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.
The Atlantic has said it didn't vet Jill Greenberg's politics before hiring her to shoot John McCain. Even if it had known about her controversial anti-George Bush photographs, it wouldn't have cared, as a matter of policy. The policy may soon change: Greenberg is gloating she left McCain's eyes bloodshot and skin gnarly for the Atlantic's October cover. Worse, from the magazine's perspective, is that she tricked the Republican presidential nominee into standing over an unflattering strobe light, then posted the worst shots and Photoshops to her personal site:
The 150-year-old magazine the Atlantic, whose "influential and highly engaged readers turn to [it] for intellectual stimulation," has a very serious and brainy discussion of Britney Spears that necessitated her use on the cover, plus the word "Rabelaisian" inside the magazine. The Atlantic of course is just the most recent and highbrow magazine to take its cover downmarket in the pursuit of Serious Journalism; a somber Rolling Stone earlier this month did a big cover story on the "American Tragedy" of Britney Spears and, with a heavy heart, saw its website traffic double. New York magazine published a naked Lindsay Lohan in an artistic homage to Marilyn Monroe and melted its Web servers because it did not anticipate needing to deliver 20 million instances of art across the internet. For its part, the Atlantic intellectualized tabloid material by applying the term "gynophobic" to a Spears-related website comments section: