Atlantic Media launches a online publication aimed at the defense/intellegence community

Yesterday, Atlantic Media, the parent company of The Atlantic, launched Defense One. The site’s editor describes Defense One’s mission as such:

Defense One will deliver a daily mix of stories by award-winning journalists and useful, insightful commentary across the entire national security spectrum — from politics and procurement to global affairs and ground troops. Expect breaking analysis on the top news events of the day to run alongside deeper dives that shine a critical light on lesser-known facets of a national security world that most never see. Look for a range of voices from senior leaders in Washington to commanders abroad and next-generation thinkers far from the political scrum.

Defense One  is one of a number of experiments that Atlantic Media has run in niche publishing. Last year the company launched Quartz, a website dedicated to international business news. These moves make sense, as by virtue of publishing The Atlantic, the company has built up a stable of expert writers on these topics.

However, it’s interesting to note that Defense One and Quartz do a number of things that separate them from their older sibling. The design of both publications is optimized for mobile display (especially Quartz). And while both sites allow for commenting, readers need to “opt in” to see the comments. Finally, both sites are driven by sponsorships, not ads.

The net result are publications that clearly seem to be distancing themselves from the more “blog-like” appearance of The Atlantic, perhaps in order to cater to a more professional/specialist audience.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Intelligence, Media, National Security, ,
Matt Bernius
About Matt Bernius
Matt Bernius is a design researcher working to create more equitable government systems and experiences. He's currently a Principal User Researcher on Code for America's "GetCalFresh" program, helping people apply for SNAP food benefits in California. Prior to joining CfA, he worked at Measures for Justice and at Effective, a UX agency. Matt has an MA from the University of Chicago.


  1. James Joyner says:

    I’m a bit bemused that they didn’t just create channels under the Atlantic or National Journal brands instead of bifurcating. Indeed, they’ve weakened their existing Global and Business channels with this breakout.

  2. Matt Bernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    Agreed. Two thoughts as to why…

    First, I see both publications as being experimental “labs” if you will. Hence the different look and feel, not to mention sponsorship/advertising models. If I understand things correctly, both will be “branding” advertorial content in ways that the Atlantic would not.

    Generally speaking, its far easier to experiment with these sorts of things when you’re not worried about screwing up an existing brand. Trust me. I’ve lived this.

    Second, I think both publications are part of a larger trend away from the “blogification” of content that’s been underway for about a decade. Other examples include the recent decision at the NYTimes shuttering blogs and bringing that content back into a more “mainstream” publication format.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    The Atlantic is a favorite of mine; I’ve subscribed to the dead-tree-edition for — gosh! — decades, now that I think about it. And the website has introduced me to lots of interesting writers (TNCoates, Megan McArdle, Andrew Sullivan) as well keeps me more current than I’d otherwise be on old favorites (James Fallows). I was saddened to see their recent ‘sponsor-generated-content embarrassment with the Scientology cult.

    So when I read this little post I was concerned that they’d strayed into the ‘sponsor-generated’ weeds again.

    Did you fellows read ‘Defense One’? I clicked on and it looks pretty damn interesting. Like most of the history/poli-sci nerds I know, military and diplomatic writing falls within my wheel-house so scanning around and reading into several of the articles there gave me a strongly favorable first impression.

    And on the general topic: It’s wonderful what is being covered on the inter-webs these days on the military/diplomacy line. Anyone who is a sucker for that stuff should look once in a while at ‘lawyersgunsmoneyblog – dot – com’ and at The Diplomat. A sample – didja know that India is refitting a former Soviet carrier and that their pilots apparently are training in the U.S. using Mig 29K’s. I’m like a kid in a candy shop with this kind of information at my fingertips.

  4. Matt Bernius says:


    So when I read this little post I was concerned that they’d strayed into the ‘sponsor-generated’ weeds again.

    Oops. I didn’t mean to suggest that. However, they will be doing advertorials on the sites. I just they are going to be far better managed than the Scientology thing (which I also suspect might have helped lead to these experiments).

    Did you fellows read ‘Defense One’? I clicked on and it looks pretty damn interesting.

    Totally agree.

  5. Very good publications and style of writing. I think I’ll check back on this site at a later time and discover what exactly else you might have in store! 😉 I’m
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