2018-02-21 12:47:03
The Atlantic Plans a Hiring Spree

A media company is expanding its newsroom. You read that right.

The Atlantic plans to add as many as 100 employees to its staff over the next 12 months, its president, Bob Cohn, told employees during a staff meeting on Wednesday. The hirings will represent a 30 percent increase in personnel at the publication, with half the jobs going to newsroom employees.

“We have great ambitions to grow The Atlantic and make it better and these are the ways we think we can do it,” Mr. Cohn said in an interview on Tuesday.

The ramping up comes six months after Emerson Collective, an organization run by the philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, acquired a majority stake in Atlantic Media.

The Atlantic’s decision to go on a hiring spree is surprising at a time when legacy publications and recently established websites alike are cutting costs and shedding employees. The announcement of the hires came on a day when Vox Media said it would lay off some 50 staff members, with most of those targeted working in the social video departments at Racked, Curbed and SB Nation. The Vox move occurred, not coincidentally, in the wake of Facebook’s recalibrating its News Feed so that it will drive less traffic to content produced by professional news organizations.

Earlier this month, CNN Digital announced job cuts, and Condé Nast laid off senior employees at Vanity Fair and Glamour magazines, both of which have newly installed editors. Last fall, on cost-cutting measures, Condé Nast ended the regular print run of Teen Vogue and reduced the print frequency of other magazines in its stable, including Bon Appétit and W.

The implementation of the austerity plan at Condé Nast roughly coincided with the sale of the once-mighty Time Inc. to the Meredith Corporation — the Des Moines-based publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle magazines — in a $2.8 billion deal made possible by an equity infusion from Koch Industries, the sprawling conglomerate run by Charles G. and David H. Koch.

With Emerson Collective as its new patron, The Atlantic has avoided the grim fates of its fellow news organizations. In a memo to the staff, Mr. Cohn said that circulation is at an all-time high — it rose 13 percent last year — and that visits to Atlantic Media sites rose by 25 percent in 2017.

“I think quality journalism is a scarce commodity these days and I think the discerning readers reward places that are making stories that mean something,” Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, said.

The planned additions to the newsroom are meant to bolster the magazine’s coverage of Washington, Hollywood, Europe and the tech industry.

“It will be a mix of writers and editors and video producers and podcast producers and live events producers,” Mr. Cohn said. “Those are areas of coverage that we want to focus on, and we’ll do it across all our platforms: digital, print, live events, video, audio, newsletters.”

Other jobs will go to engineers, designers and members of a new team the magazine has called Talent Lab, which is intended to “help us achieve one of our paramount goals: ensuring that our team is truly representative of America in all of its diversity,” Mr. Cohn wrote.

When it acquired a majority stake in The Atlantic, Emerson Collective — which focuses on education, the environment and immigration — expanded its portfolio of media and entertainment holdings. It is also an investor in Axios, a media company started by the Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei and its former star reporter, Mike Allen, and in Pop-Up Magazine. In 2016, it took a minority stake in Anonymous Content, the production and talent management company behind the movie “Spotlight.” The organization also supports several nonprofit journalism organizations, including the Marshall Project, Mother Jones and ProPublica. It was founded in 2004 by Ms. Powell Jobs, the widow of the Apple co-founder Steven P. Jobs, who died in 2011.

“Emerson is eager to see us grow and succeed, and they were excited at helping to make this happen,” Mr. Cohn said.

Mr. Goldberg said he looks forward to bringing The Atlantic back to its 19th-century roots, when its founders, including heavyweights like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, viewed the magazine as a forum for some good old intellectual brawls and tussles.

“We are in a moment of national fracturing, and our expansion allows us to do a lot more of the kind of work that really is in our DNA,” Mr. Goldberg said. “We can double down on our coverage of Washington and this administration. We can double down on publishing the best and most interesting and thought-provoking ideas about the American future.”