The Atlantic: Speechwriting, Rove, Quirkiness

The Atlantic is my favorite media brand. I say brand because they’re much more than a monthly ideas magazine. They have the best web site of its peer group (web-only content, interactive articles, etc), some of the most interesting writers blogging under its masthead (Jim Fallows, Andrew Sullivan, Ross Douthat), they produce the annual Ideas Festival, and much more. Here’s a recent Washington Post piece about their intense hunt for the top talent.

The September 2007 issue is outstanding. Links below are for subscribers only.

Matthew Scully, former speechwriter for President Bush, has a delicious tell-all piece about Michael Gerson‘s role in crafting Bush’s speeches. It’s apparently stirred quite the chatter in Washington. I’ve always been interested in the speechwriting world, and Scully’s first-person piece gives interesting insight into how it all works — and sometimes doesn’t.

Joshua Green has a terrific analysis and prediction of Karl Rove’s legacy. In a word: he had a huge opportunity to re-make American politics, and he failed.

Michael Hirschorn writes a piece on "quirk" in culture:

We’re drowning in quirk. It is the ruling sensibility of today’s Gen-X indie culture, defined territorially by the gentle ministrations of public radio’s This American Life; the strenuously odd (and now canceled) TV sitcom Arrested Development; the movies of Wes Anderson; Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s Web site; the performance art, music, and writing of Miranda July; and the just-too-wacky-to-be-fully-believable memoirs of Augusten Burroughs.

Given that everybody and their kid brother seems to profess their deep love of "This American Life", it’s refreshing to hear someone complain about the show’s "unbearable lightness". I actually haven’t heard it much, but I’m all for the lone voice.

So…do you subscribe to The Atlantic? Do you read Atlantic bloggers? It’s some of the highest quality brain food around.

5 Responses to The Atlantic: Speechwriting, Rove, Quirkiness

  1. krishna says:

    But they sound so yesterday hiding behind that paywall. Haven’t they realized Blogs have played the most disruptive role in the devaluation of text content ? Paid content is dead.

    The new economics of media make charging for content nearly impossible because there is always someone else producing similar content for free — even if the free content isn’t “as good as” the paid content by some meaningful metric, it doesn’t matter because there’s so much content of at least proximate quality that the paid content provider has virtually no pricing power. As smart, talented, and insightful as the Atlantic.com columnists behind the paid wall are, there are too many other smart, talented, insightful commentators publishing their thoughts on the web for free.

    After TimesSelect recently tore down its paywall, I thought the WSJ.com remains the last great bastion of paid content on the web, and with the News Corp acquisition, the pressure to tear down the walls will likely be too great to resist. How soon is anybody’s guess…!

  2. Blake says:

    Do you ever disagree with the Atlantic? Or is it “high quality brain food…” because it reinforces your internal beliefs?

  3. Ben Casnocha says:

    Sure I disagree sometimes, but I should note that Atlantic doesn’t really have an ideology. I would say they’re the most center of the road of its peer group. Harpers, New Republic, National Review, Weekly Standard, American Prospect, etc etc all have very clear ideologies. The Atlantic is all over the place, which makes it fun.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I especially enjoy The Atlantic’s “letters to the editor” where they publish critical notes from readers and then let the writers respond to those accusations.

    In every issue there’s at least one “Jane, you ignorant slut” moment where the frame of appropriateness is broken by a particularly haughty Atlantic journalist.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Krishna,

    Actually, I’ve heard elsewhere that the Wall Street Journal is soon going to be rid of its paid content feature. The future is in advertising, friends. ;)

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