As the U.K. continues to negotiate the conditions of its exit from the European Union, concerns about fake news spreads, and the balances of global powers continue to shift, journalism is an ever more relevant topic for students across disciplines, especially those aiming to be future leaders in global business. Earlier this month, students from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis spoke with Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist. The meeting took place in the publication’s London offices and provided students the opportunity to learn how The Economist is run and what makes it so successful.
The meeting began with a brief introduction of the history and business model of The Economist. Standage then laid out plans for the next issue, providing a behind-the-scenes preview, but more importantly, unique insight into the thought process behind each issue’s content and structure.
Students appreciated the fact that Standage welcomed questions about anything that would be useful to their studies and research. For instance, he talked about the newest developments in the news business and the shift from print to digital advertising, which has not been as straightforward as is often assumed. Students were also interested in The Economist‘s strategies to increase advertising revenue. One student commented, “the most interesting thing he shared was how the publication is in fact growing during a time when many other publications are struggling to tackle the challenges of a world plagued with unreliable news sources and a divisive political environment.”
In the era of fake news, Standage also explained how The Economist has managed to maintain a reputation of credibility. Furthermore, as Standage is the chief strategist behind the publication’s online platform and content, the discussion covered the industry’s tectonic digital shift, and the publication’s position within this change. From integrated branded videos to immersive virtual reality news, Standage made it clear that the magazine is doing everything it can to stay ahead of the ever-changing news environment.
The students showed keen interest in Standage’s views on the current state of U.S. politics and the coverage of Donald Trump in the media. They also appreciated the privilege of seeing what is happening behind the scenes of such a prestigious and influential publication.