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Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations since 1922, has again been ranked #1 in influence by U.S. opinion leaders in a recent national study conducted by Erdos & Morgan, the premier business-to-business research firm. The findings place Foreign Affairs ahead of all media, both print and broadcast, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist, and the Washington Post.
The Erdos & Morgan study is the best known and most widely used survey of thought leaders in the United States. The study, which is conducted every two years, polls a total universe of 483,000 American thought leaders who shape policy and opinion in the public and private sectors. The study documents their involvement with contemporary issues and use of particular media as sources of information in their work. The previous two Erdos & Morgan Studies, in 2002/2003 and 2004/2005, ranked Foreign Affairs number five and number one in influence, respectively.
Since the last release of the survey, Foreign Affairs’ total paid circulation has risen 8 percent to more than 145,000. In this same time period, the magazine has seen significant growth in readership among opinion leaders. For example, its reach to those who influence defense and national security jumped by 19 percent from the prior survey; the magazine has seen 25 percent growth for reaching those who influence environmental and energy issues, and 32 percent for those who influence national energy policy.
In the last two years, Foreign Affairs analysis of critical foreign policy issues has been making headlines. The magazine has run several influential articles on Iraq, including: the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Executive Director Andrew Krepinevich’s argument in favor of a classic counterinsurgency approach, which helped to drive changes in U.S. policy; Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird’s article arguing that “Vietnamization” enabled South Vietnam to help defend itself and that such a strategy could work in Iraq as well; and CFR Senior Fellow Stephen Biddle’s piece asserts that Iraq’s communal conflict is paramount and that a Vietnam-inspired “Iraqization” will make matters worse.
Additionally, former CIA National Intelligence Officer Paul Pillar’s article made front page news in the Washington Post and touched off a firestorm about the politicization of prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons and ties to terrorism. And “Saddam’s Delusions: The View from the Inside” contains exclusive excerpts from the Pentagon’s secret study of Saddam Hussein’s regime based on prisoner interviews and captured documents.
The magazine’s articles on other topics have also been making news. University of Notre Dame’s Keir Leiber and University of Pennsylvania’s Daryl Press kicked off a major controversy in Russia leading to official denunciations of its thesis—that “assured destruction” is no longer “mutual”—and an op-ed in the Financial Times attacking it by former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar. Moreover, the magazine’s multi-article lead package, “The Next Pandemic?” helped put the dangers of avian flu on the national radar screen and spur advanced preparations.
Advertising sales have been supported by the strong circulation, newsstand growth, and the top-tier editorial lineup, as well as by Foreign Affairs’ presence at high-profile summits around the world, including the G8 Summit, WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, APEC Summits, and the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF. The number of advertising pages sold has increased 68 percent, from 216 pages in 2001 to 363 in 2005, and advertising revenue has more than doubled.
According to the rankings of all magazines sold by Barnes & Noble—the nation’s largest bookstore chain—Foreign Affairs is number forty-five in revenue, up from number 228 in 2002. In the news/current events category, Foreign Affairs is ranked number ten.
Additionally, the Foreign Affairs website is enjoying unprecedented traffic; in October, unique visitors to foreignaffairs.org totaled nearly 256,000, a 50 percent jump since 2004. Those visitors viewed more than 1.1 million pages of content.