January 7, 2016

After spending months retooling the way it reports on the nation’s capital, The Atlantic on Thursday launched new sections aimed at capturing the attention of policy wonks and political junkies alike.

The new verticals — dubbed “Politics and Policy” and “2016 Distilled” — are part of an effort by The Atlantic to maintain a presence in two different but interconnected areas of D.C. coverage: The deep-dives on Washington laws and lawmakers that are synonymous with its brand and the higher-metabolism, snackable reporting craved by political obsessives.

“Politics and Policy,” a revamped version of The Atlantic’s current politics section, incorporates former National Journal staffers to cover Washington broadly and deeply, said Bob Cohn, the president and chief operating officer of The Atlantic. It’s aimed at chronicling “the American idea as it manifests itself in the politics and policy world.” The section will eschew trying to cover every tiny development in the capital in favor of a more cerebral approach.

“We want to provide the same kind of intelligence and ideas-driven journalism that we’re known for and do it more aggressively and at a higher-velocity than we were in the past,” Cohn said.

Also new today is “2016 Distilled,” a political news dashboard that aspires to be the default homepage for political aficionados. It’s meant to be a quick entry point for daily political news, with at-a-glance features that include a poll tracker, roundup of media mentions and a digest of which political candidate is stumping where.

The up-to-the-minute nature of “2016 Distilled” scans as a concession to the reality that news organizations like POLITICO have accelerated the pace of political journalism in the nation’s capital. But Cohn says The Atlantic has successfully competed for digital audiences in the past and frames “2016 Distilled” as a portal for high-octane reporting already being produced by The Atlantic.

“This is not some monthly magazine that just decided to play around on the Web a little bit,” Cohn said.

Today’s launch is the realization of a plan outlined last year, when Atlantic Media bosses announced that National Journal, the company’s ruminative magazine on politics and policy, was being downsized and transformed into a subscriber-focused website. That shift was accompanied by a planned increase in political coverage from The Atlantic, where several of National Journal’s journalists have landed.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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