Browsing my RSS reader one night last week I came across a shocking post by Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic Monthly:
My editors at the Atlantic have never put pressure on me to hawk any product or call attention to anything in the print magazine or even to shill for subscriptions.
That’s one of the reasons I thought I’d take it upon myself to ask you, readers of this reported blog on politics, to think about subscribing to the magazine.
What’s shocking about this has nothing to do with ethics. It’s the mere fact that Marc feels compelled to make a plea in the first place — and the fact that it sounds so futile:
I’ll concede the point: you can get read the Atlantic for free on the website. But reading the magazine is an experience. And today, with the nexus of the economy focused on Washington, with an administration facing epochal challenges… it’s an experience that I think more people should share.
Guys, I feel your pain. If, as I fear, this means one of the cornerstones of American magazine journalism is about to go under, I will be sad beyond words. And yes, I have subscribed again, thanks for asking. But I’d also like to point out something that may not be so great to hear: your magazine has seen better days. The web site is great and the bloggers are hugely entertaining, but the print magazine lacks focus. After Langewiesche left and Bowden went over to the dark side, it has no writers I feel drawn to, at least not enough to actually look forward to the next issue. In comparison, look at The New Yorker: some weeks I don’t read it at all, but then there are issues packed with goodies from Packer or Mayer or Wright or Coll or Hersh, or someone I’ve never heard of; and that’s all I need to want the magazine in bed with me.
My suggestion? How about luring the talent back? How about re-establishing the bond with your readers? How about making your case again — what you are, what you represent, and why I should care.