Website Editor Assignment: The Economist
For this assignment, I chose to use The Economist’s website because it is one that I have been visiting on a daily basis this semester. I bought a subscription this semester because 1. I needed a good source about international affairs to read in order to study for my Foreign Service Officer Test and 2. I wanted a new source that I could trust to be objective and reliable 100% of the time.
Looking at the website through the lens of this assignment, it would actually be pretty challenging to step in as an editor and improve the website. But, this was the first site that came to mind when I read the assignment, so I figured I’d stick with it and see what I came up with. The first couple of criteria, regarding the voice and tone, is something that I believe the Economist does fairly well with. Their headlines are a nice mix between professional but also interesting enough to grab the reader’s attention. I think the site’s features promote use of the site very well. Importantly, even though the Economist is a subscription-based service, it still allows visitors to read a couple of articles for free. This way, they can see the quality of the writing and hopefully be convinced to buy a subscription, rather than simply being turned away immediately. The site is also divided up well. The newest front-page stories are featured prominently, with eye catching thumbnails. There is a topics drop-down box at the top that easily sorts material by geographic region (Asia, Africa, Europe, etc) and subject (Economics, Science, Debate, etc). This makes it easy for the reader to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
The quality of the writing is consistently excellent — it is exceedingly rare to find a typo in the articles or on the website. The layout of the site is very simplistic and modern — it uses a nice design where each headline gets a large section of the site to itself, which keeps them from blending together and also makes the site appear cleaner and more professional. There are no pop-up ads, which makes the site more pleasant to browse and also reduces distractions when you are trying to read. The site also uses contrasting colors well — it uses a clean, white background mixed with dark gray toolbars to help frame the actual headlines and thumbnails better. The only red text on the site is the Economist logo and the headlines, which really helps them stand out and grab the reader’s attention.