The Atlantic's Editor-in-Chief is Trying Very Hard to Find Someone Other Than White Men to Write Cover Stories

Image: The Atlantic

Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, just can’t figure out why the 10,000-word magazine cover story is a skill that only white men have managed to hone. Luckily for us short-winded women, Goldberg is here to help.

In an enlightening interview with Nieman Lab, Goldberg and Atlantic executive editor Adrienne LaFrance discussed hiring practices and promotions of women employees at the publication. The Atlantic has actively hired a talented crop of women writers in the last couple of years, and Goldberg insists that hiring women in editorial leadership positions is a top priority for him. But perhaps this would be an even easier feat if he had more confidence in the skills of women journalists he’s hiring in the first place.

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In a bizarre choice, Goldberg said that only white men write lengthy, robust cover stories. He lamented this so-called reality, and ham-handedly tried to claim that he’s dedicated to changing that.

Here’s what Goldberg had to say when he acknowledged the shortcomings his publication has faced regarding diversity. Emphasis ours:

GOLDBERG: 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 worth noting that not a single cover story since 2018 was written by a woman of color.

Anyway, moving on [emphasis mine]:

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!

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Um!!!

That’s one way to approach it, but the other way to approach it is, huh, you’re really good at this and you have a lot of potential and you’re 33 and you’re burning with ambition, and that’s great, so let us put you on a deliberate pathway toward writing 10,000-word cover stories. It might not work. It often doesn’t. But we have to be very deliberate and efficient about creating the space for more women to develop that particular journalistic muscle.

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Watching Goldberg attempt to sound like he’s doing women of his industry a solid when he’s really just dousing them in condescension is painful. Considering which voices are actually being elevated at The Atlantic—especially notoriously transphobic ones—is too. Given this direction, maybe we’re better off without the kind of voices Goldberg is eager to showcase.

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About the author

Ashley Reese

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.