I finally started reading The Economist this weekend. I picked up the magazine on Sunday afternoon, as I was somewhat at a loss as to what I should be doing with the ample time I had over the three day weekend. I'm already 6 issues behind, but I'm finding that reading magazines, even in this digital and online age, isn't so bad at all.
One big advantage that such publications have over online news channels, is that I can't set up an information filter beforehand. Online, I have a bias towards finding the information that interests or pertains to me, but in the form of a physical magazine, the effectiveness of such efforts is compromised. By going through the physical publication, I'm inadvertently exposed to current events in remote areas such as Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. I probably wouldn't have read nearly as much about these regions had I looked for information online.
Related, is the fact that I can skim and skip through topics after I am made aware of them. I see a topic, and if I don't feel like reading thoroughly, I will at least skim the text to get a feel for what the article is about. I feel that this is one of the big differences between physical and online publications; it's analogous to the 'book discovery' problem that physical book stores still do better than Amazon. Sometimes it's good that our online mega filter doesn't have a chance to act in full gear.
But of course, not everything is great about a magazine. For one, even in a publication like The Economist, there are plenty of articles that are of zero value to me. Identifying and getting through these pieces with minimal sunk time becomes somewhat imperative. It's a drawback of having a weaker topic filter, against which we need to fine a healthy balance.
For instance, I read this publication for financial and global/political news that pertains to the world's economy. 'Pure politics' or technology are examples of topics I'm not looking for when I am reading The Economist. Skimming becomes paramount. There are a lot of words in one issue of this magazine.
It's not that I'm completely disinterested in the rising cost of natural disasters or humanitarian issues (after all, I did voluntarily attend a Nick Krystof talk which was solely on human rights issues). It's just that I'm not looking for such material when reading this particular publication.
Such an attitude makes the task of reading the publication "cover to cover" a little less daunting, as the 100 pages are whittled down to something around 50.
Overall, I'm enjoying reading The Economist. Sometimes I'm concerned that I may be skipping over too many topics relating to global politics, but at least I'm aware of things going on in Nigeria or Hungary, rather than my previous ignorance towards their developments. I'm sure my attitude and methodology in parsing its text will evolve over time, hopefully for the better.
I must say though. Even with all the skimming and skipping, it takes hours for me to read one issue. I'm not sure how I'd cope if I had chosen to read every single mundane article, even the one about a new Napoleon theme park in France.
 We've had a subscription from late last year. I just hadn't started reading it.
 There's actually not that many pages devoted to advertising. Perhaps 20-30 pages.
Crossposted from my main blog