On Finishability

On Finishability

Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist, explains why finishability, distillation and advocacy are what’s unique about the magazine, and shares his thoughts on the threats and opportunities in the news industry. Very relevant for anyone involved in online content—that is, everyone. Some excerpts:

“We sell the antidote to information overload — we sell a finite, finishable, very tightly curated bundle of content. […] The “you’ve got to the end and now you’ve got permission to go do something else” is something you never get. You can never finish the Internet, you can never finish Twitter, and you can never really finish The New York Times, to be honest. So at its heart is that we have this very high density of information, and the promise we make to the reader is that if you trust us to filter and distill the news, and if you give us an hour and a half of your time — which is roughly how long people spend reading The Economist each week — then we’ll tell you what matters in the world and what’s going on.”

“I think what’s interesting about the current environment is that there is an awful amount of froth around. There are an awful lot of news organizations that are being funded with VC money, and the VCs have persuaded themselves that because the news organizations use software, they’re a bit like tech companies and can be valued like tech companies. I don’t think it’s true, and I think an awful lot of these companies seem to have business models that are dependent on advertising, and I don’t think it’s going to work. So I think there’s going to be a shakeout.”

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