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The Atlantic Announces ‘Unprecedented’ Defense Site

Atlantic Media Prez Justin Smith announced today that it’s launching Defense One, a new media brand for the national security community, later this summer. Defense One, according to a morning release, aims to deliver “high-quality news and analysis” to defense leaders and stakeholders navigating “the unprecedented” transformation of U.S. defense strategy and operations. Ken Doctor broke the news of Defense One in a column about the “newsonomics of influentials” for Neiman Lab on May 9. Adweek wrote about it early this morning at 12:14 a.m. Adweek reports that the site has yet to hire an editor. The launch, as stated in the release, will be underwritten by Northrop Grumman.

The operation will start out small, says Atlantic Media spokeswoman Linda Douglass, but they ultimately plan to build a team of 18-20 staffers.

The product is geared to the national security leadership community — Defense leaders (military flag-officers, civilian DoD leadership, National Security Council and staff), Congress (House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees), and others who play an influential role, such as contractors and think tanks.

“Defense One will bring to this important market the disruptive combination of intelligent, indispensable journalism and leading edge digital expertise that is the hallmark of all of Atlantic Media’s properties,” said Smith in the release. “We see Defense One as a major growth venture and a core Atlantic Media brand.”

Also “unprecedented” in the defense media market, they say, Defense One will launch an iPhone and Android App in the fall and a special eBook Series by the end of the year.

But some are skeptical that this will be that different from what already exists.

A defense industry insider remarked to FishbowlDC, “The defense and nat-sec niche is already pretty crowded and there are groups like Politico and Foreign Policy’s National Security that are already well-established with morning must reads and other niche products and blogs in the race to reach the influencers.”

And a media executive who spoke only on condition of anonymity seconded that sentiment, saying, “It’s hardly novel to cover defense and do events: Politico does it, CQ does it, lots of other publications, too. What is novel is that this is a big gamble for Justin Smith: his overhaul of NJ wasn’t a success, Quartz has not been the success he had hoped, so this is his third swing at something new.”

We asked Douglass what will differentiate Atlantic‘s product from the existing ones. She declined to comment on a comparison of brands.

The release seems to address this, although in a sleek, public relations sort of speak: “Defense One will meet an important need for defense leaders, helping them to identify and understand the trends and ideas that will define the U.S. defense posture of the future. Its editorial approach will focus on tracking and analyzing four core trends affecting the defense environment: budget uncertainty, emerging national security frontiers, new management paradigms, and the opportunities brought by emerging technology.”

UPDATE: The Atlantic grew prickly over the remark that Quartz has not been a success. Perri Dorset wrote us to say: “The statement from an unnamed media executive about Quartz, Atlantic Media’s global business news brand, is simply false. Here are the facts: Quartz (QZ.com) launched just seven months ago and has built a high-quality, global readership even faster than we had originally targeted. The site had 2.3 million unique visitors (Omniture) for the month of April. Quartz recently won first place for Design at the 2013 Digiday Digital Publishing awards, was cited as one of TED’s 100 sites you should use, and was just named one of TIME magazine’s 50 Best Websites. Quartz sponsors in 2013 include Boeing, Cathay Pacific, Loyalty 1, KPMG, Polo/Ralph Lauren, and Chevron. Quartz has exceeded our internal projected metrics on all fronts. By almost any measure, Quartz is a success—one of which Atlantic Media is very proud.”

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