Information May Want to Be Free—but Not Journalism

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My first real job in journalism was writing about labor unions and workplace issues. Brushing up, I read a book called The Teamsters that was then about six years old. It was an amazing history of power, greed, and crime at the most powerful union in the world, back when unions had real power. The author, a Yale Law school grad named Steve Brill, published the book when he was just 29. He went on to an impressive career as a media entrepreneur: founder of American Lawyer magazine, founder of Court TV, founder of Brill's Content, columnist for Newsweek. Now he's got a plan to make journalism pay, and it begins online. Hint: "The Atlantic is idiotic to give its stuff away for free." (Note to my old boss and friend Chris Anderson: He's not so enamored of the Free concept.)


Watch my interview with Brill from the Aspen Ideas Festival after the jump.

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Bob Cohn is the president and chief operating officer of The Atlantic. He was previously the editor of Atlantic Digital, the executive editor of Wired and The Industry Standard, and a writer at Newsweek. More

As The Atlantic's president and chief operating officer, Cohn oversees business and revenue operations for the company’s print, digital, and live-events divisions. He came to the job in March 2014 after five years as the editor of Atlantic Digital, where he built and managed teams at TheAtlantic.comThe Wire, and The Atlantic Cities.

Before coming to The Atlantic, Cohn worked for eight yeas as the executive editor of Wired, where he helped the magazine find a mainstream following and earn a national reputation. During the dot-com boom, he was the executive editor of The Industry Standard, a newsweekly covering the Internet economy. In the late 1990s, he served as editor and publisher of Stanford magazine. He began his journalism career at Newsweek, where for 10 years he was a correspondent in the Washington bureau, at various times covering the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Clinton White House.

In 2013, TheAtlantic.com won the National Magazine Award for best website. During Cohn’s tenure at Wired, the magazine was nominated for 11 National Magazine Awards and won six, including honors for general excellence in 2005, 2007, and 2009. As a writer, Cohn won a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for coverage of the Clarence Thomas confirmation process.

A graduate of Stanford, Cohn has a masters in legal studies from Yale Law School. He lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and two daughters.

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