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Letter From the Chairman
WOULD THEY KNOW US?
Our Boston Beginning
On a Tuesday afternoon, May 5, 1857, magazine publisher Moses Phillips convened a five-hour meeting of some consequence – to us – of New England’s leading literary minds. Gathered at the Parker House Hotel were, among a few others, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. With their concept, and Phillips’ capital, the group decided to launch The Atlantic Monthly magazine.
In part, the men (later joined by Harriet Beecher Stowe) sought a national publication for their writings against slavery. More generally, and in the words of The Atlantic’s modern-era editor, Cullen Murphy, the magazine was “an attempt to define and create a distinctly American voice: to project an American stance, to promote something that might be called the American Idea.”
In the Pantheon
The Atlantic founders are in the pantheon of great American minds of the 19th century. And, drafting a founding “Declaration,” they were about high purpose: “In politics, The Atlantic Monthly will be the organ of no party or clique, but will honestly endeavor to be the exponent of what its conductors believe to be the American Idea… It will not rank itself with any sect of anties: but with that body of men which is in favor of Freedom, National Progress, and Honor…”
…and, in the Fray
How much do I concede in admitting that, at least, my work at Atlantic Media feels some many rungs down life’s ladder – less pantheon, more fray. At its founding, The Atlantic Monthly weighed in on the great issues of the era at the stately pace of 11 articles per month. Across our several titles – more digital than print – (The Atlantic, The Atlantic Wire, The Atlantic Cities, National Journal, Government Executive, Quartz) Atlantic Media now publishes 220 articles and posts every day. At a rate of 80,000 pieces per year, some are about freedom, national purpose and honor. Some, less so. Writing high, writing low, writing for the moment and, on occasion, for all time, Atlantic Media feels very much in the bustle of life of its 22 million global readers.
So, Would They Know Us?
Were Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes to return for a term, would they recognize their mark in us? Would they click on our sites and mark them as favorites?
Well, there is this. As in 1857, The Atlantic – and now its sister titles – writes for the single most-educated readership in the United States. And, our Atlantic Media writers hold, as close to religious faith, two tenets that date to our founding:
(1) That, considering issues honestly, wholly on their merit, we are in service of “no party or clique;” and
(2) That in our writing, as in the nation’s life more broadly, it is ideas that matter most.
So, would they know us? Well, some of us more than others; likely, I’d be out, calling on advertisers. But we would know them and, mostly proud, want to walk them through our work.
David G. Bradley
Chairman – Atlantic Media
David G. Bradley
Before entering media, David founded and owned two (now public) research companies – The Advisory Board Company and The Corporate Executive Board Company. With 50,000 applicants each year, the enterprises are the largest employers of young professional talent in the Washington, D.C., area. During his early 20s, David was a Fulbright Scholar in the Philippines. He graduated from Swarthmore College, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and, more recently, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Swarthmore. His board memberships include the Council on Foreign Relations, the New America Foundation, KIPP DC, Bridges of Understanding, and the Manila-based Child Protection Network.
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