Andrew Sullivan on The Atlantic’s Redesign

Andrew Sullivan:

I understand that advertisers like “verticals” to pitch certain kinds of products, and are allegedly leery of individual bloggers with style. I also know in this media climate how vital advertising is, and how our survival online is critical to our endurance in print. I am not a businessman. And I deeply believe in the Atlantic, as readers well know. If this keeps us afloat, that sure is better than going under. If there is business genius here, congrats to all involved.

But treating blogs as a series of headlines, designed to maximize pageviews, is a deep misunderstanding of blogs, their reader communities and their integrity.  I hope they get restored to their previous coherence, and these amorphous “channels” gain some editorial identity. I hope writers like Fallows and Goldberg aren’t treated as random fodder — anchors! — for “channels”. I believe in the Atlantic as a place for writing. The redesign seems to me to ooze casual indifference to that and to the respect that individual writers deserve.

If you’re not a regular reader of The Atlantic’s online content (if you’re interested at all in politics and national affairs, I recommend it highly), prior to their new redesign, they hosted about half a dozen individual writers’ weblogs. They looked and felt like separate blogs under The Atlantic’s parent umbrella. The redesign throws all but Sullivan’s together into a hash.

Count me in with Sullivan that this is, from a reader’s perspective, a change much for the worse.

(Noteworthy: Sullivan states that his Daily Dish accounts for 55-60 percent of The Atlantic’s online traffic; hence the exception.)

Monday, 1 March 2010