Tom Scocca does a great takedown of The Economist, and by association, the unalloyed Economist worshippers in the magazine industry: "When other magazines say they want to be like The Economist, they do not mean they wish to be serious. They mean they wish, by whatever means, to be taken seriously."
[He neglects to mention Monocle, though, which launched itself with the suggested tagline, "it's The Economist-meets-Vice." [Aside: There's a conservative power-worshipping sycophant streak that runs through Monocle which will be interesting to watch develop. As if Tyler Brule wants to be the secret, unaccountable ruler of the world--Karl Rove, just with a gym body and hand-stitched shoes.]
Also unmentioned is The Economist's one true strength--at least it was, I only read it to get into business school--its wry photo captions.
But Scocca's bitingly close reading reminds me of another great Observervation of an uncritically praised media organ: the Zagat Guide. Sometime in mid-to-late 1990's, someone--maybe Michael Thomas?--identified review-submitting diners as suburban boors transfixed by their own imagined superiority, dealing out criticisms like "filled with model wannabes" and "one-car garage decor" and self-inflating praise such as "just like the ratatouille in Marseilles."
So, can anyone find that article again? Or has it been sent downt he memory hole now that the paper's owned by a guy from New Jersey with a six-car garage?