Research Report on "How Luther went viral" published in the Economist:
“How Luther went viral” is a story published in the December 17th 2011 edition of Economist. The author of this article is unnamed. The Economist is a self-claimed newspaper, but the actual print edition takes the form of a magazine. The newspaper is based out of London, and its mission is "to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress". The newspaper has a liberal lean when it comes to both economics and social policies; it has supported gay marriage legalization along with smoking bans in England.
A very interesting point about the Economist is all of its stories have no author listed and this is for a few reasons. The most important reason, however, is the fact that a large majority of the stories that appear are not only written by multiple people, but are heavily discussed by the entire staff, edited by many hands, and thus to put a single name or a couple of names on an article would not do it justice. Secondly, by only placing the publication’s name on the article, the Economist is saying that the article reflects the opinions of the newspaper as a whole, rather than a single author.
The majority of the paper’s staff is based out of London, but as with any paper with good international coverage, it has staff posted around the world who are better able to cover local stories than people sitting in London would be able to. This helps to give the publication credibility when reporting about international stories, as is the focus of the paper.
The subscribers to the Economists are mainly upper class, and American subscribers make up about 50 percent of the total readers. However, even with this heavily educated group as its readers, the Economist still writes its stories in simple terms, so that almost anyone can read and understand what is trying to be said. However, a criticism of the paper is even though these stories are written in an easy to understand language, the content of the paper reflects too heavily on the upper class nature of the readers, thus alienating a large majority of people looking to read the paper. This along with the heavily economic liberal stand of the paper are the two major criticism of it.
While this article talks about relating the Arab Spring and its use of social media to Martin Luther and the use of pamphlets, it is interesting to look at how this specific article was shared and spread through the use of social media. On the Economist’s website, it says the article was shared 4.6k times on Facebook, another 3.5k times on Twitter, and around a thousand times on Google Plus. I would argue that this is a large reach for this specific article, seeing as the crowd who reads this paper might not necessarily have all social media tools (because of their age and class standing), but despite this fact, the article was shared almost a thousand times.