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Bad News for the WSJ News Pages; Good News for the Economist

Felix Salmon writes:

Greg Ip on the WSJ, the Economist, and Blogging: How could Greg Ip leave the WSJ for the Economist? I mean, he's a brand - and the Economist doesn't do brands, except its own. (And that it does exceedingly well.) What did he mean when he told Reuters that he's looking forward to "a more analytical and critical style of writing"? Was he not allowed to do that at the Journal? And what about Real Time Economics, his extremely successful WSJ blog? Could he really just walk away from such a franchise? I felt I had to ask. And Ip, mensch that he is, replied in some detail.

Ip certainly didn't have anything but praise for the Journal. But he did seem to imply that the Economist will give him a bit more elbow room:

The Journal has traditionally encouraged its reporters to become knowledgeable enough in their beat that they can apply their own analysis to their subjects, and I certainly followed that tradition. That said, I think The Economist by its nature is particularly conducive to the application of one's critical judgment (they sometimes call themselves a "Viewspaper"), so long as that judgment is based on facts, rigorous analysis and, where possible, economic principles.

And the blog?

I'm proud of what Real Time Economics has become - a source of added value on economic issues that draws high traffic especially from economists and people on Wall Street. Traffic is particularly high on days when big economic news breaks, like a surprise Fed decision. Though I did take the lead in its creation, it is now the product of many people in the U.S. and overseas (allow me a shoutout to editor Phil Izzo who more than anyone else keeps it vital). That means I was able to take a break from blogging without worrying it would have no fresh material.

I am sorry to leave RTE but I will now be contributing to the online edition and the blogs of The Economist, in particular Free Exchange, the economics blog. Like the newspaper, the blog is anonymous, the idea being that readers would want to engage with The Economist rather than individual writers.

It'll be interesting to see whether Ip can help turn Free Exchange into something as vital as RTE.... Ip signed off by saying that "the people I most want to reach almost all read The Economist," which I daresay is true. I wonder how many of them will be trying to second-guess which articles came from Ip.