I agree with you, Greg: from what I’ve seen of the Atlantic Wire, it seems to be, as you say, “a useful digest of elite opinion.” In this age of overload, aggregators are—almost as a rule—useful, and the aggregation of opinion is no less helpful to us bleary-eyed, link-addled news consumers than the aggregation of news itself. Real Clear Politics and its ilk could use some company—and some competitors. From that perspective: Right on, Atlantic Wire.
But, then. To the extent that aggregation is an inclusive endeavor, it must also, of course, be an exclusive one; and the ‘elite’ element of the Wire’s attempt to be a one-stop shop for opinion—expressly by focusing on “the columnists and commentators leading the national dialogue”—does, I have to say, give me some pause.
Take “The Atlantic 50,” the collection of pundits whom Atlantic Wire has dubbed its “all-star team.” I hate to be, you know, that guy…but I can’t help but notice how generally old and white and male are the denizens of that list. (Out of the fifty, there are nine women—18 percent of the total; three people of color—6 percent; and no intersection between the two.) That’s not the fault of The Atlantic, of course; the list was determined, it says, by an algorithm based on a pundit’s influence, reach, and Web engagement, and is a pretty fair reflection of the way the world works right now. But, still: It’s just a tad ironic that a service that purports to glorify “the boldest ideas and bravest thinkers of the day” seems also—from a demographic perspective, at least—to endorse, rather than challenge, the status quo.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.