Nieman Foundation at Harvard
You’re more likely to believe fake news shared by someone you barely know than by your best friend
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March 28, 2024, 3:26 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Hanaa' Tameez   |   March 28, 2024

The Atlantic has surpassed one million paid subscriptions and is profitable, according to an announcement from the company Thursday. Fifty-six percent of the subscriptions are digital and 44% are print/digital bundles.

In an email to staff sharing the news, editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and CEO Nicholas Thompson wrote, “The key to continued success is to be constructively dissatisfied with the present, and so both of us believe very strongly that our 1 million subscriptions represent merely the foundation of future excellence and growth. Profitability is also perilous in the media industry, and we are going to continue to be highly disciplined in how we run our operations.”

The Atlantic’s revenue rose 10% last year to nearly $100 million, with two-thirds of it coming from subscriptions, according to The Wall Street Journal. (When Thompson became CEO in February 2021, less than half of revenue came from subscriptions, the Journal noted.) It raised subscription prices: An annual digital subscription cost $50 in 2021 and now starts at $80 (a combined print/digital subscription with no ads on the website is $120 per year). The Atlantic also shifted its editorial strategy to cover large issues more deeply (garnering 36,000 subscribers in the first month of the pandemic in 2020 for its coronavirus coverage) during a two-year listening study of what its readers want and need. In November 2021, the magazine experimented with newsletters as a subscriber perk, bringing nine Substack newsletters into the fold and turning them into paid, subscriber-only emails.

The Journal also outlines The Atlantic’s success with Apple News+:

Additionally, the publication has about 100,000 users who read the magazine through Apple News+, a product that charges a discounted price for access to a number of magazines and news publishers. Thompson said the Atlantic gets roughly the same amount of revenue from everybody Apple counts as an Atlantic subscriber as it gets per direct subscriber.

The success is a turnaround from May 2020, when the company, owned by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs, had laid off 68 employees, mostly in its video and in-person events departments. Per The New York Times, The Atlantic had 500,000 paying subscribers at that point, meaning the company added another half a million subscribers in just under four years.

Goldberg told the Journal that The Atlantic is now experimenting with artificial intelligence and is “building an experimental website and app with AI features, such as AI-based games and search.”

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