Thursday, April 14, 2005

A BOSTON INSTITUTION LOST. A long-rumored, much-dreaded move has come to pass: the Atlantic Monthly, a legendary Boston institution, is being uprooted and moved to Washington, the home of owner David Bradley. Romenesko has posted the memo.

This is truly awful news. Bradley has been a reasonably good steward since buying the magazine from Mort Zuckerman, but owners come and owners go. Bradley may have the legal right to yank the Atlantic out of Boston, but he doesn't have the moral authority, any more than he would to roll up the Boston Common and spread it out a few blocks from Capitol Hill.

In October 2003 I did a column on how the magazine was faring following the tragic death of Michael Kelly, who had stepped down as editor in order to report on the war in Iraq. I asked Bradley about rumors of a Washington move, and he responded by e-mail that "the honest answer is that this is proving a harder issue than I had imagined. My original thinking (and statement) was that Atlantic would remain in Boston. As it remains. The problem, principally for my account, is that I'm finding it hard to lead a culture at such distance. Whatever my skills, they do not include a strong public presence, a natural gift for leadership."

Well, now he's done it. Almost as bad, managing editor Cullen Murphy has decided to step down rather than make the move. It's one more sign that Boston just doesn't matter anymore.

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