On digital strategy and the limits of a model based on advertising


Earlier this year I was interviewed by Joseph Lichterman of Nieman Lab about my approach to digital strategy at The Economist. The interview lasted a bit less than an hour, and I said essentially the same things to him that I say to everyone else when I’m asked about this. (Our strategy isn’t secret, in part because we think it would be difficult for anyone else to emulate, because it depends on historical factors that are difficult for other publications to copy.) The difference is that Joseph transcribed every single word, and put it all in the interview—even the part where my phone rings. This happens rarely, which is why I don’t divert it when doing an interview; and, as in this case, it’s quite often someone trying to sell an IT product to me in the mistaken belief that I’m responsible for IT procurement. You can imagine how this happens: they call the Economist switchboard and ask for the person responsible for IT, and they get put through to the digital editor (which is what my title used to be). Anyway, the result is the longest and most detailed description of where I’m coming from. I’ve found it rather useful as a summary I can point people towards. So, here it is. And no, that’s not me. That’s George Bush, with a copy of The Economist, which has been read by every US president since JFK.

Nieman Lab: The Economist’s Tom Standage on digital strategy and the limits of a model based on advertising

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