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]