Listen to The Economist on the go


I’m a long-time paying subscriber to The Economist, the only print publication I actually pay money for.

My subscription also gives me unfettered access to online, as well as the ability to subscribe to the Economist podcast if I wish to. The podcast is one of my favourite listening experiences on the desktop.

The Economist has now rolled out something that I think will widen the appeal of the podcast – the ability to get it in iTunes and, thus, sync it to your iPhone, iPod or iPod Touch for listening wherever you happen to be.

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Getting hold of The Economist podcast has been a bit of a convoluted process until now:

[…] Downloaded audio files are in zipped MP3 format and will need to be extracted using WinZip before you can listen to them. Once downloaded, you can listen from your computer or upload into a portable audio device.

So you download a large zip file, typically 150 megs or so if you get all the content as one file, then unzip it, then get the individual MP3 files onto your portable device…

Far too manual. I always used to listen on the desktop: too much hassle otherwise. Now, though, it’s a breeze:

Our new RSS feed will automatically deliver the latest audio edition into your iTunes music library, just as soon as it’s available. To set up, follow the prompts on the download page.

This process only needs to be completed once, after which time your personal channel will be authorised, and your iTunes music library will automatically update each time you launch the application.

For your convenience, we have made each separate section of the audio edition available as an RSS feed, along with the entire edition.

Your audio will be delivered in the latest m4a format, which is compatible with iTunes and most modern MP3 players.

And it works a treat. I really do like the choices you have where you can choose which section of the publication you want to subscribe to, or get the whole thing as one podcast (that’s what I prefer).

personalrss It’s very good to see how The Economist -  or, more probably, their production partner Talking Issues – have enabled a password-protected RSS feed into iTunes.

This is the first instance I’ve seen of that.

Now I will listen to The Economist on the go each week. Nice work.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Andy C

    I wouldn’t call a downloadable archive of MP3 a podcast.

    Frankly, I’m staggered it took The Economist so long to solve this problem.

    Whatever will they think of next – a FriendFeed Group ?

    • neville

      The Economist themselves don’t either: they call it the ‘audio edition.’ But who cares what you call it? I don’t (although I do call it a ‘podcast’).

      Unsure what problem you’re referring to, Andy, that The Economist solved. The audio edition/podcast has been available for quite some time; what’s new is the RSS feed into iTunes.

  2. Andy C

    Wikipedia: ‘A podcast is a series of digital media files, either audio or video, that is released episodically and downloaded through web syndication.’

    I don’t expect to have to manually visit a Web site to download a new edition of the Economist. I expect it to come to me and be delivered to my podcast application.

    The previous method is akin to visiting the BBC Web site every 20 minutes to see whether any new news has broken.

    • neville

      Well, like I said, The Economist doesn’t call it a podcast but an ‘audio edition.’

      As for definitions in Wikipedia or anywhere else, do you think someone who gets hold of one of The Economist’s files either by manually downloading it or getting it automatically via iTunes cares whether it’s called a ‘podcast,’ ‘audio edition’ or whatever?

      Some people are quite happy checking a website every 20 minutes while others prefer the automatic method such as RSS offers.

      More interesting than any purist definition is that you have another choice in how you’d like to get the file.

      Still, with the RSS and iTunes option, The Economist could now call it a ‘podcast’ if they wished.

  3. Eur van Andel

    It’s a pity it doesn’t work for me, though. I still can get the audio edition after logging in, but the iTunes RSS feed says: “Your subscription has expired…”

    I emailed them, but got no reply.

  4. Colin W

    I took another stab at solving the “subscription expired” problem in iTunes. I had previously used Firefox to add the RSS feed. This time I switched to Internet Explorer, and this did the trick! Hope this works for others.

  5. Eur van Andel

    I tried with Safari, but no change. There is no internet explorer for the Mac :-)

    Weird that in this day and age a browser makes a difference.

  6. Eur van Andel

    After I got no reply from Talkingissues, I sent an email (via a web form) to There was a problem with the authentication and they fixed it.

    The RSS feed contains larger files, though. I wonder if can skip conveniently to the next article.

  7. David Casada

    I too enjoy listening to the The Economist on my iPod Touch, but run into trouble when traveling on business because my lock down company laptop won’t run iTunes. Is there a way to skip the iTunes “middleman” and download the podcast directly to my iPod Touch over its Wifi internet connection?

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