James Bennet and Bob Cohn will be co-presidents of The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Chairman and CEO David Bradley announced today. Mssrs. Bennet and Cohn will replace M. Scott Havens, who announced his departure for Time, Inc. in February.
“So much less to the good, the stunning talent attracts the attention of other employers. And, so, three weeks ago, we lost a wonderfully-talented Scott Havens to the new Time, Inc. But, in that same spirit of pirating from Atlantic Media, I thought we might choose Scott’s replacement from our own ranks,” Mr. Bradley wrote in a staff email.
Mr. Bennet will keep his title of editor in chief, and, in his new role, be responsible for digital product and technology. Mr. Cohn, who was editor of Atlantic’s digital properties, will be in charge of business operations, including sales and marketing, circulation, AtlanticLIVE and The Wire.
“Sharing drinks on the Bennet front porch this week, James and Bob came to a worthy aspiration for their period of leadership to come – that ‘each would own the whole,'” wrote Mr. Bradley.
Quartz, Atlantic Media’s stand-alone business site, will also get co-presidents: Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf. Mr. Delaney has been editor in chief of the site and Mr. Lauf publisher since it launched in 2012.
“Had you asked me a year ago what I thought of co-presidency as a leadership structure, I would have led with skepticism,” Mr. Bradley wrote about the appointment of Mssrs. Delaney and Lauf. “But, stepping into a new role, I found I had all but zero time to lead Kevin, editor-in-chief, and Jay, publisher, in their work. How profitable my neglect!”
Mr. Bradley’s full email to Atlantic Media staff below:
Atlantic Media Colleagues:
As I write, it’s that sunny Saturday afternoon between March snowstorms. This is a note full of good news and spring tidings of summer to come.
Promotions at Quartz
Let me begin by announcing in title what has been, in truth, the governing truth all along. That is that I am promoting Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf to the position of co-presidents of Quartz. The promotion will hardly change their relative responsibilities. But, it is recognition by me of the superior leadership they have shown at this shiniest and most-successful yearling of a website.
Had you asked me a year ago what I thought of co-presidency as a leadership structure, I would have led with skepticism. But, stepping into a new role, I found I had all but zero time to lead Kevin, editor-in-chief, and Jay, publisher, in their work. How profitable my neglect! What else can I under serve to such great effect? Earlier this month, Quartz was chosen as first place winner for general excellence in its category by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. February traffic was four times that of February last year; its online audience now rivals that of The Economist (founded in 1843) and the Financial Times (1888). Under Jay, Quartz revenues were to double this year. In fact, and stunningly, revenues are on pace to triple.
Kevin is as visionary a talent as I have met in my 15 years in media. By his senior year at Yale, Kevin was writing for the New York Times. Groomed by the Wall Street Journal, Kevin was leading the Journal’s website by his late 30’s. Just two years ago, Kevin joined Atlantic Media to realize the conception of Quartz and assemble its staff. Should we succeed, as we have so far, Kevin will be remembered by future generations as the founder of a great global media brand. Retaining the title of editor-in-chief, Kevin now becomes president of Quartz.
Jay Lauf is the founding publisher of Quartz. It’s hard for me to tell you how much I owe this man. With James Bennet, Jay stands at the center of the recovery of our 157-year-old title, The Atlantic. Surely by accident and in error, Jay spent his early career at Conde Nast rising to publisher of Wired magazine. Jay joined Atlantic Media as publisher of The Atlantic in 2008. By 2010, Jay was AdAge Publishing Executive of the Year (with Justin Smith). By 2012, he was AdWeek Publisher of the Year. I think there is some chance that Jay will be considered the great magazine publisher of his generation. Jay retains the title of Quartz publisher as he adds the title of president.
New Leadership for The Atlantic
Please forgive so long a preamble here. Over the years, I have encouraged Atlantic Media leaders to look for, term of art here, “extreme talent” in their recruiting. In part, this is a discipline of patience in searching for our new colleagues. At present, Atlantic Media goes through 15,000 resumes in recruiting over 200 new staff each year. (The Atlantic Media Fellowship has attracted 2,300 applicants for the 40 postings we will make this spring.) At its best, this patience discovers stunning talent.
So much less to the good, the stunning talent attracts the attention of other employers. And, so, three weeks ago, we lost a wonderfully-talented Scott Havens to the new Time, Inc. But, in that same spirit of pirating from Atlantic Media, I thought we might choose Scott’s replacement from our own ranks.
With this note, I am appointing James Bennet and Bob Cohn as co-presidents of The Atlantic. Seeing in them, already, the partnership that Kevin and Jay now have forged, I’m drawn to the advantage of placing both their talents at the head of The Atlantic. James will retain his title of editor-in-chief as he adds the title of president and will continue his responsibility for all of The Atlantic’s editorial creation. He will add digital product and technology to his responsibilities. Bob will transition from editor of Atlantic’s digital properties to president over the business of The Atlantic, including publishing, circulation, AtlanticLive and The Wire. Here, Bob will find great talent already in place, beginning with The Atlantic’s first-tier publisher, Hayley Romer. Bob takes the title of president and chief operating officer. Sharing drinks on the Bennet front porch this week, James and Bob came to a worthy aspiration for their period of leadership to come – that “each would own the whole.”
Can the same person be towering and deep? When James first joined Atlantic Media in 2006, his New York Times colleagues talked about him as a towering talent. From my more-direct experience, he is, as well, as deep a thinker as I know about the future of journalism. “Not caring” is not one of James’ chief attributes. But, he cares about the work of The Atlantic to his center. James didn’t write for the New York Times during his years at Yale, but, he was editor-in-chief of Yale’s The New Journal. His career in journalism has been the stations of the cross – The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and 15 years at the New York Times. As to the re-creation of the brand, James is the most-storied editor of The Atlantic in half a century, maybe more.
Bob’s appointment to the business of The Atlantic is evidence of my belief in gifts over experience. There is nothing in the run of Bob’s career that suggests he should lead the revenues of a media property. Bob graduated Stanford, took a master’s degree at Yale, writing not a word for the Times, and joined the editorial staff of Newsweek. Ten years at Newsweek, seven years at Wired magazine as executive editor, and five years with us. As editor, Bob has led the (against-all-odds) success of The Atlantic’s digital properties, winning for all of us the 2013 National Magazine Award for the nation’s Best Website. But, what I think our Atlantic business staff will see is Bob’s innate gift for leadership. Bob attracts talent, retains talent, sustains a culture of exceptional talent, to as high (and happy) a standard as I have seen. This is Bob’s great gift.
With my note, here, we are all but complete in installing a next generation of leadership at Atlantic Media. Poppy MacDonald and Tim Grieve are serving as co-presidents of the National Journal under National Journal/Government Executive CEO, Tim Hartman. And, Jean Ellen Cowgill, as young a leader as we have, leads Atlantic Media Strategies as its president.
To that handful of you who stayed with me this long, my appreciation. To Kevin and Jay, James and Bob, my congratulations and, as you must know, my appreciation.