch table against an absent colleague without saying a mean word.” Excuse me, are there any grown-up editors or is it just a bunch of sniggering throwbacks?