Earlier this month, The Atlantic shocked many by announcing that, for the first time in decades, they had made some money on an actual smart-person magazine. To what strategy did it owe this windfall of profit, which totaled a respectable $1.8 million? Why, the Internet, apparently! In 2010 digital advertising for The Atlantic jumped mountains, pulling off a 70 percent increase.
Magazine owners on the redder side of budget sheets, however, harbored their suspicions. In a look at the civil war zone that’s been the Harper’s newsroom for the last 12 months, New York discovered that publisher Rick MacArthur may be jealous over the giddy lack of losses over at David Bradley’s D.C.-based mag.
MacArthur’s a bit of a Luddite. In an article published in his magazine last December he referred to the Internet as “a gigantic, unthinking Xerox machine” (A bit Ted Stevens-esque, no?) With this distrust of the Internet, it’s understandable that a rival magazine’s ability to wring money from the online world would rankle such a man.
And going by the article in New York, rankle it did!
When one staffer brought MacArthur’s attention to a recent New York Times article that stated The Atlantic was profitable this year because of its heavy investments in the web, MacArthur responded: “They’re lying. They’re a private company and they can say whatever they want.”
It looks like Harper’s won’t be poaching Andrew Sullivan to blog for them anytime soon.