The decision to read the Economist from head to tail each week 10 days ago has been a partial success. The two blights were lack of time/discipline and the failure of the Royal Mail to deliver this week’s copy. No matter, there is an online version, but that is so much the harder. However, I did chance across their story on Unilever, which I would only have read this week if I had started from the back if the copy had arrived. More on that in another post. The first observation I would make is that a good number of articles I would not normally have read I heard the BBC following up, often up to a week later. This is not empirical, but I suspect the Economist is setting a lot of editorial agenda at the BBC. Given their respective scale and audience reach, this does strike me as rather odd. My suspicion, based on limited knowledge of working cultures, is that the Economist, though small, is highly collaborative, while the BBC, despite Greg Dyke, is definitely not. This was one of the observations of the Lambert Report into the BBC’s round the clock news channel News 24, and seemed to be writ large in the Hutton examination of the Kelly affair. Sacked Today editor Rod Liddle (now disgraced by his extra-marital activities), who hired Gilligan, also has given a description of a very emotional and immature culture of editorial decision making under his own tenure. I’ll return to the theme of Economist agenda setting with examples as the test continues. I think it is not just the BBC that pores over each new issue.

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