New Economist editor aims for 2m circulation

By Alyson Fixter

New Economist editor John Micklethwait has pledged to continue "to cover bits of the world as seriously as possible without ever taking anything too seriously", following his appointment to replace Bill Emmott last week.

Micklethwait, 43, who has worked at the international business and current affairs magazine since 1987, and has been editing the US edition of the title since 2000, was picked by the magazine’s board of directors for the post from a group of internal candidates, including current deputy editor Emma Duncan.

Outgoing editor Bill Emmott clocked up 13 years in the role and has left Micklethwait to fulfil the task of doubling the title’s circulation over the next decade, to two million copies a week worldwide.

Micklethwait told Press Gazette it would be "a mistake" to presume there would be an automatic increase in circulation, in line with a 100 per cent increase over the previous decade, but added it was "definitely a goal to work towards".

"We have to earn it," he said. "We’re a really expensive product in many parts of the world and it’s through the quality of our editorial that we bring in readers, which is something that Bill has been very good at.

"There will be no changes to the basic approach, which is to try to cover bits of the world as seriously as possible without ever taking anything too seriously. We need to occupy ground that other people have left behind,"

he added.

Micklethwait said meeting the challenge of the internet was a priority for the title, adding that The Economist needed to "evolve" to make the best use of the medium.

"We’re doing lots of research into what our readers want. The net is an area where we’re all learning. We’ve got a very good site and the aim is to keep on developing.

"It’s less of a problem for us [than some weeklies] to the extent that if a big news story breaks, we cover that in our Global Agenda page, but a lot of other stuff seems to work better in a weekly bite. The net is just another part of what we try to deliver."

Micklethwait denied media suggestions that he planned to be more high profile than his predecessor.

"He’s had a very successful profile and if I can do as well, I shall be very pleased," he said.

 

Curriculum Vitae JOHN MICKLETHWAIT

Educated at Ampleforth School in Yorkshire. Studied history at Magdalen College, Oxford, followed by a brief spell at Chase Manhattan Bank
1987 Joined The Economist’s finance section, then edited its business section for four years 1990 Set up The Economist’s office in Los Angeles
1993 US media correspondent, then bureau chief in New York
2000 Appointed US editor, based in London
2006 Appointed 16th editor of The Economist, replacing Bill Emmott Micklethwait has also co-authored four books with Adrian Woolridge, The Economist’s bureau chief in Washington, DC: The Witch Doctors, A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation, The Company: A short History of a Revolutionary Idea and The Right Nation.

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