The Atlantic acquired more than 20,000 paying subscribers in the five-day period after it published editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg’s damning article about President Trump denigrating U.S. military personnel who died in combat.
On Sept. 3, the Atlantic published “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,’” largely based on anonymous sources.
The 20,000-plus new subscribers represent incremental annual revenue of at least $1 million to the magazine. “Our readers have demonstrated how much they value our reporting, with a record 20,000 subscriptions in just five days” after Goldberg’s piece was posted, Michael Finnegan, president of Atlantic Media, wrote in a memo to staff Wednesday evening, which was posted online.
Overall, more than 10 million people have visited the Atlantic’s site to read the story since it was published, “and many more have become aware of it through our own follow-up reporting and news segments and analyses everywhere else,” Finnegan added.
Three days after the Atlantic’s article posted, Trump attacked Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of philanthropic and investment company Emerson Collective — the majority owner of the Atlantic — over the piece. “Steve Jobs would not be happy that his wife is wasting money he left her on a failing Radical Left Magazine that is run by a con man (Goldberg) and spews FAKE NEWS & HATE. Call her, write her, let her know how you feel!!!”
Powell Jobs has not responded to Trump’s attack. Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (who died in 2011), has an estimated net worth of $33.1 billion, per Bloomberg.
Since the Atlantic instituted a paywall in September 2019 for online content, it has signed up more than 300,000 new subscribers and now stands at more than 500,000 paying customers total, according to Finnegan. That’s nearly three times the subscriptions the company originally projected reaching in two years. The Atlantic added over 100,000 new subscribers in May and June combined, he said.
The magazine charges $50/year for digital-only access and $60/year for a print and digital subscription. The Atlantic has set a target of hitting 1 million paying customers by the end of 2022.
“Now one of our greatest responsibilities is to convince those hundreds of thousands of subscribers that we’re worthy of their support for years, and decades, to come,” Finnegan wrote.
Atlantic Media will be making “some targeted and modest investments over the next year in editorial, product, engineering, and growth,” according to Finnegan. That comes after the Atlantic in May laid off 17% of its staff, or 68 employees — which included the elimination of its video department — and cut pay for senior execs, citing the economic impact from COVID-19.
In 2004, Powell Jobs founded the Emerson Collective, an organization for social change, investment, education, immigration reform, climate change action and media advocacy. In 2017, the Emerson Collective bought a majority stake in the Atlantic.