The Atlantic Embraces the Newsletter Era
The Atlantic is rolling out a programme that brings nine newsletter writers under its umbrella, while allowing them to remain semi-independent. A response to the success of journalists setting up their own newsletters instead of working for established publishers, the US company is hoping the fresh line-up will attract more subscribers.
The nine writers (Jordan Calhoun, Nicole Chung, David French, Xochitl Gonzalez, Molly Jong-Fast, Tom Nichols, Imani Perry, Yair Rosenberg and Charlie Warzel) will not join The Atlantic as staff writers. Instead, they will receive a base fee plus bonuses based on subscribers.
Little has been revealed as to how much editorial freedom the new cadre of contracted newsletter writers will have. The Atlantic's senior editor Nick Catucci will be key creative partner to all of them, and all content will have sub-editing support.
Bringing these writers into the magazine's fold channels their followers' attention and media budget towards The Atlantic's wider content. Existing subscribers of any of the nine newsletters will have their transition eased by a year-long free digital subscription to The Atlantic (worth $50).
As audience momentum at The Atlantic slows (just like other media outlets) following a boom during the early stages of the pandemic, this expansion is a bid to keep growing through the more intimate audiences that independent journalists have built on newsletter platforms like Substack. For more on this, see Substack Remakes Media for the Passion Economy Era.
The draw of personalised information digested by trusted voices will continue to spur brand investment. In June, Facebook paid $6m for the URL of Bulletin – its Substack clone. For more on building micro-communities around verticalised content, check out Mobilising Online Microcultures.