Commentary

Navigating a Treacherous Landscape, 'The Atlantic' Announces Major Expansions

In an increasingly unstable media landscape, as once-revered companies report huge revenue losses or massive layoffs, The Atlantic, a 161-year-old title is finding a path to success and sustainability.

The Atlantic’s president Bob Cohn stated in a staff memo: “Editorially, we are coming off a very strong 2017. Our most ambitious articles -- many of them magazine cover stories -- drove a global conversation, from Ta-Nehisi Coates on Barack Obama’s legacy to Caitlin Flanagan’s investigation of fraternity hazing to the late Alex Tizon’s essay about his family’s slave.

"Online, we broke new ground with our coverage of Trump’s Washington, #MeToo, and issues surrounding race, a foundational Atlantic topic,” also noting the magazine’s circulation has hit an all-time high.

In addition, TheAtlantic.com’s audience grew by 25% in 2017 from the previous year. 

To aid in the expected growth editorially and on the business side in the coming year, The Atlantic is adding as many as 100 new staff members to the company, with nearly half going to editorial, marking a 30% growth.

Like Business Insider and Slate, The Atlantic has found success with its premium membership program, The Masthead, which offers “exclusive stories, insights, and analysis from The Atlantic’s journalists and thinkers—built on a direct relationship with members.”

The Atlantic also announced the introduction of a metered paywall.

“In the end, we believe that readers will pay for the richness of The Atlantic in digital form. And we think it’s important for the company to rely equally on audience and advertisers for financial support,” Cohn stated.

2017 was the company’s eighth consecutive year of growth. Some outlets have struggled to succeed in the move beyond advertising dollars, but The Atlantic has found footing in various revenue streams, including AtlanticLive, Atlantic 57 and CityLab.com and content studio Re:think.

The memo credited Re:think, in particular, with allowing the company to grow its advertising revenue, while also noting programmatic revenue has been an important part of ad growth.

Bradley stated in his memo: “Growth can go wrong, sometimes terribly; a dozen wrong hires can undo a company culture. But, likely, this goes terribly right. What if we were to find that what follows now proves the transformative hour in Atlantic's history?”

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