Scott Stossel on The Atlantic’s Success, Obstacles

coverThe Atlantic editor Scott Stossel recently spoke to Nieman Fellow Rachel Emma Silverman on his outlet’s online and print successes and obstacles in a changing media landscape.

The two discussed a variety of topics including writer salaries, the hiring of big names, and gender and racial parity at the outlet.

On going fully-digital:

“My hope is that we’ll continue to get enough print advertising to invest in the print product. But I’m platform agnostic. In fact, if we could suddenly convert our 500,000 print subscribers—all of them pay, even though all the content is free on the Web—to digital subscribers and scrap the print magazine, our bottom line would be so much better. We could pay writers more because we wouldn’t be paying for printing and mailing. But we can’t force the issue because we’ve got $10 million worth of print subscribers.”

On writer salaries:

“If you’re sitting on the corporate floor and you look and say, “We have a 22-year-old kid we’re paying not very much money who can write a post at nine in the morning that goes totally viral and gets all the ads … Or we have these experienced journalists who we’re paying much larger salaries for, and it costs much more money to subsidize their reporting and the whole apparatus around producing that piece. Gee, shouldn’t we get rid of all those expensive ones and just do more of that?” Sometimes there has been that tension, but I think there’s a realization that you need both. Again, this gets back to brand, that our brand is associated with rigor, length, and careful curation. These are questions we struggle with.”

For the full excerpt, click here.