RETHINKING THE ATLANTIC: Paraphrasing Paul Tsongas, who once said the last cell of his body that hadn’t fallen prey to cancer would be the one that wanted to run for president, Atlantic owner David Bradley said the last cell of his body to survive would be the one that bought the Atlantic and sought to “revivify it.” The 10 years of his ownership, Bradley told those assembled at Le Cirque for the presentation of the Atlantic’s redesign, might be characterized by “timidity,” but he added that the Atlantic now sits in a new city (Washington, after 148 years in Boston), has a newish editor (James Bennet, formerly of The New York Times, as of 2006) and, as of this week, has a new logo and tag line (“Think. Again.”), and a new look, crafted by Michael Bierut at Pentagram. The Web site, amassing what’s been called the Yankees of blogging, has been redesigned by Bond Art + Science, and a branding campaign featuring provocative, if by turns vague, questions from the magazine has been dreamed up by EuroRSCG.
Bennet noted that the premiere issue appeared during the financial panic of 1857, “which began in banking.” Aptly, the new look was unveiled in a room that included several marketing hands from financial services companies, who might have gamely viewed the proceedings, but who plainly didn’t know if they’d have a job for the next planning cycle.
One person with a new, extra job is national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, who joined from The New Yorker just over a year ago, and who will now write a regular advice column, “What’s Your Problem?” Michael Hirschorn, king of the high-low hopscotch, will have a media column, and Virginia Postrel will write on business.
In a live enactment of “Thinking. Again.,” Goldberg interviewed New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks, who offered two telling anecdotes about Sen. Barack Obama. In his dealings with Brooks, Obama proved capable of both a 30-minute discourse on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as well as a certain social intuition. When Brooks wrote a column criticizing Congress — “it was the Republicans, but I threw in the Democrats to make myself feel better” — he said Obama e-mailed him to say it was fine if Brooks wanted to criticize the Senate, but “you just threw in the Democrats to make yourself feel better.” — I.C.