How did a 153-year-old magazine — one that first published the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and gave voice to the abolitionist and transcendentalist movements — reinvent itself for the 21st century?
By pretending it was a Silicon Valley start-up that needed to kill itself to survive.
The Atlantic is on track to turn a tidy profit of $1.8 million this year. That would be the first time in at least a decade that it had not lost money.
Getting there took a cultural transfusion, a dose of counterintuition and a lot of digital advertising revenue.
“We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic,” said Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company.
What that meant more than anything else was forcing one of the nation’s oldest magazines to stop thinking of itself as a printed product.
via NY Times
The article is from December, 2010, but still worth reading if the topic interests you (death of newspapers, magazines).
It’s worth noting that The Atlantic is continuing its heroic transformation:
For the 12th consecutive quarter, The Atlantic is reporting gains in print and online revenue. In third quarter 2011, overall advertising revenue is up 19 percent. – Folio
The Atlantic‘s online ad revenue exceeded its print ad revenue for the first time…even more interestingly, October’s 51% digital advertising share doesn’t come from a decline in print revenue. According to Lauf, The Atlantic sold more ads in the October issue of the magazine than it had since 1999. – The Next Web
Learn how the rest of the industry is faring – Newspapers are losing $25 billion in revenue in 2011 – The digital divide – newspapers are completely lost.