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Dubya-bashing and Porn to be Salon's salvation?
April 25, 2001 1:20 AM   Subscribe

Dubya-bashing and Porn to be Salon's salvation?...Oh wait, there's sassy synopses of reality TV shows too!
posted by BGM (40 comments total)

 
Is anyone here going to hoink up $30.00 a year for this? With over 40 full time creative staff and a bus full of contributors, they couldn't come up with anything more compelling?
posted by BGM at 1:23 AM on April 25, 2001


heh heh.. bush SUCKS!
posted by holloway at 3:17 AM on April 25, 2001


I've gotten five good years out of them without paying a red cent. They still appeal to me. I'm payin' up.
posted by crasspastor at 3:41 AM on April 25, 2001


I can't wait to get my 30 buck tax return from Bush and gang so I can sign up...it all evens out, unless you are very wealthy.
posted by Postroad at 5:08 AM on April 25, 2001


Some of their other writing is pretty good but not really great. I don't know, I guess people like reading stuff that's on their sides, or agrees with their party or philosophy.

Maybe they were better before, I can't recall reading much of them pre-election. The people they have running the film sections are pretty straight on their opinions too, mostly they worship Pauline Kael and go on by the same lines. Eeek.
posted by tiaka at 5:10 AM on April 25, 2001


I like the technology section, but quit going to the site when they switched over to frequent-clickthrough softporn.
posted by mecran01 at 5:46 AM on April 25, 2001


People don't need to pay to find lots of funny things about the Commandeerer in Chief. They just need to read a real paper.

But this is a fairly smart move. For just thirty bucks, the squeamish can say they're buying 365 days of laughing at Duh-bya and really be buying "premium-only galleries of erotic art and photography." If you want a successful business model, Internet or not, the best bet will always be a plan that includes plenty of sex but wraps it in something that makes the old "I buy it for the articles" excuse plausible.
posted by pracowity at 5:53 AM on April 25, 2001


I've enjoyed Salon for a while now; the writing is pretty good, the content is pretty varied and non-standard. I would also hate to see another web news source go under.

I just subscribed; hell, it costs less than a daily paper.
posted by delfuego at 6:23 AM on April 25, 2001


If they consider petty attacks on a specific individual (no matter how much I dislike him myself) to be a bonus for paid subscribers, it sounds like their editorial policy is taking a nosedive. I found their list of "benefits" to be insulting enough to make me less inclined to pony up, even though I was considering it before. I still haven't made a final decision, but this move is disappointing.
posted by harmful at 6:33 AM on April 25, 2001


When they dump Paglia I will consider it...she has not a good word to say for anyone but herself.
posted by Postroad at 6:38 AM on April 25, 2001


Soft Porn?!

Where do I sign up?!?
posted by Outlawyr at 7:04 AM on April 25, 2001


They've finally waked to the fact that just offering the same content without ads doesn't work. I don't see ads on their site now, because I use ad-blocking software. They don't have the ability to control what gets delivered to my computer; this isn't "push" like TV. The only way they can get people to subscribe is by offering content only available to subscribers.

I predict this fails, by the way.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:08 AM on April 25, 2001


it sounds like their editorial policy is taking a nosedive

I think they gave up any pretense of objectivity a long time ago. In fact, I've never been able to locate any trace of their editorial policy on the website which I find pretty dishonest. Regardless, you certainly don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out where Gary Kamiya and the rest of the senior staff are coming from politically. I find that kind of rabid partisan lapdogism to be pretty tedious. I can't see paying money to read gleeful attacks on Bush any more than I could fathom the Dittohead phenomenon on the Right.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:19 AM on April 25, 2001


same here, i've had webwasher installed for a month now, and haven't seen one ad on there (or anywhere else) since then...

besides, we'll see if the number of users going there takes a dive, and Salon will probably find some other way to get revenue instead of being overtly capitalist.

maybe they can get the Bush dynasty to pony up their annual costs in return for a softer stance on the puppet who thinks he's in charge?

in other words, just wait it out.
posted by dispodip at 7:34 AM on April 25, 2001


When they dump Paglia I will consider it...she has not a good word to say for anyone but herself.

That really is not true, you just don't like her because she reminds you of your Ex.
posted by thirteen at 8:07 AM on April 25, 2001


I've never been able to locate any trace of their editorial policy on the website which I find pretty dishonest.

Can you point to an example of such a policy from another site? I can't recall having seen a "pledge of objectivity" on any Web site (or in any magazine or newspaper, for that matter).

At least Salon bothers to run corrections, which is more than most publications with an obvious political slant can be troubled to do.

I don't read Salon's political coverage, so that's not really a factor in my decision to subscribe. There's plenty else there worth paying 8 cents a day for.
posted by jjg at 8:08 AM on April 25, 2001


I'm subscribing because I want Salon to stick around. The pay-only features are a little cheesy, but Salon's a great source for news, opinion and creepy first-person sex essays that start like Penthouse Forum letters.

I've always been a little surprised at how little appreciation the Web community seems to have for Salon. Considering the number of times weblogs link to them and their stories get attention in other media, I'd expect more people to be hoping for it to survive the dot-com bust.
posted by rcade at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2001


I like Paglia. She tackles issues that many people would rather leave alone. I don't always agree with her, but her stuff is usually thought-provoking. Of course, I'm easily provoked.

I'm mulling over whether to subscribe. I don't visit the site as much as I used to, but I would miss it. Watching them struggle for profitability has been strangely unsettling.
posted by gimli at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2001


The "subscribers only" section is pretty unappealing at the moment. Lately, it's seemed that Salon is about 40% soft porn (gee thanks Salon, one thing the internet needs more of...) however if this experiment works for them, then future items, stories and gimmicks that have never been part of the "free" version of Salon, may go straight to the "subscription only" model.

I’ve been reading Salon pretty much since it's inception (just for the soft porn, no “serious” articles, honest!!) and it's slowly been changing, nay, devolving. Sure there are still many gems amongst the dross, but this change is their trump card. The word "subscription" is sure to elicit fairly extreme reactions from their reader base.

I'm not sure if this will "fail" or not. For a long time I’ve been wondering if Salon itself was going to be "fail" (given their ever more desperate tactics) However this really is an interesting test case, because this is the first time that a lot of people will even have to think twice about whether or not they will actually pony up for this.

There’s a problem with this subscription model, in that it isn’t adaptable enough, doesn’t have enough choices That’s one reason I probably won’t be paying for this (remember the rest of the world? $30 = $60 AU) The other reason is simple, the subscription “benefits” simply aren’t that interesting. However that too could change. Salon has been “introducing” their “improvals” fairly stealthily. They realise that their customers (who dislike change at the best of times) will balk at any changes that are introduces on masse. They probably have plans to expand their subscription section, pretty well as far as their customer base will let them.

For probably the first time (with a couple of near and glorious exceptions) we have a large, popular, established site implementing a subscription model. A lot of sites will be viewing this experiment with great interest. Will this change the mindset of a lot of Internet users who hitherto found the idea of a subscription site to be an anathema to all that is good and wholesome about the Internet?


Re the comment:

"I don't know, I guess people like reading stuff that's on their sides, or agrees with their party or philosophy."

Given that Salon have regular contributors on their books who hold views and mindsets that I intensely dislike (like the disgusting David Horowitz) I would perhaps find that comment to be somewhat offensive, except that I believe that it was not intended to be so.
posted by lucien at 8:45 AM on April 25, 2001


> I've always been a little surprised at how little
> appreciation the Web community seems to have for Salon.
> Considering the number of times weblogs link to them and
> their stories get attention in other media, I'd expect
> more people to be hoping for it to survive the dot-com
> bust.

The fact that lots of people seem to like Salon, and yet aren't especially concerned whether it will last, just shows how ephemeral web.stuff is and how confident we are that when X goes away something else just as interesting will pop up, and last a little while, and then something else...

The cry "Give us money or we'll have to shut our site down" just has no power as a threat. The web is a great give-away but it doesn't sell. Folks trying to sell web content are like folks trying to sell air. (And not even fresh air...)
posted by jfuller at 9:46 AM on April 25, 2001


I read Salon daily and I must admit that for the first time, I was tempted by this subscription idea. It wasn't for the "Bushed!" section, or the soft porn, but for Amy Reiter's column. I must admit, I like my celebrity gossip. She seems to have a decent conscience, and she only takes cheap shots sometimes (unlike that crass idiot Camille Paglia). And the subsciption is much less than a subscription to the other more traditional gossip outlets like People and US Weekly magazines.

Maybe it will work on the power of us closeted gossip column lovers out there...

But I'll tell all *my* friends that I subscribed for the Bush-bashing.
posted by raintea at 10:05 AM on April 25, 2001


The rationale of those signing up thus far seems to be composed mostly of guilt: "I know Salon's teetering on the edge of shutdown, yet I read them everyday, so I guess I ought to give them a donation subscription." The added features, what few there are, are apparently besides the point for most. And even here at MeFi, where the users are more likely to be pro-Salon than at many other points on the web, not many are biting. In the end, this is just not going to be enough to save the company.

And given that this now allows Salon's most economically comfortable subscribers to avoid ads altogether, who's going to want to buy an ad with them at all?

Can you point to an example of such a policy from another site?

Yes. Right in their flag.
posted by aaron at 10:20 AM on April 25, 2001



Jesse, Brill's Content has their policy listed at least as prominently as it is in their print magazine. And under the same header (which I love) blaring "What We Stand For"

Not to mention that Brill's cover models are so attractive, I almost consider them to be soft porn.
posted by anildash at 10:31 AM on April 25, 2001


To hell with soft porn. If I ever need artful eroticism, I'd go to Nerve in a heartbeat.

Salon has completely lost me as a regular reader. They have ceased to be interesting. And I find myself frequenting them largely out of ennui with the vain hope that they will once again return to the halcyon days of 1996. They are a far cry away from their early days as a fun and gossipy collection of articles. Their political articles point out the same sweeping pro-Democrat, cowardly liberal statements that I could easily find in any blase highbrow magazine from New York.

And what are we left with? Book reviews that read like myopic Entertainment Weekly features, technology stories that beat several dead horses and arts and entertainment articles pointing out trends documented months earlier.

Ocassionally, there's the interesting article or two. But these are too far and few between. $30 for this drivel? I'd sooner go to Ironminds or Spark than I would Salon. And even IM is beginning to show some early signs of being tired.

Besides, you could subscribe to about two half-decent magazines for that price. Personally, given all the easy potshots at Bush (as opposed to actual probing of what he's doing in office), I can't see how anyone can take Salon seriously anymore.
posted by ed at 10:41 AM on April 25, 2001


I question the propriety of making content permanently unavailable. I emailed Salon, asking whether Premium articles would appear in the archives for free, and while I have yet to receive a response, my assumption is that they will not.

Salon is basically a Harper's or a New Yorker without the paper (or the budget). The difference between being forced to pay for a newspaper or a magazine and being forced to pay for an online-only publication is that, even though the NY Times, for example, makes you pay for archived articles, you can always go to the library and get them for free. Not so if Salon limits access to archived Premium content. Of course, there would be a similar loss of information if Salon went out of business, but in this case they're intentionally limiting free (in both senses of the word) access to information.
posted by Bezuhin at 11:18 AM on April 25, 2001


So what's stopping you from asking your local library to get subscriptions to Salon for its computers?
posted by snowmelter at 11:35 AM on April 25, 2001


From: Scott Rosenberg [mailto:scottr@salon.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 3:13 PM
To: Kevin A. Reiss
Subject: Re: Premium queries


Let me try to answer your questions.

At 12:12 PM 4/25/01 -0400, you wrote:
>Dear Salon Premium:
>
> 1. It wasn't entirely clear to me, but are all the recaps of
> reality TV
>shows like Survivor 2 and Boot Camp to be Premium only?

For now only Chains of Love is going to be "premium."

> 2. How does the Premium service affect the archives, to wit, is
> Premium
>content only going to be available through the archives to Premium
>subscribers, will it not be available at all, or will it be available to all
>after a certain "cooling-off" period?

A story that's published as "premium" will remain "premium-only" even in
the archives.

> 3. Is the advent of Salon Premium the harbinger of a paradigmatic
> shift in
>which Salon for all intents and purposes goes all premium, with only a few
>scraps left free to entice you to subscribe, akin to the model of
>newyorker.com, where you really have to go out and buy the magazine to enjoy
>it at all?

Right now our plan is to keep most of Salon free and offer a smattering of
goodies to subscribers. That's I think the shape of the program in the near
term. If it works well for us I don't think we'd want to change it. Longer
term is of course hard to predict. Just as 3-4 years ago I wouldn't have
predicted we'd be doing Salon Premium now I can't say for sure how this
will evolve.

Cheers --

Scott Rosenberg
managing editor
posted by Bezuhin at 12:21 PM on April 25, 2001


I am stupified about their decision to put the "Chains of Love" summaries in the Premium section and leave "Survivor" and "Boot Camp" on the free side. The crap is supposed to be the enticement you put out in front of the store to draw the people inside, where they'll have to ante up for the stuff they really want, not vice versa.
posted by aaron at 12:54 PM on April 25, 2001


sassy synopses of reality TV shows

Oh, man! Those are the main reason I even go to Salon anymore. The Big Brother ones last summer were particularly entertaining. Oh well. They ain't work thirty bucks.

Aaron, I figure since Survivor2 and Boot Camp are already underway, that's why they made this decision (there's only two eps left of Survivor, anyway). Now, Survivor 3 (and Boot Camp 2?) will likely be a different story.
posted by daveadams at 12:56 PM on April 25, 2001


For now only Chains of Love is going to be "premium."

If that isn't a joke it's one of the saddest things I've read in a while.
posted by gimli at 2:12 PM on April 25, 2001


anil, stop flirting with mathowie.

For those of you who haven't read Salon for years, well, yes, they used to be better. I wouldn't say that the quality has markedly declined, it's just contracted: fewer pieces in the arts, in non-opinionated political reporting, and other areas that used to flesh the place out more. (They went through two staff contractions where it was reported that hit count was a factor.) Paglia will stay; she's probably more widely read than Horowitz, at least until the reparations flap. Maybe there's something I'm missing, but I wouldn't call either one of those writers liberal, so how would Salon labeling itself a liberal publication be accurate? There's no requirement that they label themselves, and aren't conservatives the ones mumbling on and on about personal responsibility etc.? Hell, let the Free Republicans figure out for themselves that it's a liberal place, it should take them each several weeks of close reading. Pronouncing the syllables. Sheesh.

I'm not going up in arms over the premium pricing. I hope it works for them, although I'm probably not going to be a subscriber (at least until Survivor 3, heh). Personally, I'm happy with the ads (well, the big ones on the page aren't a problem, and I can turn off the pop-ups). Gotta pay the electric bill, you know. People on TV are always saying Bill Maher-style, "I've got to get paid, hang on for a commercial." What's the big deal? Television broadcast is expensive, and web serving isn't cheap at their readership level.
posted by dhartung at 2:15 PM on April 25, 2001


I too feel that Salon's decline, such as it is, has been mainly the result of the decreasing scope of their offerings. I very much miss the kind of original investigative reporting that Salon once offered on a regular basis, where now one generally finds rather bloodless analysis pieces. Their media and arts commentary has become far sparser, as well; once upon a time, I would have considered paying a subscription fee just for the sake of James Poniewozik's media criticism (he cleverly left for Time Magazine in 1999). These days, I often find that a given day's offerings include absolutely nothing that catches my fancy, which certainly was not the case two years ago. Still, I'm downright addicted to the reality-TV summaries. I'm not sure what it is, but I must like my media experiences extra-super-mediated, as I have no interest whatsoever in watching the actual shows, but the Salon pieces delight me to no end.
posted by redfoxtail at 2:52 PM on April 25, 2001


Heh heh. Bush SUCKS!
posted by holloway at 3:55 PM on April 25, 2001


MisterBaliHai, can you tell me why the Fox network doesn't broadcast station IDs admitting their blatant conservative bias?
posted by misterzoo at 8:09 PM on April 25, 2001


make holloway stop saying that, please (sniff, sniff). he's scaring me...
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:30 PM on April 25, 2001


For now only Chains of Love is going to be "premium."

Yes, this is a sentence I'm going to file away someplace, perhaps under "State of the web in mid-2001."

I just wish they would offer some sort of trial version. I know in their faq they claim they aren't offering a trial because they "feel that the services and content offered have been clearly defined" but I think if I were given a week of the ad-free version, I'd be more inclined to not want to go back to the numerous animated banner ads.

And I wonder how many IP addresses constitutes and "unreasonable number of discrete locations."
posted by gluechunk at 11:48 PM on April 25, 2001


MisterBaliHai, can you tell me why the Fox network doesn't broadcast station IDs admitting their blatant conservative bias?

Because, as you'd know if you bothered to watch it rather than merely parroting what you're told by others, their news coverage is no different from any other network's. It's their talk shows that actually give a voice to conservatives.
posted by aaron at 6:44 AM on April 26, 2001



Dan Gillmor took a closer look at the terms of the Salon Premium service, and it looks like there are some exceptions to the elimination of ads. I think Gillmor may a bit overly concerned, though; most of the exceptions seem to be CMA language for ads that Salon can not control, such as ads in frames served by another site.
posted by harmful at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2001


Care to see an example of what Salon means by "Erotic art"?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2001


Nobody told me anything about Fox, Aaron. I discovered it all for myself, and was outraged at their obvious bias and their disingenuousness in making that clear from the outset. So much for complaints about "the liberal media".
posted by misterzoo at 9:11 PM on April 26, 2001


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