Takeaway: Thompson balances the informative with the interesting to create buzz both in print and online.
While The Atlantic has a reputation based on counter-cultured youth and energy, economics writing, to be kind, does not. Those are the two worlds Derek Thompson occupies as the business editor at TheAtlantic.com though.
â€śBusiness and economics arenâ€™t naturally interesting to a lot of people,â€ť he admits. â€śSo we try to write stories that are wide enough to get someone like my grandmother reading, but also deep enough to engage wonkster economists.â€ť
Thompson, in addition to overseeing editorial content for the business section, is second in attracting unique visitors to TheAtlantic.com out of a stable of more than 20 writers.
Working in tandem with Jordan Weissmann, another business writer at The Atlantic, Thompson covers the Millennial, or Generation Y, beat. He points to a story in the September 2012 issue as one of his most important pieces to dateâ€”not necessarily for the content, but for the way it was published and the reaction it drew.
The story itself, â€śThe Cheapest Generation,â€ť expanded on previous blog posts, analyzing why 21- through 34-year-olds are buying cars and houses at lower rates than their predecessors and discussing how the trend could affect the economy at-large.
â€śWe took two strong website pieces, put them together, spun it forward to create a great magazine piece and then spun that magazine piece back out onto the web to continue the conversation. So it was a nice, virtuous cycle that I think speaks to the exciting possibilities of a print magazine and website existing as a cohesive unit.â€ť
That cycle arose naturally out of â€śThe Cheapest Generation,â€ť but now that he has a template, Thompson hopes to replicate it.
â€śThat way,â€ť he says, â€śthe idea is really living both in the awesome and messy real-time world of the Internet, and also in the more rarified air of the printed-page mailed to half-a-million subscribers.â€ť