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Sept. 9, 2015, 9:30 a.m.
Reporting & Production

Press Publish 15: Matt Thompson on The Atlantic’s attempt to breathe some life into classic blogging

Did blogging win, influencing the shape of all online media? Or is there room in 2015 for a reinvigoration of what the form — personality, connection, conversation, context — once promised?

It’s Episode 15 of Press Publish, the Nieman Lab podcast!

press-publish-2-1400pxMy guest today is Matt Thompson. Since earlier this year, Matt has been deputy editor of, But you might know him from some of his previous career stops. He spent a few years at NPR, heading up some of its most interesting digital initiatives, like Project Argo. Maybe you know him from Snarkmarket, the influential group blog he led with fellow smart guys Robin Sloan and Tim Carmody. Or you may just know him as a provocative thinker on the shape of modern media.

Matt’s one of the key people behind Notes, a new section The Atlantic launched last month that promises to bring blogging back to The Atlantic. It’s an interesting attempt to recapture some of the looser, voicier, more conversational structures of the early 2000s — some of which has been lost in the rise of social media and commercialized online news.

We talked about how blogging seeped into the DNA of today’s news, whether Wikipedia-ing the news is still a thing, and how Slack is creating a new context for editorial voice. Here’s our conversation.


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Show notes

Matt Thompson (his site still has an old bio on it, alas)
The Atlantic
The Atlantic’s Notes section
Chris Bodenner, Atlantic senior editor
“Welcome to Notes” (August 27, 2015)
“The Atlantic is returning to blogging” (August 27, 2015)
“The People Formerly Known as the Audience” (June 27, 2006)
J.J. Gould, editor of
“For the Golden Horde” (December 22, 2010)

“The Atlantic redesigns, trading clutter and density for refinement” (April 22, 2015)
The reader survey The Atlantic used for user testing
“Two out of two news organizations recommend user research” (July 29, 2015)
Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic
The Matt Thompson tag page on Nieman Lab
“Building permission structures for short content (Vox edition)” (May 19, 2014)
“The blog is dead, long live the blog” (December 19, 2013)
The Sully lede
Email newsletters on Nieman Lab
Podcasts on Nieman Lab homepage in 2011
“Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles From News Publishers” (May 13, 2015)
“A confab with Matt Thompson: Noodling the future of context” (May 5, 2009)
Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 true fans (March 4, 2008)
Power laws
Alexis C. Madrigal
Stewart Butterfield
Game Neverending
FiveThirtyEight makes an article out of its Slack
Project Argo, an NPR blogging initiative Matt led
Nieman Lab coverage of Project Argo
The Argolinks WordPress plugin, developed by Project Argo, now powering our What We’re Reading
“The 2016 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet” (updated September 7, 2015)
“Wikipedia-ing the news,” Matt’s RJI Fellowship project in 2008
Vox’s card stacks
Nieman Lab coverage of Circa
MediaWiki, the software that underlies Wikipedia
An example of a Vox StoryStream on The Verge
Radiolab: The Rhino Hunter
Pop Culture Happy Hour
An array of Walking Dead response podcasts

POSTED     Sept. 9, 2015, 9:30 a.m.
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