The Atlantic is the latest site to put content behind a paywall. Readers can access five free articles per month before being invited to subscribe for access to more pieces, an exclusive weekly newsletter, and other perks depending on the subscription tier.
In a Thursday announcement posted to the website, Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg explained the move, which he hopes will “help support 162 more years of journalism that matters.”
He recounted a story about the magazine from 1864, when, he said, President Lincoln made it clear he was a loyal Atlantic reader.
“The Atlantic, just seven years old at the time, had already become America’s indispensable magazine of ideas, argument, and great narrative. Over the next 155 years, our stories would shape the nation, and the world: from Frederick Douglass’s appeal for suffrage, to Alfred Thayer Mahan’s case for the United States as a global power, to John Muir’s essays that helped establish the National Park Service, to Helen Keller’s treatise on industrialization and women’s empowerment,” Goldberg wrote.
He continued, “Our writers, including the greats of three centuries — Ralph Waldo Emerson and Harriet Beecher Stowe; Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, and W. E. B. Du Bois; Virginia Woolf, Albert Einstein, Sylvia Plath, David Foster Wallace; and on and on — have helped America understand itself, and understand the world, like no other magazine has ever done.”
Goldberg heralded the magazine’s past, highlighted its present successes, and said the goal for the future is “nothing less than to be a standard-bearer for truth in an age of disinformation.”
The Atlantic may be seeing success, but downward trends in news media have underscored the need for creative solutions across the board. Some outlets have turned to paywalls and ads. Others, like Cleveland.com, are using text messaging-based subscriptions to compete in the digitally-savvy world. Notably, the site made the decision to take down its previous paywall in 2008. Here’s an AdWeek piece on that from the time, but be advised that it, too, is paywalled.
Atlantic subscribers can pay $49.99 per year for a digital subscription, $59.99 for a print and digital subscription, and $100 for a “premium” subscription that gives them discounts on merchandise and priority access to events.
A representative for the Atlantic told TheWrap that while it’s too soon for specifics, “We had a very positive early reception to the launch from both new and existing subscribers.”