Bob Cohn, the president of the national magazine The Atlantic, is leaving the publication on Sept. 7.
Cohn, who has been at The Atlantic for more than a decade and was named Adweek’s Publishing Executive of the Year in 2018, has accepted a three-month fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics and is using the opportunity “as a natural off-ramp” from his time at the publication, Atlantic Media chairman David Bradley told staff in a memo today.
“Bob explained to me that he thought he had an asymptotic-to-zero chance of winning the Harvard fellowship, and his decision to leave altogether has evolved only since winning the award,” Bradley wrote in the memo, which The Atlantic also published on its site. “In a conversation this Sunday afternoon, Bob explained his larger decision to start anew. It is the same restless spirit that made Bob such an astonishingly-successful reformer here at The Atlantic. After almost eleven years at the publication, five as its president, Bob finds he is ready for the next challenge.”
Atlantic Media president Michael Finnegan and chief administrative officer Aretae Wyler will divide Cohn’s responsibilities and direct reports “for the foreseeable future” following Cohn’s departure, Bradley said.
Cohn, a former journalist and editor who began his career writing for Newsweek, has overseen a period of change and considerable growth for the 161-year-old publication since he assumed the role of president in 2014. Under Cohn’s leadership, The Atlantic has grown its staff by more than 140%, from 180 people to 440, and has doubled readership from 15 million to more than 30 million readers.
He’s also pushed the publication into new business opportunities, including a robust events business that produces more than 100 events annually and a budding podcast business. In a 2018 interview with Adweek, Cohn said he was poised to bring more of The Atlantic’s journalism to television and home voice assistants as well as expanding its push into subscriptions and paid content.
During Cohn’s tenure, The Atlantic also saw a major ownership change, when Laurene Powell Jobs philanthropic arm Emerson Collective acquired a majority stake in the magazine.