The Atlantic Lays Off 68 Workers, 17% of Workers, Cuts Pay for Execs – Variety


The Atlantic is the newest media group to get whacked by the COVID-19 financial downturn.

The firm, steward of the 163-year-old American journalism model, introduced that it’s shedding 68 staffers, representing 17% of whole workers. The cutbacks have an effect on primarily Atlantic Media’s occasions, gross sales and editorial staffs. It’s making different cost-cutting strikes, too, instituting pay cuts for executives and a wage freeze for different workers.

“I do know that the pandemic is indiscriminate in its course, reducing by varied industries and geographies. However, as has been the case for many years, our media financial system is very onerous hit,” David Bradley, chairman and proprietor of Atlantic Media, stated in a memo to employees saying the cutbacks. (Learn the total memo under).

Information and digital media corporations which have additionally made layoffs within the wake of the present financial disaster embody Vice Media Group, Condé Nast, Bustle Digital Group, Quartz (which Atlantic Media bought in 2018 to Japan’s Uzabase), The Economist (which is shutting down the print version of the 1843 life-style magazine), and Valence Media’s Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe — together with dozens of native newspapers. Others, together with BuzzFeed and Vox Media, have furloughed employees.

Bradley famous that the Atlantic has signed up greater than 90,000 new subscribers since March 2020, and has 450,000 subs general. However these good points haven’t offset the sudden drop in income within the firm’s promoting and dwell occasions companies.

Put up-layoffs, Atlantic Media will deal with rising subscriptions, setting a goal of hitting 1 million paying clients by December 2022, in keeping with Bradley. As well as, it is going to deal with boosting business-to-business income from the Atlantic 57, Atlantic Re:suppose, and AtlanticLIVE manufacturers.

Laurene Powell Jobs is almost all proprietor of the Atlantic journal, below a 2017 deal transacted by way of her Emerson Collective holding firm. Powell Jobs was the spouse of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Bradley — whose Atlantic Media holds a minority curiosity within the journal and owns Nationwide Journal — had beforehand purchased the Boston-based journal in 1999 and moved it to Washington, D.C.

Learn Bradley’s full memo to employees:


Message to The Atlantic’s Workers

From David Bradley, Chairman and Proprietor of Atlantic Media

A Proper Heading – however, a Laborious Hour

My Atlantic Colleagues,

This writing is tough two instances over. It’s the hardest writing in my 22 years with The Atlantic. And, for some of us, it is going to show tougher to learn than for me to put in writing. I’m very sorry that, by this memo, The Atlantic is saying a layoff of 68 of our colleagues.

There may be, as effectively, promising information to share as to The Atlantic’s prospects. However, frightened that I not bury the lede, I ought to start immediately:

The Memo in Transient

#1 The Atlantic is accelerating its flip to a shopper income technique (and, focusing its premium enterprise providers on our premium enterprise shoppers).

#2 It’s true that the choice is pushed by distinctive progress in print and digital subscriptions since our September introduction of a paywall.

#three However, it’s accelerated—and made needed—by the in a single day and near-complete undoing of in-person occasions and, for now, a bracing decline in promoting.

#Four This morning, we’re informing 68 of our colleagues that we are going to not have a spot for them on The Atlantic’s new course. The contraction impacts primarily our occasions, gross sales, and editorial staffs.

#5 For the remaining of us, the 80%, there may be some sacrifice, as effectively, together with pay cuts for executives and a common pay-freeze for the remaining by the rest of the yr.

Right here, and on the shut, I wish to inform our departing colleagues how deeply sorry I’m. If we noticed any prospect that your jobs would return in a reset Atlantic, we might have discovered one other means ahead.

As we speak’s Departures

I’m writing right here, prematurely of any one-on-one communication. Our senior administration will attain out to everybody leaving The Atlantic by 11:00 this morning. When you’ve got not heard out of your division chief by that point, your place at The Atlantic is safe.

A bunch of us has given extra thought to a beneficiant severance bundle than to every other matter coated on this be aware. However, within the financial local weather of the second, I hesitate over the phrase beneficiant. I don’t know what could be beneficiant sufficient.

The Severance Package deal in Transient

#1 The Atlantic pays a minimal of 16 weeks wage to all departing workers – plus two weeks for every year of service past the primary yr.

(Our standing coverage is 10 weeks plus two extra week’s wage for every year of service past the primary yr. We’re including six weeks to everybody’s severance as some measure of assist throughout this singularly-difficult yr.)

#2 The Atlantic will cowl well being care for departing colleagues by paying COBRA by the tip of the calendar yr.

#three Job Search Help by RiseSmart for three months

  • a nationwide profession counseling and transition agency
  • resume and canopy letter assist
  • LinkedIn profile assist
  • interview teaching
  • one-on-one profession counseling

#Four Job Search Help by The Atlantic

  • resume assist by Atlantic HR employees
  • teaching, brainstorming, with a corps of volunteer Atlantic leaders, managers, and editors
  • creation of “resume guide” of all departing employees members eager to take part
  • devoted networking help/resume distribution by HR networks in New York and Washington

#5 Possession of Your Atlantic Laptop computer for the Period (its period)

Distinctive Colleagues

There is no such thing as a fault on the half of folks leaving the agency. What makes this so significantly troublesome is that these are distinctive and beloved Atlantic colleagues. They’re precisely the identical good individuals who have been chosen to affix us on the outset. Measure for measure, they’ve contributed to The Atlantic as have those that are remaining. It is just that the bottom has shifted.

I had thought that I’d spend some substantial half of this memo explaining the reasoning behind our determination. However, I feel it might converse for itself. The explicit timing is obvious – a worldwide pandemic that has shuttered the financial system typically, promoting acutely, and in-person occasions altogether.

It’s true that The Atlantic is accelerating its transfer to a shopper technique. Like The New York Occasions and The Washington Put up, The Atlantic’s long-term intention is {that a} majority of revenues comes from its readership. However, within the absence of a pandemic and world disaster, we might have discovered some variety of kinder contraction. Absolutely, we might have paused over furloughs as an alternative of severance if we believed the positions have been coming again.

To those that are leaving, you’ll all the time be half of that group that navigated America’s first and nice journal of letters into the trendy period. Had we workplace doorways nowadays, they’d—and will likely be—all the time open.

The Many Years Forward

Even after 163 years, The Atlantic is ample with promise. In a single sense, virtually solely with promise: that which stays is rising – our readership, our subscriptions, premium promoting, programmatic promoting, and the high-end services and products of Re:Assume and Atlantic 57.

Transferring from the publication to the non-public, is there one other shoe to drop? I don’t suppose so. We’ve got been thought of in our response to the COVID-19 disaster in an effort to suppose by now, at one time, all of the departures that circulate from Atlantic’s reset technique. As finest we’re given to see the long run, The Atlantic now’s refitted.

Nonetheless, I’ve been made modest by the worldwide disaster. And, the uncertainty in addition to I.

Tide at Full Flood

Throughout the years, I’ve seen tides of reader visitors are available, and tides exit. However there are moments—9/11, the Obama election, the Trump election—when a surge of readers resets The Atlantic’s attain. We’ve by no means seen something like this second in time. Because of distinctive, even impressed, enhancing and writing, The Atlantic reached 132 million readers throughout March and April. The readership of particular person tales recurrently surpassed the entire of our journal readership after I first arrived. Within the final 90 days, 57 tales reached greater than one million readers, 35 tales greater than 1.5 million readers.

This journalism is our objective. It’s why all of us—editorial and enterprise staffs—come to work. There are moments when the journalism—and its attain—enable us inordinate confidence. In my judgment—20 years on this watch—I consider that is one.


So, what’s altering as to Atlantic technique? The bigger reply is velocity. Given the success of the paywall to-date, and given our more-recent progress in readership, we’ve got determined to carry ahead our goal of one million subscribers to December 2022. The higher quantity of you, the editorial, product, engineering, and progress staffs, are implicated. You may ask how bold is the purpose? Extremely bold. Even bracing. That is the sound of shifting gears in our shopper technique.

To this point—very early—we start effectively. The Atlantic Month-to-month spent 150 years attending to 450,000 subscribers. Within the eight months since we launched the paywall, we’ve added 160,000 new subscribers. Earlier than the paywall was launched, we averaged 4,000 new subscribers a month; because the paywall, we’ve averaged slightly below 20,000.

To the nice, what we’re seeing runs nearer to the success of the bigger nationwide newspapers than it does to the final expertise of magazines. However, in fact, there’s a lengthy technique to go.

Premium Service

In resetting The Atlantic we additionally imply to reset the work our enterprise teams carry out for our largest shoppers. This, too, ought to develop. Extra, as Hayley will convey to her employees, we intend massive ambition on the highest finish.

For the last decade that almost all publications loved straightforward digital advert progress, The Atlantic forged its web huge. Our promoting and dwell groups focused a consumer universe of 800 corporations, bringing in as many as 300 accounts. It’s that lengthy tail of advertisers that’s migrating, over time, to the social media platforms.

The place we’ve got loved progress is within the work of authentic creation – conceiving of massive, custom-made, Atlantic-standard, campaigns for our largest shoppers. More and more, this work is advanced, requiring our promoting, advertising, occasions, and consulting staffs to work collectively. These are the perfect expertise in our trade. In an earlier time, I learn — unobviously — three biographies on Walt Disney. As to authentic creation, there’s a little piece of Disney on this employees.

Equally, Atlantic 57 is flourishing. Even within the face of the worldwide downturn, its service to shoppers is rising. The group will likely be exceptional to see when, as an alternative, it has wind to its again.

My senior colleagues and I carry least certainty to AtlanticLIVE. For a second, let me pay tribute to this distinctive group. AtlanticLIVE is one of The Atlantic’s treasured property, led over time by some of my most-treasured colleagues. For a decade, it has been the premier occasions enterprise in American publishing. For these leaving, I need you to know the fullest measure of our admiration and gratitude.

In a single week in March, perhaps two, the bottom fell out from below dwell occasions—dwell something—worldwide. Of necessity, our occasions work went digital. It seems, there may be substantial room for authentic creation in a zoom-led body on life; to start, we’re in a position to carry our writers into dialog with our readers – at a scale no resort ballroom can match. Even so, all of us hope for that day once we can create, or contribute to, signature occasions corresponding to The Atlantic Pageant and the Aspen Concepts Pageant.

Michael Finnegan, Aretae Wyler, and Hayley Romer will convene (zoom) conferences of our B-to-B staffs to set out progress ambition and plans. Even at one million subscribers and 100 million readers, The Atlantic will want and rely on its enterprise companions as far into the long run as the attention can see.

These Last Ideas

I will likely be becoming a member of division leaders for a sequence of zoom calls with all of you later as we speak and tomorrow. However, let me start that dialog, right here:

To those that are leaving, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to lose you. I’m sorry concerning the market you might be getting into. I’m grateful for this time in your profession that you simply’ve given us.

To these remaining, however with no improve in pay, there too I’m sorry. We held on a very long time to the thought that The Atlantic may funds modest will increase. I apologize that’s not understanding.


I do know that the pandemic is indiscriminate in its course, reducing by varied industries and geographies. However, as has been the case for many years, our media financial system is very onerous hit. This has been a cussed truth the entire of my time within the sector. So, why does any of us select to be right here? It’s simply that journalism, its personal an infection, is tough to shake. We get to play some half—generally massive—in our nation’s pursuit of fact. That’s ennobling, worthy, and terrifically onerous to equal.

And, there may be this second cussed truth: for 163 years, The Atlantic has been within the pursuit of fact. By a sine curve of ups and downs, we’ve grown four-fold in staffing, twenty-fold in readership, to date this century. This story marches on.

I shut with my respect and appreciation to you all.



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