Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Atlantic Needs Young Talent To Survive

Atlantic Media man David G. Bradley wants to remake the century-and-a-half-old Atlantic monthly magazine. To do this, he wants to hire 300 of "the smartest human beings" to write for the website as essayists - to create what he calls "a culture of great talent."

You know what's better business prospect than a group of uber-experts who already have high-paying jobs?

Hiring a bunch of young, highly educated people who can be groomed as a long-term solution to the Atlantic's money-losing woes.

The Atlantic's brand is serious journalism. It's online presence, however, is stagnant (not to mention its circulation!). Everyone respects the Atlantic's name and what they say.

Not everyone cares to seek it out. (Or brave its ugly homepage.)

Bradley needs to hire young talent because known uber-experts aren't going to present a reason to read the magazine online. Journalistic personalities and known bloggers aren't going to give me a reason to read the Atlantic. A new name with a new voice will. A staid voice, one that only the Atlantic can provide. What's the purpose of hiring someone like Markos of DailyKos if I can syndicate his "voice" through his blog? Or another big-name writer, whose voice transcends the masthead into multiple stories?

The Atlantic needs a marquee name, but it needs to cultivate it. Give me strong reporting, give me a story that isn't currently being reported and make sure you spell it right - because even veterans can't get it right.

Take a lesson from sports teams - those that hire star players hedge their bets on one expensive, but productive, season. Those that invest in young talent invest in a dynasty.

So Mr. Bradley, give me trust from a masthead that I'm willing to trust. You might be losing circulation, but you're not losing your head.

Here's Bradley's chance to revamp the Atlantic and stop resting on its laurels. The venue is new - online - and maybe his staff should be, too. We can all agree that they'll work harder. Be Salon - without being "Salon." Be what they want to be.

People will read it if its accessible. They'll read it even more if it's new and original.

So invest in young, talented journalists to do it. They're cheaper and more productive. And hell, our C.V.s are only a click away.

Now that's a long-term plan. Get it?

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