I sometimes mention the obvious distinction between The Atlantic Monthly on paper for grownups and TheAtlantic.com with its proliferation of intern-written hot takes on “Last Night’s Episode of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Reminded Me of My Feelings About My Hair.”
The Atlantic’s editor has noticed it too.
The Atlantic Editor Under Fire for Saying Writers Who Can Pen Long Features are ‘Almost Exclusively White Males’
By Ken Meyer Jun 6th, 2019, 2:49 pm
Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, was raked across the coals on Thursday after media observers noticed his recent suggestion that white men make up pretty much the only demographic of writers who can produce super-extensive cover stories.
Goldberg’s comments came in an Atlantic piece about how the organization has shaken things up and put women in many more editorial positions than ever before. As he and Executive Editor Adrienne LaFrance took questions on where The Atlantic still needs work, Goldberg offered this take on how hard it is to find people who can write decent, 10,000 word cover stories:
We continue to have a problem with the print magazine cover stories — with the gender and race issues when it comes to cover story writing. [Of the 15 print issues The Atlantic has published since January 2018, 11 had cover stories written by men. —Ed.]
It’s really, really hard to write a 10,000-word cover story. There are not a lot of journalists in America who can do it. The journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males. What I have to do — and I haven’t done this enough yet — is again about experience versus potential. You can look at people and be like, well, your experience is writing 1,200-word pieces for the web and you’re great at it, so good going!
Goldberg’s remarks have drawn criticism on Twitter, with a lot of people unimpressed with his idea that being a woman somehow renders one unfit for writing cover stories:
Is Goldberg implying that Ta-Nehisi Coates didn’t really write his big stories in The Atlantic? Back in 2015, I pointed out that TNC 18,000 word cover story in The Atlantic on “The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality” didn’t read much at all like his bestselling (but pretty dotty) memoir.
When Goldberg became editor of The Atlantic, he inherited some fine veteran female writers, such as Caitlyn Flanagan.
But the Current Year isn’t doing much to hone female talent since the reigning ideology merely encourages women to indulge their pettiest, most boring feminine tendencies: e.g., Let’s Talk About Me. Sure, that can generate a lot of clickbait junk, but it is bad for doing serious work.