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The Atlantic is an American magazine that features political and cultural commentary. It is published 10 times a year.

The magazine was founded as The Atlantic Monthly in 1857 by a group of prominent writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was based in Boston until moving to Washington in 2005. It was among the nation’s leading literary magazines for more than a century and has long been praised for its sophistication and literary quality, though it has rarely made money.

The magazine was owned by real estate mogul Mortimer Zuckerman from 1980 until 1999, when it was bought by its current owner, Washington consultant Dave Bradley.

The Atlantic reinvented itself in 2007, placing a new emphasis on its digital operations and dropping the “Monthly” from its name. It hired a group of prominent bloggers, including Andrew Sullivan (who left for the Daily Beast in April 2011) and Jeffrey Goldberg, made its site free to all visitors, and opened its archives. In 2009, it launched an opinion aggregator called The Atlantic Wire, which it relaunched as The Wire in 2013. The Wire had a staff of just under 15 in 2014. It also began placing a broader emphasis on cultural criticism, rather than on simply policy and politics. (That change met with criticism when, for example, the magazine put Britney Spears on its cover for a story about paparazzi in 2008.) The Atlantic also launched photo and video aggregation sites in 2011.

The Atlantic announced that it would experiment with online paid-content models in 2013.

The Atlantic launched a business news site, Quartz, in September 2012 with a staff of 25. The site, which has a mobile- and tablet-based focus but no apps, was free at startup, with four initial sponsors. (It had 15 within eight months.) It offers advertiser-created content through the Quartz Bulletin. The site’s journalists are organized around “obsessions,” rather than traditional beats. By July 2013, it had reached 5 million monthly users. As of mid-2013, about 25 to 30 percent of its traffic came from mobile.

It launched a defense-oriented news site, Defense One, in July 2013 with a full-time staff of three, with plans to steadily expand.

The Atlantic’s traffic jumped quickly after the changes and reached 10 million unique visitors by May 2011, hitting further highs the following year and reaching 16 million uniques in March 2014. By 2010, the magazine overall turned a profit for the first time in decades, and in 2011, more than half of its ad revenue came from digital media — up from 9 percent in 2008. In 2012, nearly two-thirds of its overall revenue came from digital, and in 2013, it posted its highest profits ever.

The Atlantic’s website features content from the longform journalism website Longreads through a partnership formed in 2013.

In September 2010, the site launched its Tech Channel, whose content generally adopts a cultural and historical view of technology. The vertical is overseen by author and former Wired reporter Alexis Madrigal.

In 2014, The Atlantic launched a social network called This, which allows users to share one link per day.

The Atlantic launched an iPad app in 2011 and added an-iPad optimized HTML5 web app in 2013. It introduced a weekly iPhone magazine for $2.99 a month in 2013.

In May 2011, The Atlantic’s website began experimenting with opening its pitching and editing process to the public, allowing readers to pitch stories and give editing feedback.

In 2009, The Atlantic began selling short stories on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.

Sponsored content made to resemble Atlantic articles has been a critical part of the site’s advertising strategy. In 2013, it ran and then deleted a sponsored article by the Church of Scientology, then apologized for it.

The Atlantic also runs an events business called Atlantic Live that holds dozens of events each year, including off-the-record dinners with journalists and public officials.

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: August 21, 2014.
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