Charity begins at 'The Economist'?

'Intelligent Life', an offshoot of the renowned title, aims to be warm, people-centred and philanthropic. Ian Burrell reports

Sunday 18 September 2011 22:52

For those who thought the value of The Economist was as an insider's guide to making money, a surprise is in store. It comes in the form of that iconic title's new quarterly sister magazine, which is dedicated to the art of giving fortunes away.

Intelligent Life not only advises readers how to splash inordinate sums on travel, chic restaurants and luxurious threads, it tells them how to divest themselves of their riches in return for little more than a frisson of self-satisfaction at having made the world a better place.

The lifestyle magazine, which at a hefty £4.95 a copy makes its own contribution to wealth redistribution, intends to embrace the new fashionability of philanthropy among the very well-off. Edward Carr, the editor of Intelligent Life, says: "I want to write about philanthropy much more practically.

"A lot of people want to give money now, a lot more people than in the past, and they need advice on how to do it sensibly.

"It's not a guilt thing, it's a fantastic thing to be able to do. Philanthropy can be a great source of ideas about how to deal with the trickiest of problems."

There seem to be so many magazines aimed at the super-rich that they must struggle to see over the vast pile of glossy titles stacked on their designer coffee tables. Intelligent Life will be different, says Carr, 43, because it will be more than a guide to expensive stuff and where to get it.

"Whereas some lifestyle magazines have lots of objects, I want Intelligent Life to be not about the objects themselves but about what they mean to people. I think there's something of the zeitgeist in that..."

This people-based approach demands a major cultural change. The Economist, famously, has no bylines on its articles, which are often painstakingly edited to ensure that the publication speaks with a single, coherent voice.

The quarterly, which will be sold separately, will carry personal pieces from named authors. Featured writers in the first edition, on sale from today, include The Economist's deputy editor, Emma Duncan, writing on climate change, its former senior editor, Anthony Gottlieb, penning a column on philosophy, and Matthew Bishop, Economist New York bureau chief, providing insight into the new philanthropy. Tim de Lisle, former editor of cricket magazine Wisden, has been recruited as Carr's deputy editor.

Another break with the tradition of The Economist, which is not the most visually exciting of publications and tends to rely heavily on stock pictures, is Intelligent Life's embrace of photojournalism.

The launch issue has a pictorial essay, "La Chasse" by Mike Goldwater, on the subject of hunting in the forests of Auvergne. The magazine's main spread is an image of a doomed, bloodied wild boar, frantically trying to outrun a pack of Pointevin hounds. Turn the page to find the hounds goring the boar's carcass.

An accompanying piece says that hunting in France is one of the "courtly arts", with its "costumed spectacle of sportsmanship and elegance tinged with the violence of the kill".

The magazine also looks nothing like The Economist. Designed by the Tomato agency, it carries only a tiny strip of the famous red logo.

The cover is ambiguous, featuring half of the face of an anonymous boy, to illustrate a feature examining how children are affected by a large inheritance.

Carr, who is also the business affairs editor of The Economist, says that while the weekly publication equips readers to "operate in the public space", the quarterly "looks more inward at their personal lives". Their shared DNA is in "integrity, broad-mindedness, curiosity, and eclecticism".

The idea is for Intelligent Life to exist as a self-supporting, news-stand magazine. It is, Carr says, more than just a vehicle for blue-chip advertising, and not simply a reaction to the glut of seven-figures bonuses being paid in the City.

Its tone will set it apart from other new lifestyle glossies, such as the trendy Monocle. Carr says: "Monocle clearly wants to [be] very cool in terms of its treatment of people and its tone.

"I want Intelligent Life to be much warmer, to get into the emotions of people and what they feel about things, and have quite a lot of humour in the magazine."

Whether it works or not will depend largely on how it appeals as an additional read to Britain-based readers of The Economist, (UK circulation 172,842) at whom it is primarily aimed. Intelligent Life has set itself a target circulation of 175,000.

After two decades serving this audience, Carr is confident that he knows what it wants.

"I know what makes them tick and what they like to read. I also know they are quite hard to reach for advertisers," he says.

"So we have the unusual prospect of a magazine that has both a strong commercial and editorial case."

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