Andrew Sullivan is Underpaid

The Atlantic made a $1.8 million profit, mostly from Andrew Sullivan's blog.

The Atlantic reports a profit of $1.8 million for 2010, a remarkable turnaround for a venerable publication and a nice story for an industry otherwise in free fall.  Almost all of the profit comes from their revitalized Internet presence.

What’s interesting is that Andrew Sullivan‘s Daily Dish “account[s] for more than a quarter of the site’s unique visitors and close to half its visits.”    If my math is right, they should fire everyone else but Sully and his loyal minions.  Yes, they’d lose close to half the visits.  But, unless Sully’s making more than $500,000 a year, they’d still come out ahead.

(I actually like a lot of the rest of the site’s content and know a couple of the other bloggers personally and hope they don’t actually get fired.  I’m just musing about the math.)

UPDATE: I’m reliably informed that the reported profit numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Essentially, the online side of the ledger shows up as almost pure profit because the salaries are being attributed to the print side of the operation.   Which makes sense.   James Fallows’ blogging is pure gravy; it’s extra work that he wouldn’t have done in the old days and he’s likely not being paid much more to compensate him for all the pageviews he’s generating.   And Megan McArdle, hired as a blogger, has risen to become the magazine’s business and economics editor.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Economics and Business, Media, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. john personna says:

    If Megan is a pure capitalist she will recommend her own dismissal 😉

  2. john personna says:

    BTW, I rarely go to The Atlantic directly, but when I do I go to the Food page. Probably not one of their big money makers either.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that your reasoning is backwards, James. It appears to me that this is another instance of the 90-9-1 rule for which the best interpretation in this context is that to get one highly productive writer you’ve got to employ ten productive writers and 90 not particularly productive ones.

    I seem to recall that there is actually empirical support for this dating back to the 1960s. Research from IBM if memory serves.

    Firing the other 99 doesn’t work. It just makes the one less productive.

  4. Tano says:

    “Firing the other 99 doesn’t work. It just makes the one less productive.”

    How exactly does that work?
    Andrew was pretty productive all those tears he was on his own,,,

  5. My guess is that Sully makes over $200k, add in the salaries for his underbloggers, and indirect expenses and well, he probably isn’t leaving too much on the table.

  6. John425 says:

    Just what the world needs- an underpaid blogger who writes through a gay prism and has an unhealthy fascination with Sarah Palin’s uterus.