Media: Lifeline - The Economist

Launched as a mouthpiece for Victorian dissidents, it now sells more than one million copies

1843: Launched as a vehicle for campaigning against the Corn Laws, The Economist (incorporating in its early days the Banker's Gazette and Railway Monitor) becomes a political, literary and general-interest weekly newspaper. Its political credentials are hugely enhanced by its third editor, Walter Bagehot, still regarded as the greatest ever authority on the UK constitution.

1928: Half of its shares are acquired by the Financial Times - but The Economist's legendary editorial independence is enshrined in a board of trustees. International circulation has been growing - by the outbreak of the Second World War, half of its 20,000 sale is outside the UK - and under the editorship of Geoffrey Crowther, its reputation as an authoritative journal is cemented at home and abroad.

1970: In the post-war era, The Economist's investment in international expertise - particularly its commitment to cover US issues - slowly but steadily begins to pay off. By 1956, total worldwide circulation had crept up to 55,000. At the start of the 70s it breaks through the 100,000 mark, with a significant and growing proportion coming from international sales.

1993: As the new editor, Bill Emmott (below), takes over, the title's global circulation is 500,000. He refuses to cut marketing budgets in lean times, which pays off in the wake of 9/11 when rival publishers lose their nerve.

Now: The title's worldwide circulation passes the golden one million mark. The breakdown shows sales of 500,000 in the US, 204,000 across continental Europe, 153,000 in the UK and the rest in Asia.

Fast forward: 2020 - Having fallen increasingly out of favour with Europe's political and business elite, who find The Economist's uncompromising support for free trade distasteful, The Economist completes a relocation of its headquarters to Washington DC. Already America's top-selling weekly (on a circulation of only one million), it plans a future as the world's last surviving international printed-paper magazine.