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The Atlantic Wire

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The Atlantic Wire

For the ocean, see Atlantic Ocean. For other uses, see Atlantic (disambiguation).

The Atlantic
File:The Atlantic magazine cover.png
Cover of The Atlantic
Editor James Bennet
Categories Literature, political science, foreign affairs
Frequency 10/year
Publisher Jay Lauf
Total circulation
Founder Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Year founded 1857 (1857)
Company Atlantic Media
Country United States
Based in Washington, DC
Language American English
ISSN 1072-7825

The Atlantic is an American magazine founded in 1857 in Boston, Massachusetts, as The Atlantic Monthly. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it has held for more than 150 years. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets, and encouraging major careers. It published leading writers' commentary on abolition, education, and other major issues in contemporary political affairs.

After financial hardship and a series of ownership changes, the format changed to a general editorial magazine. Focusing on "foreign affairs, politics, and the economy [as well as] cultural trends," it is primarily aimed at a target audience of "thought leaders."[2][3]

The magazine's founders were a group of prominent writers of national reputation, who included Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell. Lowell was its first editor. James Bennet was named the fourteenth editor-in-chief in 2006. Jay Lauf joined the organization as publisher and vice-president in 2008.[4]

In 2010, The Atlantic posted its first profit in the last decade.[5] In profiling the publication at the time, The New York Times noted the accomplishment was the result of "a cultural transfusion, a dose of counterintuition and a lot of digital advertising revenue."[5]

Format, publication frequency and name

The magazine, subscribed to by over 400,000 readers, now publishes ten times a year.[6] As the former name suggests, it was a monthly magazine for 144 years until 2001, when it published eleven issues; it published ten issues yearly from 2003 on, dropped "Monthly" from the cover starting with the January/February 2004 issue, and officially changed the name in 2007. The Atlantic features articles in the fields of political science, foreign affairs, the economy, technology, and the arts, as well as a book review and cultural trends section. Literary and national editor Benjamin Schwarz oversees that section and has recruited numerous writers, including Christopher Hitchens, Caitlin Flanagan, Sandra Tsing Loh, Clive James, Joseph O'Neill, B.R. Myers, Mona Simpson, Sally Singer, Terry Castle, and Natasha Vargas-Cooper. Other regular contributors include James Fallows, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.[7]

In April 2005, the editors of The Atlantic decided to cease publishing fiction in regular issues in favor of a newsstand-only annual fiction issue edited by longtime staffer C. Michael Curtis, but have since re-instituted the practice.

On January 22, 2008, dropped its subscriber wall and allowed users to freely browse its site, including all past archives.[8] In addition to, The Atlantic's web properties have expanded to include, a news- and opinion-tracking site launched in 2009,[9] and in 2011,, a stand-alone website devoted to global cities and trends.[10] According to a Mashable profile in December 2011, "traffic to the three web properties recently surpassed 11 million uniques per month, up a staggering 2500% since The Atlantic brought down its paywall in early 2008."[11] covers politics, business, entertainment, technology, health, international affairs, and more. In March 2009, the site added a food channel edited by Corby Kummer and with contributions from chef Grant Achatz, Tim and Nina Zagat and Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, among others. In December 2011, a new Health Channel launched on, incorporating coverage of food, as well as topics related to the mind, body, sex, family, and public health.[12] has also expanded to visual storytelling with the addition of the In Focus photo blog, curated by Alan Taylor,[13] and the Video Channel.[14]

Literary history

A leading literary magazine, The Atlantic published many significant works and authors. It was the first to publish pieces by the abolitionists Julia Ward Howe ("Battle Hymn of the Republic" on February 1, 1862), and William Parker's slave narrative, "The Freedman's Story" (in February and March 1866). It published Charles W. Eliot's "The New Education", a call for practical reform that led to his appointment to presidency of Harvard University in 1869. It published works by Charles Chesnutt before he collected them in The Conjure Woman. It published poetry and short stories, helping launch many national literary careers. Emily Dickinson, after reading an article in The Atlantic by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, asked him to become her mentor. In 2005, the magazine won a National Magazine Award for fiction.

The magazine published many of the works of Mark Twain, including one that was lost until 2001. Editors recognized major cultural changes and movements. The magazine published Martin Luther King, Jr.'s defense of civil disobedience in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in August 1963.

The magazine has also published speculative articles that inspired the development of new technologies. The classic example is Vannevar Bush's July 1945 essay "As We May Think", which inspired Douglas Engelbart and later Ted Nelson to develop the modern workstation and hypertext technology.

In addition to its fiction and poetry, the magazine publishes writing on society and politics. "A three-part series by William Langewiesche in 2002 on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center generated headlines, as have articles by James Fallows on planning for the Iraq war and reconstruction."[16]

As of 2012, its writers included James Fallows, Mark Bowden, Jeffrey Goldberg, Megan McArdle, Jeffrey Tayler, Robert D. Kaplan and Ta-Nehisi Coates.


For all but recent decades, The Atlantic was known as a distinctively New England literary magazine (as opposed to Harper's and later The New Yorker, both from New York City). It achieved a national reputation and was important to the careers of many American writers and poets. By its third year, it was published by the famous Boston publishing house of Ticknor and Fields (later to become part of Houghton Mifflin). The magazine was purchased by its then editor, Ellery Sedgwick, during World War I, but remained in Boston.

In 1980, the magazine was acquired by Mortimer Zuckerman, property magnate and founder of Boston Properties, who became its Chairman. On September 27, 1999, ownership of the magazine was transferred from Zuckerman to David G. Bradley, owner of the Beltway news-focused National Journal Group. Bradley had promised that the magazine would stay in Boston for the foreseeable future, as it did for the next five and a half years.

In April 2005, however, the publishers announced that the editorial offices would be moved from its long-time home at 77 North Washington Street in Boston to join the company's advertising and circulation divisions in Washington, D.C.[16] Later in August, Bradley told the New York Observer, cost cutting from the move would amount to a minor $200,000–$300,000 and those savings would be swallowed by severance-related spending. The reason was to create a hub in Washington where the top minds from all of Bradley's publications could collaborate under the Atlantic Media Company umbrella. Few of the Boston staff agreed to relocate. Bradley embarked on an open search for a new editorial staff.[17]

Bradley, who has described himself as "a neocon guy" who came to regret his support for the Iraq invasion,[18] hired James Bennet as editor, who had been the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. He also hired writers including Jeffrey Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan.[18]

The Atlantic Wire

The Atlantic Wire is a sister site[19] of that aggregates news[20] and opinions[21] from print, online, television and radio outlets. When The Atlantic Wire first launched in 2009, it curated op-eds from across the media spectrum and summarized significant positions in each debate.[21] Expanded to encompass news and original reporting, regular features include "What I Read," showcasing the media diets of individuals from the worlds of politics, journalism, and entertainment, and "Trimming the Times,"[22] a summary of the feature editor's choices of the best content in The New York Times. The site previously featured The Atlantic 50,[23] a ranked list of what the editors described as the top opinion-makers in the media, created using an algorithm based on influence, reach and web engagement.

The Atlantic Cities

Launched in September 2011, is the latest expansion of The Atlantic's digital properties. The stand-alone site has been described as exploring and explaining "the most innovative ideas and pressing issues facing today’s global cities and neighborhoods."[24] Featuring the work of Richard Florida, economist, professor, and Atlantic senior editor, also has been described as showcasing leading voices in the urban planning and community building arenas.[25]

List of editors

See also


External links

  • The Atlantic Wire
  • archival writings by topic
  • (earliest issues up to December 1901)
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Hathi Trust. Atlantic Monthly digitized issues, 1857-
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