The Atlantic is introducing its first membership program to provide exclusive editorial offerings to new audiences and loyal readers alike, rather than give more or different access to the publication’s existing work.
Called The Masthead — named after the highest point of a sailboat, as well as “the part of a publication that details who makes it what it is” — the membership will include exclusive stories, previews of upcoming features, weekly conversations with journalists, in-depth reports, a forum and the ability to have influence over some of The Atlantic’s coverage.
“Our goal is to build a closer relationship with you, one in which you help inform our coverage; one in which we seek answers to your most pressing questions about the world today ..." The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in an email to existing subscribers.
Current Atlantic subscribers will get to sign up for the program first, becoming “founding members” for $120 a year, which includes the digital subscription to the magazine (now being advertised for $24.50 a year). The Atlantic will advertise the offering widely in the coming weeks.
The idea is to create a community and foster a relationship between The Atlantic’s editorial and its audiences, as well as a new way to support its journalism and engage with readers. The Masthead is getting a dedicated editorial team to work on exclusive stories for members, as a supplement to its content.
For example, Masthead editors might interview Atlantic reporters in the middle of a story and share the process with members, Atlantic president Bob Cohn told Nieman Lab.
The sign-up site reads, in part: “You’ll be directly funding a new model of journalism, one based on developing an intimate connection, an ongoing dialogue, between you and our newsroom.”
The Masthead’s launch comes as The Atlantic has expanded its subscription business this year. Print subscriptions surpassed 570,000 in July 2017, while single-copy newsstand sales have grown by 19%. TheAtlantic.com's audience increased 36% in the first half of 2017 over the same period last year.
The Atlantic business is made of its flagship 160-year-old magazine, TheAtlantic.com, events, video and podcasts.