The Fiscal Times

By Felix Salmon
December 18, 2009
thusly:

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There’s the serious, and then there’s the frivolous. The epitome of serious grappling with complex issues is Pete Peterson, and his crusade against fiscal excess. Frivolous, meanwhile, would be someone like Jackie Leo, who made a career of simplification as editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, and whose new book is characterized by Amazon thusly:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #14,221 in Books

#3 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > New Age > Divination > Numerology

So it’s a little bit of a surprise to see that Peterson has hired Leo to be the editor-in-chief of his ambitious new publication, The Fiscal Times. Still, the idea is a good one:

The news operation will begin publishing with a roster of experienced journalists and leading opinion contributors, whose reporting and insights will aim to drive the conversation surrounding our nation’s most pressing economic issues…

The Fiscal Times and the Washington Post have agreed to jointly produce content focusing on budget and fiscal issues that will be available to both publications. The content will complement the Post’s budget and finance coverage, and will include profiles of key government officials, explanations of important budget trends or proposals and investigative analysis of government spending programs.

With any luck, this will help move the press in general, and WaPo in particular, away from the normal emphasis on who’s winning the political game on Capitol Hill, and towards more substantive analysis of policy issues. And in principle I like the idea of hiring a populizer as editor-in-chief, to help move the debate outside the beltway. Still, I doubt that fiscal policy is ever going to really grab the public imagination. Not unless and until it’s too late, anyway.

(HT: Tim Coldwell)

Update: Alex Leo, Jackie’s daughter, writes in:

She was the editor of chief of Consumer Reports, the EIC of Reader’s Digest (which is no longer the condensed rag it used to be), and the president of ASME. She is a serious lady and I think it’s unfair to categorize her flippantly. Her book is not numerology, it’s really about the famous essay “The Magical Number 7 Plus or Minus 2″. Just because Amazon thinks it is doesn’t make it so!

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