It seems like just last April that the venerable old Atlantic Monthly (wait, sorry, it's just The Atlantic now) launched a web-focused redesign based on the helpful input of presumably expensive "brand consultants." And, what do you know, it was just last April! But now we're in phase two of the magazine's makeover, which means increasingly insane covers and slightly more attractive blogs for their hundred bloggers (NB: we do actually like most of their bloggers, especially Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Fallows, and crazy Andrew Sullivan—all better than TNR, basically). Here's the announcement! But will this save the magazine? While the newish Harper's website fits that magazine's fusty, "who needs to turn a profit anyway" aesthetic (and subscribers get full access to the indispensable indexed archives), The Atlantic's recent branding campaigns don't seem to have anything to do with the magazine's identity, whatever the hell that is anymore (plus: 300 articles for $100 with nothing from 1964-1992 just doesn't compare to the Harper's deal.) Honestly the Atlantic's identity crisis still stems from the move from lame Boston to miserable DC followed by a new focus on, you know, politics, though that crisis has actually produced what might be a better magazine with more interesting (to us) features. And hey, the website looks good, the new logo is a cool appropriation of their '60s logo, and the mag redesign will probably look very nice (unless it's as pointlessly busy as that first cover). Still, a massive ad campaign and a expensive rebranding for a smart current events mag seems a bit '90s, right? BUT! Atlantic Media also owns the expensive subscription-only political trade journals of the National Journal Group! And if there is a market for political journalism in this nation, that is the model, so far, that seems the best able to weather the storm. So, thankfully, Global Security Newswire will subsidize Andrew Sullivan well into the Obama administration and on until he turns conservative again.
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