Atlantic Is Profitable, Thanks To Culture Shift And Checks

Defying the notion that the magazine business is careening at the edge of a digital abyss, the venerable Atlantic is about to turn its first profit in over ten years. The magazine cites a cultural shift that had employees think of themselves as “a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic.”

The magazine, which is over 150 years old, made a break with its past, and adopted a new digital strategy, according to The New York Times:

Separations between the digital and print staffs in both business and editorial operations came down. The Web site’s paywall was dismantled. A cadre of young writers began filling the newsroom’s cubicles. Advertising salespeople were told it did not matter what percentage of their sales were digital and what percentage print; they just needed to hit one sales target. A robust business around Atlantic-branded conferences took off.

While it took several years, revenue began to inch up, reaching $32.2 million this year. Digital ads account for 40% of the company’s ad revenue. And subscribers are appreciated. When the magazine saw that it was on target to make a $1.8 million profit this year, owner David Bradley called the reader whose $29.95 check put the magazine over the top. According to The Times, “she mistook him for a telemarketer and almost hung up on him, but not before he promised to pay for her subscription for the next 10 years.”

The Atlantic Turns a Profit, With an Eye on the Web [NYTimes.com]

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Ironically being reported by other news organizations struggling to survive.

    • sonneillon says:

      NYTimes, Wallstreet Journal, and the Washington Post are probably going to survive, maybe not quite as they are but they will likely survive. It is the midsized papers that are going to die off.

  2. SonarTech52 says:

    Was this posted by a ghost writer? Or does someone not want us to know who posted this?

  3. Straspey says:

    As the NY Times article points out, The Atlantic is the 153 year-old magazine…

    “…that first published the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”…”

    No matter how far into the digital age we go, there will always be a small population who will continue to enjoy holding a real paper magazine – especially the type with this kind of very deep content.

    And advertisers will continue to be attracted to this very discerning readership – regardless of the format in which it appears.

  4. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    As a long time Atlantic subscriber I was unhappy when they were sold, moved out of Boston, and revamped the magazine – they had some mis-steps but I am still a loyal subscriber and read them on paper and online. (I’m also a day one Dish reader and was happy when Andrew Sullivan moved to the Atlantic.) It all worked out well.

  5. smirkette says:

    I’ve only just started reading their website fairly regularly, and I’m pretty impressed with both their writing and their commenting community–some of the most consistently thoughtful comments I’ve ever seen on a news site.

  6. Hi_Hello says:

    That’s cool.

  7. drwxrwxrwx says:

    The Atlantic is also one of the few magazines on the market where the writers do not talk to you like you are a complete moron. Coincidence?

  8. rndmnmbr says:

    Print is not dead, and will survive and even thrive for decades to come.

    Big newspapers failed because the reporters and editors were writing stories for other reporters and editors, not the people buying the paper. Stories designed to win awards, not win subscribers. Advertising fell because the print medium has always been expensive and unresponsive. The classifieds fell because ebay became the best way to offload your junk, and job search engines became the best way to find jobs.

    When it comes down to it, the medium matters less than content. But the content people want are the crosswords, Dear Abby, and the horoscopes. Not multipage award-winning journalism with dense research on topic people don’t care about. The tomato problem: people aren’t interested in the plight of tomato pickers, they’re interested in the best price for tomatoes.

  9. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I love my Atlantic. Read it online, and am subscribed to the magazine.
    Doesn’t hurt that it’s about one of the best written, well balanced magazines out there.

  10. slim150 says:

    I’m still bitter a paper / magazine charges for subscriptions and has ads at the same time.. thats double dipping!

  11. ElizabethD says:

    “A cadre of young writers began filling the newsroom’s cubicles.”

    Thank God they replaced the old dinosaur writers with fresh young kids. Because everyone knows the geezers can’t write for sh*t.

    /sarcasm

  12. Halloween Jack says:

    I can’t believe that anyone pays cash money for any outlet that employs Megan McArdle. She has had Paul Krugman school her several times and is still unbelievably, unrepentantly dense.