The cover of the original issue of The Atlantic, November 1, 1857
|Categories||literature, political science, foreign affairs|
|Frequency||10 per year|
|Publisher||Atlantic Media Company|
The Atlantic is an American magazine founded as The Atlantic Monthly in Boston in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. Though based in Boston, it quickly achieved a national reputation, which it held for more than a century. 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.
Its current format is of 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."
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. The editor-in-chief as of November 2009 is James Bennet. The publisher as of November 2009 is Jay Lauf, who is also a vice-president of Atlantic Media Company.
Originally a monthly publication, the magazine, subscribed to by 400,000 readers, now publishes ten times a year. It features articles in the fields of political science and foreign affairs, as well as a book review section overseen by literary and national editor Benjamin Schwarz. 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.
On January 22, 2008, TheAtlantic.com dropped its subscriber wall and allowed users to freely browse its site, including all past archives. In March 2009, TheAtlantic.com added a food channel edited by Corby Kummer and with contributions from Grant Achatz, Tim and Nina Zagat and Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, among others.
As a leading literary magazine, The Atlantic was the first to publish many significant works and authors. It was the first to publish Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (on February 1, 1862), and William Parker's "The Freedman's Story" (in February and March 1866). It published Charles W. Eliot's "The New Education" (a call for practical reform) that resulted in his appointment to Presidency of Harvard University in 1869. It published work by Charles Chesnutt before he collected them in The Conjure Woman. The magazine was a point of connection between Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson; having read an article in the Atlantic by Higginson, Dickinson asked him to become her mentor. It was a major venue of publishing for poetry and short stories, contributing to the start of many national literary careers.
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. Among its best-known current writers on society, politics and culture are James Fallows, Mark Bowden, Caitlin Flanagan, Jeffrey Goldberg, Joshua Green, Christopher Hitchens, Megan McArdle, Jeffrey Tayler, Robert D. Kaplan, and Andrew Sullivan.
The magazine has also published speculative articles that inspired the development of new technologies. The classic example is the publication of Vannevar Bush's essay "As We May Think" in July 1945. It inspired Douglas Engelbart and later Ted Nelson to develop the modern workstation and hypertext technology.
In addition to its fiction and poetry, the magazine continued publishing high-quality writing on society and politics in the 21st century. In 2005 the magazine won a National Magazine Award for fiction. "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."
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). It achieved a national reputation and was important to the careers of many American writers and poets. By its third year 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 no major changes were in store.
In April 2005, however, the publishers announced that the editorial offices would be moved from its long-time home at 77 North Washington St. in Boston to join the company's advertising and circulation divisions in Washington, D.C.. 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, then, was to create a hub in Washington where the top minds from all of Bradley's publications could collaborate. Few of the Boston staff agreed to relocate. Bradley embarked on an open search for a new editorial staff.
Bradley, who has described himself as "a neocon guy" who came to regret his support for the Iraq invasion, 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.
The Atlantic Wire is a website associated with The Atlantic that aggregates opinion from across the media spectrum and summarizes significant positions in each debate. It also includes the Atlantic 50. It publishes The Atlantic 50, a ranked list of the top opinion makers in the media created using an algorithm based on influence, reach and web engagement.