Say this, good or bad, for The Atlantic–its left hand does not seem to know what its right hand is doing. The magazine’s new story about Gawker–getting buzz already for Nick Denton’s note that he wouldn’t have clarified the Christine O’Donnell story–seems unaware of The Atlantic‘s own aggregation efforts. “The ‘reporting’ that staff writers do is almost all online,” writes James Fallows (scare quotes are his).
A photograph in the article’s attached slideshow of Gawker headquarters, midway through the article, depicts an encrusted paper plate surrounded by three packs of cigarettes. But can the desks of Atlantic Wire aggregators, led by former Gawker editor Gabriel Snyder, look so very different? “The Atlantic is now profitable in part because traffic on our Web site is so strong,” writes Mr. Fallows, crediting the likes of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Andrew Sullivan for a success due, “in part” as well, to young online “reporters.”
Granted, Gawker’s big hits are crasser, and less informationally nutritious, than the Atlantic Wire’s, but the piece’s lack of mention of The Atlantic’s less high-minded, long-lead reporting is a bit odd, especially given that the article seems almost to strain to explain its magazine and their new-media efforts. “Even as it necessarily evolves, our news system will be better the longer it includes institutions whose culture and ambitions reach back to the pre-Gawker era.” Do The Atlantic‘s pre-Gawker ambitions make the Atlantic Wire more than just a blog? No use reading Fallows’s piece for hard answers: a Ctrl+F (blogging skills!) search for “wire” only yields a mention of Wired, as a legacy institution into which “any new project” might evolve.
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