Why The Economist Has No Bylines

We find ourselves at leisure in the Hotel Verta, the latest Von Essen hotel to open and one of which we heartily approve. It is next to Battersea’s helipad, and though we ourselves did not arrive via helicopter it is pleasing to think that we could have done. The hotel’s cuisine is superb – the steak tartare is a must – and as for its spa, we could spend all day there. It has a small but well-equipped Techno-gym, a sauna, solarium, steam room and vitality pool. We were tempted to blanche at the notion of a vitality pool – for surely most, if not all, swimming pools can be sources of vitality – but after just a few minutes within its sparkling waters found ourselves well and truly renewed.

But if the Hotel Verta is the perfect antidote to the grime and stress of London, what is less certain is why The Economist has no bylines. The Economist and the FT are the Hotel Verta’s journals of choice: we regularly enjoy the FT but seldom embrace The Economist, and so it was a pleasure to peruse its august and, some might say, earnest pages.They are, as aficionados will be aware, sans byline. Not for The Economist the cult of the celebrity writer.

There is an illuminating post on the issue here, one which, inter alia, suggests that the absence of bylines is because of The Economist’s often collaborative approach to writing and because it is has remained faithful to its traditions: 160 years ago anonymity was the industry norm, so why go with changing times? But ever mindful of the influence of m’learned friends, we wonder if there might be another reason.

Could it be that the absence of bylines is a ploy to stop writers being joined in suits for defamation?

Pictured courtesy of boutiquedasilva: the helipad next to the Hotel Verta. The new luxury hotel is well worth a visit, even if you’re not travelling via helicopter.

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