At the onset of the recession, newsstand sales [of Harper’s] dropped sharply. Revenues from print ads, already flagging, continued to diminish. So did payroll, which was small to begin with—one reason why the staff skews young. A senior editor in 2010 was earning what a senior editor had earned a decade before, already below industry standards. There were no retirement benefits. Or dental. The standard dollar-a-word rate we paid outside writers, likewise, remained stagnant, unadjusted for inflation. And the staff was being downsized—and there was downsourcing, with more responsibility being pushed on to unpaid interns and junior staffers who could be rewarded with titular promotions rather than compensation.
In early 2010, declaring a fiscal emergency, MacArthur took what seemed like desperate as well as drastic measures. He fired the editor-in-chief without warning, hired a new cover designer (at added cost; it used to be designed in-house), announced yet another freeze on cost-of-living adjustments, asked fewer (and younger) people to work longer hours, and responded to questions and objections and even sometimes to politely worded suggestions with the sort of contempt for the editors on his staff that he has now displayed for them on your Web site.
Donovan Hahn. But if people at the Atlantic say the magazine is making a profit, they’re LYING!