The Atlantic adds 9 editors to its new newsletter platform

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The Atlantic will launch its new newsletter program on Tuesday with nine contract writers, including Charlie Warzel, Molly Jong-Fast and Nicole Chung.

Why is this important: The company hopes the new writers will attract more subscribers, which is key to The Atlantic’s goal of becoming profitable next year, CEO Nick Thompson told Axios.

  • “I hope that the newsletters will be a positive net contributor to our results in 2022, helping us to achieve profitability,” he said.

Details: The company hired nine editors to start and plans to launch newsletters from its own editors later this year.

  • The nine writers include Jordan Calhoun of Lifehacker, Author Nicole Chung, Political Commentator David French, Writer Molly Jong-Fast, Writer and Screenwriter Xochitl Gonzalez, International Affairs Specialist Tom Nichols, African American Studies Specialist Imani Perry , writer Yair Rosenberg and technical bulletin author Charlie Warzel, according to a list provided to Axios.
  • Thompson’s Notes: “I think newsletter writers in general will certainly be more concise than an Atlantic article and probably even more concise than an Atlantic web article.”
  • “I was not looking for subjects as much as I was looking for great writers, ”said Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of The Atlantic. “The important thing for me is that they are honest and interesting.
  • It is “to be determined” at this stage whether the newsletters will include advertisements, Thompson said. The nine newsletters will be free until the end of the month, when they will only be accessible to subscribers of The Atlantic.
  • For the Atlantic matters newsletters, existing subscribers will automatically begin receiving new Atlantic newsletters and receive a one-year subscription to The Atlantic for free. After that, they will have to pay an Atlantic subscription to access these newsletters.
  • Newsletter writers who import their lists will not have access to emails from new subscribers who have joined the Atlantic once they have left.

Catch up quickly: Former publishers were caught off guard by the independent newsletter revolution that swept through the journalism industry during the pandemic. But not all writers have found it easy to quickly build an following on their own.

  • Charlie Warzel left The New York Times earlier this year to launch his newsletter on Substack. He said in an article that he set out to develop a closer relationship with his readers.
  • “What we tried to do was find a way to develop a newsletter program that in some ways combines the best of both worlds,” said Thompson.
  • The newsletters will give writers the ability to “have a direct relationship with readers and have a conversation,” he noted, “while also giving them the security and publishing support of a brand. like Atlantic “.

Atlantic has editorial control on newsletters, but all contractors are allowed to continue working on projects not affiliated with The Atlantic, such as podcasts or outside events.

  • As “contributing authors” of The Atlantic, they will be supervised by the editors of the Atlantic. The company has recruited writers for some of its newsletter writers.
  • Current subscribers to newsletters written by some of the entrepreneurs will automatically start receiving new Atlantic newsletters from these authors and get a one-year subscription to The Atlantic for free.
  • Neither Thompson nor Goldberg comment on the contractor’s compensation programs. Vox Media, which first wrote on The Atlantic newsletter last month, reported that contractors would be paid based on subscriber goals achieved.

The big picture: The Trump era was a tough one for news companies, and The Atlantic is no exception.

  • “The company is going to lose money this year, but it is on track to profit and one of those drivers is growth in subscriber numbers,” said Thompson.
  • NBC News reported earlier this year that the company is on the verge of losing $ 10 million this year.
  • The Atlantic said in August it had more than 830,000 paid print and digital subscribers. Thompson said 740,000 pay subscriptions directly, while the rest comes from newsstands and Apple News +.

“It’s not something we do as a loss leader,” Thompson said, referring to the newsletter push.

  • “We budgeted to pay them and hopefully the number of subscribers for their work and potential ad revenue – the amount of money exceeds the amount we pay them,” said Thompson.

What to watch: Many large tech companies, like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Substack, are entering the newsletter business, joining smaller companies like TinyLetter, Lede, and Ghost. Several editorial publishers, like Patch, The Information, Forbes, The New York Times, also launched newsletter platforms last year.

  • The Atlantic is majority owned by Emerson Collective, the social change investment firm led by Laurene Powell Jobs. Emerson Collective is also an investor in Axios, a newsletter company, and The Athletic, a subscription media company.

Asked about this competition, Goldberg said, “I think they face some competition from us.”

  • “We have a strong brand, and we already have an amazing collection of journalists, “he said.” What’s attractive is the affiliation itself. We are a home for great writers. “
  • Writers will have full access to Atlantic legal, design and publishing resources, noted Thompson. They will also be supported by its production, marketing and press team.


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