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Salon admits banner ads don't work and asks for subscriptions,
March 20, 2001 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Salon admits banner ads don't work and asks for subscriptions, with the alternative being bigger, new (probably flash-enhanced) banners. I wish more companies did this, allowing users to pay to get rid of ads. I've paid for Eudora 5, and I'll be paying Salon for the same luxury. Will Salon be the first of many or the last? (via rc3)
posted by mathowie (57 comments total)

 
Side question: would you pay subscriptions to sites like the NY Times, Ironminds, Slashdot, or even MetaFilter, in order to get an ad-free experience that's rich with features?
posted by mathowie at 2:21 PM on March 20, 2001


Rich with features... I don't know, they'd have to be good features, certainly not the NY Times. I know their features. MeFi, probably, so long as I wouldn't have to be subscribed to a hundred other sites to get the posts. Perhaps Pyra could be the big member entity, and MeFi, Blogger, and some upcoming stuff could be the features. I don't know you guys, and I don't even know if MeFi is associated with Pyra at all, but that would work, I think.

And the blogger hordes, came forth and burst the Mefi open...
posted by mblandi at 2:33 PM on March 20, 2001


I'd pay for Salon, NY Times, Ironminds, MetaFilter (I already have paid for the ad-free Eudora).

(Ironminds yesterday put an American Express pop-up ad on their site that would not stop popping up and it was annoying enough that I went away until they pulled the ad.)
posted by MarkAnd at 2:35 PM on March 20, 2001


I think if you had one subscription to multiple sites (like the porn sites do) it would work well.
posted by owillis at 2:36 PM on March 20, 2001


I'm torn. I have to respect Salon's giving its readers an alternative to the new ads, which I find visually very obnoxious.

But then, I find Salon's current table-based layout pretty obnoxious already - get with the CSS positioning, Salon! - and long ago wrote a text-only filter that links to the one-page "printable" versions of the articles.

So, should I block the filter from outside users, now that it directly competes with Salon Premium? Or do I leave it open, on the principle that I'm just freeing some information?
posted by nicwolff at 2:37 PM on March 20, 2001


If Salon had offered this a year ago, it might have been tempting. Sadly, the place just isn't the same without Wanderlust, and barely keeps me coming back as is. Besides, it's yet another subscription to be maintained, yet another recurring expense, and who really needs any more of those?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2001


I think the approach that they are taking is a good one. Keep the current content free, but users will have to deal with advertising.

For the subscription service they are adding additional features and content less the advertising.

I wonder how many will actually pay. Especially the $30 that they're saying it will cost. Compared to a magazine, the price is ridiculous. The price is more comparable to a newspaper subscription, but is the amount of content (and quality) even close to that of a newspaper? I don't think it is. I'd be hesitant to subscribe for such a service.

As owillis pointed out, if every site I go to requires me to pay a subscription, it'd be nice to have some sort of common subscription system rather than individual ones. But that's a whole other ball of wax.

BTW - an article in the same vein: Internet Honeymoon Is Over
posted by igloo at 2:46 PM on March 20, 2001


As to your side question: I read the Times via the no-registration backdoor, and I have a Slashdot cookie that lets me turn off all the sidebars and all but one banner ad. I don't think I'd read either one if I had to pay to avoid being buried in big Flash ads.

Ironminds has never run anything I was glad to read. For that matter, the only good thing at Salon now is Greil Marcus, and Metafilter's signal/noise is < 1. Maybe I'll just stop reading Web content and finish building my kitchen! OK, start building my kitchen. Oh, all right, watch more TV.
posted by nicwolff at 2:46 PM on March 20, 2001


I think $30/year is too much. my subscription to harpers is only $16/year (of course, it comes with ads).

except for the actual figure, I think they're on the right track.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 2:46 PM on March 20, 2001


I would pay a penny per article for ad-free Salon content. But that doesn't really add up to $30/year.

Micropayments! Micropayments! Micropayments!

Not that there's a good infrastructure for charging penny-level fees. If I had to pay a penny per post to MeFi, I might be a bit more sure it was a worthwhile post. But I would still post. And Matt would make a few bucks a day if posting remained at its current level.
posted by daveadams at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2001


I think the only sites I'd pay for are sites like Metafilter - Small, focused, homegrown labors of love. It wouldn't bother me to see the news sites go away since I prefer my news magazines to printed.

I'd miss portals (Excite, Yahoo) a bit more since I use those for maps and weather. But I certainly wouldn't pay for that.

"Starting next month, for a $30 annual subscription, we will begin offering readers a special service...."

$30!!!! What? So they think that the bonus content alone is worth $30 per year? That seems steep. I agree that someone has to pay the bills, but if this is the amount they need to keep things running then they're in trouble.

The subscription model will only work if it becomes common for all the larger sites. But consumers aren't going to shell out $30 each for their favorite sites.

"We would like to think that Salon has also become an essential daily destination for many readers."

Delusions of grandeur. It's free. People like free stuff. It's not essential.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:54 PM on March 20, 2001


daveadams: That's a thought! Since the real MetaFilter product is the thrill of posting, charge for that. I'd pay a couple of dollars to post a link here, and maybe fifty cents to post a comment. (Even this one!)

It'd certainly cut down on the trolling in the political threads!
posted by nicwolff at 2:58 PM on March 20, 2001


Salon started using pop ups a while ago and I wrote to them about how annoying I thought they were. Kind of like me waving my hand in front of your face at random times while you read a book. Salon's idea of charging for a super-site, but re-purposing much of that content for another free one is good. That's good advertising that will induce many hooked readers to join for curiousity's sake.

As far as the new banner ads go. That's a pitch to the advertisers. Maybe it will work - or maybe it will really annoy Salon's users and drive them away.

Side Answer: I'd pay for MeFi
posted by xammerboy at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2001


Salon has been around long enough to win people over to their content, sure, but . . . man . . . not to make like an echo chamber in here, but $30 is steeeeeep.

Although I might be tempted to pay them thirty bucks not to print Horowitz or Paglia.

You bet I'd pay for MeFi.
posted by Skot at 3:03 PM on March 20, 2001


$30 a year is steep, but that's only $2.50 a month. I guess it's more trouble to keep recharging people $2.50 a month than to make one big charge.

I remember when Salon first started, didn't they offer subscriptions that seemed like quasi-donations, and in return for $20 or so, you got a free t-shirt or umbrella?
posted by mathowie at 3:03 PM on March 20, 2001


The pricing is steep at $30. I would not mind paying, but that is more than some weekly magazines subscriptions that pay postage and printing cost before they get to me.

Personally I would pay $5 to $8 for an add-free site. Unlike print magazines there is little added cost for each additional viewer/reader.

I would not be too surprised to find that paper magazines have their ad viewed and followed up on with a similar rate as online. Online services gives us better feed back as to what readers actually do.
posted by vanderwal at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2001


I will pay the $30 just to see how the program goes. I think it would be a shame to loose Salon altogether or see it sold to MSN so they can finally improve Slate. I don't know that I would pay for MeFi, it would have to come close to matching what you get for an account at the Well before I could subscribe.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 3:26 PM on March 20, 2001


I read Salon almost exclusively through AvantGo - as such, I've never really had to deal with banner ads.

Unfortunately, I have noticed that the quality of the publication has gone down dramatically over the past 6 months or so. It's sad, really.

Anyhow, I'd pay $30 a year for Salon, provided it's "delivered" to my Palm, ad free.

As for the side topic, I don't think I would pay for MeFi (as much as I like it). To me, it's all about the free exchange of information and opinions. A fee, even if it is a small one, seems to go against this notion.
posted by aladfar at 3:28 PM on March 20, 2001


I think you're thinking of Slate, Matt - occasionally you still see some poor fool with the umbrella...Salon started as a free weekly - then went daily, then tried memberships, etc. Slate also started as free, with the stated goal of converting to subscription, then converted, lost all their readership, then went back free again. Michael Kinsley's writing on the subscription challenge is most amusing...
posted by judith at 3:31 PM on March 20, 2001


Someone mentioned Harper's on here, specifically that a subscription to the mag is $16. Shop around and you can get it for $12. Thirty dollars for Salon, which isn't half as enlightening even given daily publication, is ridiculous. (Difference: About 30,000 Salon sex articles would've been presented as absurdist humor in Harper's, probably as "readings" from another planet, the Planet of the Inane, Bitter and/or Raving Obsessed People You Hope to Never Meet. Or something like that.)
posted by raysmj at 3:35 PM on March 20, 2001


I admit I wouldn't pay for Salon--they ceased to interest me a few months ago. But if it were still worth reading, why is $30/year steep for daily content? That's certainly comparable to a print magazine, and those are only published monthly.

And yes, I'd pay for MeFi. If someone gives me something I love, then I'm happy to pay.
posted by frykitty at 3:43 PM on March 20, 2001


$30/year is bad only when positioned as thirty dollars a year. The $2.95/mo figure Matt mentions is probably more easily digested; after all, people on AOL are paying $263.40/year for arguably crappy Internet access. And I'm paying $8280/year for rent.

I'd better stop.

For some reason I just can't picture these online mags coming down to something like $7 or $8 per year. The print analogy is somewhat inappropriate, as print magazines are usually a) backed by big publishing companies and b) have a fairly large circulation size. It would be nice to be at that level but I think we're still a few years off.

I would also pay for MeFi, but no more than $8280/year - that's where I draw the line.
posted by hijinx at 3:58 PM on March 20, 2001


I'd pay for MeFi. I'd expect access to nytimes.com to be included in my print subscription. (I'd be angry if I was expected to pay for both.)
posted by mrbula at 4:06 PM on March 20, 2001


For what it's worth, even though I also run a community website (which comes nowhere near the popularity of this one), I would gladly pay a voluntary donation for the care and upkeep of MetaFilter ... and I have ... I don't think I'd be willing to cough up a mandatory subscription fee.

I guess it's OK if I'm doing it of my own volition... kinda like paying for public tv or radio (which I also do)... maybe it's the hippy in me. Anything else seems like paying taxes.
posted by crunchland at 4:16 PM on March 20, 2001


I love Metafilter. I visit probably half a dozen to a dozen times a day, and have been doing so for what must be around a year now. And there's no way I'd pay for it. Metafilter is fun because it's free, and part of the reason it's free is that there's no charge to use it. Take that away and you'd kill it - staid, boring ghost town, here we come.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:16 PM on March 20, 2001


I think thought about online advertising has to move from click-through to branding (yes, I saw the Hellman's ad - but I don't want to go to Hellmans.com - see your ad worked) and changing voluntary payment/subscription/tipping to say "subscription".

Yeah, it's somewhat semantics - but when I say subscription it feels like I bought something, as opposed to tossing some quarters in a cup.

-Oliver
posted by owillis at 4:36 PM on March 20, 2001


The print analogy is somewhat inappropriate, as print magazines are usually a) backed by big publishing companies and b) have a fairly large circulation size.

How does that shake out when you factor in overhead or production costs? Technically, it's cheaper to run a on-line magazine than a print one what with paper costs and all, but my experience running an on-line magazine involved about 1/billionth of the subscriber base than Salon so I just don't know. Even at $2.50/ month it seems pricey to me.

I thought the free to read/ pay to post idea for MeFi sounded really good until I realized that might shut out anybody without a credit card, or checking account, or somebody who just can't spare the money. I think doing that might shut out certain views that lend the good posts here a sense of balance.

Of course, I have no solution.
posted by jennyb at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2001


I would gladly pay a voluntary donation for the care and upkeep of MetaFilter ... and I have ... I don't think I'd be willing to cough up a mandatory subscription fee.

No mandatory. I never said mandatory. Imagine every bonus feature that Jason mentioned a while back: kill files, favorite posters, saving watched threads to special place, having a "my" space to portalize as you see fit, sorting the site according to your favorite authors, daily digest email written and prepared by me, etc, etc, etc.

A "free" metafilter would be as is, I'm only exploring the options. All the programming time and work involved, not to mention the extra server resources deep collaborative filtering queries require would be offset by the subscriptions. The people that pay would get to use them. Nothing would be mandatory or change the way regular metafilter behaves, and I'm not saying I'm working day and night on this, just gauging what people might want from the site. I'd never take away posting rights to anyone if they didn't pay.
posted by mathowie at 4:47 PM on March 20, 2001


Metafilter is fun because it's free, and part of the reason it's free is that there's no charge to use it

Remember kids, things that happen in the future will affect you and I...in the future!
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:24 PM on March 20, 2001


What if paying users got a gold star next to their names like the posters on The Fray on Slate do? The more you pay, the brighter your star.
posted by anildash at 5:41 PM on March 20, 2001


Yeah, and the richest among us can be the most important, just like real life! ;)
posted by kindall at 6:09 PM on March 20, 2001


daveadams: "Micropayments! Micropayments! Micropayments!"

No no no!

matthowie: No mandatory. I never said mandatory. Imagine every bonus feature that Jason mentioned a while back: kill files, favorite posters, saving watched threads to special place [...]

Yes. Hell yes. Value-added services at a small flat rate are exactly what I've been waiting for, and I was elated to hear that Salon was going this route.

$30/year is more than a lot of sites could get away with, but I think Salon, as a trailblazer in this sort of nanopricing, would have had a harder time being taken seriously at a lower price point. If the model catches on, the subscription rate for sites without Salon's infrastructure can fall.
posted by bumppo at 6:27 PM on March 20, 2001


Fooey on you, MrBaliHai, for failing to comprehend my wordplay... "free" means more than "no cost". :-)
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:31 PM on March 20, 2001


Well, I don't have any money. So I can't pay. If the reason that a site is interesting is the social interaction shouldn't the people who provide it get paid? Given that I'm providing content to the site (admitedly not much) should I get money for it?
posted by davidgentle at 6:48 PM on March 20, 2001


One thing to remember when comparing real magazines (yes, that "real" is put there instead of "paper" just to annoy people hah) to Salon's offer: print magazines still contain ads, and those ads are exactly why the magazines are cheap.

Here is what I consider a better analogy: Imagine your favorite print magazine said "listen, all our advertisers bailed. We can either go out of business or we can charge you a few bucks extra per month to make up for the true cost of printing a magazine". That's what Salon is doing essentially. It may not be the greatest plan in the world, it may not work, but it is obviously the only possible thing Salon can still do to make any money.
posted by beefula at 6:52 PM on March 20, 2001


If the reason that a site is interesting is the social interaction shouldn't the people who provide it get paid?

Sure, if reading the site wasn't free.
posted by mathowie at 7:08 PM on March 20, 2001


A friend who works for the leading UK Mac magazine said that if there were no advertisers, it would be priced at £20 a copy. Reality bites.

Salon has one big problem: it could possibly have salvaged itself through "dot-orging": following Blogger/MeFi/PBS in asking for funds from a grateful user base. But it's a publically traded company, so that's a non-starter. In short, it's screwed, because it's only a matter of time before it can't afford to pay its top writers the inflated fees they expect (after all, they're writing for Salon, aren't they?) and it reverts to the rag-tag set of journalistic outcasts it started life as.

But heh, quite a ride, yes?
posted by holgate at 7:10 PM on March 20, 2001


Actually, another chance to bring up Harper's -- not that I'm a small publication groupie or anything. The relevance is, Harper's is published by a foundation. (Here's its totally free and hysterically funny weekly review.) It's the only way it survived massive changes in the magazine industry. I would think running a general interest publication on the Internet, daily, would be even harder, even if aimed at an upscale audience. Not like all people with cash, or money they believe they can waste, think the same.

And Salon, which started out and seemed for so long to have gigantic promise, gives its readers too much they can find elsewhere? Election 2000 articles bitching about Al Gore's personality and authenticity? A Greil Marcus piece praising Eminem and trashing Shelby Lynne for showing too much cleavage at the Grammys? Pluuuueeeze!!!! I still love the letters section, the occasional odd or ignored angle on big news and issues, but they're increasingly too insular, trendy and acidic for my tastes.
posted by raysmj at 7:48 PM on March 20, 2001


If I recall correctly, neither Ms. nor Consumer Reports (both published by non-profit organizations) publish retail advertising. Ms. goes for $28 a year; Consumer Reports goes for at least that much and they charge an additional $25 or so for complete access to their website.
posted by bradlands at 8:07 PM on March 20, 2001


If often thought why net entertainment companies (MP3.com, Shockwave - this means you) didn't adopt the model of giving the community a portion of their profits. If you have a choice between debuting your cool little digi-movie/animation/song on one site or another, wouldn't you be more likely to post it on a site where you benefit?

It's something I'd like to work on.
posted by owillis at 8:11 PM on March 20, 2001


Ms. and Consumer reports, unlike Salon, are special interest publications. Subscribers also have at least a very good idea as to what they will be getting every month -- a very specific type of information. This is the same reason that the Wall Street Journal charges for content (Dow Jones having had a bit of experience in this electronic area already), while the New York Times does not. The WSJ, however, puts its editorial page up for free - actually, Opinion Journal is an expanded edition of the editorial page.
posted by raysmj at 8:15 PM on March 20, 2001


Judith said I think you're thinking of Slate, Matt - occasionally you still see some poor fool with the umbrella...
Are you still there? I have a Slate umbrella, what's wrong with it? Damn, I always show up too late and hopelessly out of fashion.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:45 AM on March 21, 2001


The only things that people will pay for online in appreciable numbers are financial information and porn. Attempting to charge for anything else is a deathwish.

The thing I really don't understand about this is why Salon thinks this isn't going to infuriate their advertisers. The people most willing to shell out the $30/yr are the affluent ones the advertisers are most trying to reach in the first place. It's as if Salon really believes they're going to make enough off of these optional subscriptions to turn a profit. And that's not going to happen, especially since the added content is going to appeal to only one side of the spectrum:

Additional content available only to subscribers, including a "Bush Watch" tracking the Bush administration and other features focused on progressive issues like the environment, gun control and reproductive rights.

We can argue about why till we're blue in the face, but whatever the reason, for-profit liberal political sites/publications/radio shows/what have you just don't make money. There aren't enough people willing to support them.

It would be very risky to make a pay MeFi, even if it were only for bonus features. You can't charge for a product that is largely composed of the unpaid work of the people you're trying to charge. The likely outcome is that someone would try to hack together his own MeFiesque site and the population base would split. (No, the Well doesn't count. It has never made any real profit even during the best of times, and has often lost money. And that was when it was about the only game in town.)
posted by aaron at 12:50 AM on March 21, 2001



Aaron, regarding "You can't charge for a product that is largely composed of the unpaid work of the people you're trying to charge"... What if I put together a set of MeFi Pro tools, on my own, and charged people for them? A small fee to make the management of your MeFi experience that much more pleasurable. If it were cheap and easy enough, do you still think no one would pay?

And if you (or these theoretical somebodies) would pay for those services, why wouldn't they just as soon pay Matt, who does all the heavy lifting around here already? Seems illogical to me. The direct analogy is something like RedHat, although I think they're a bad example business-wise, the model works: give away the product, charge for the related services.
posted by anildash at 1:42 AM on March 21, 2001


The only things that people will pay for online in appreciable numbers are financial information and porn.

And with that said, PornFilter is one step closer to reality.
posted by mathowie at 3:24 AM on March 21, 2001


"You can't charge for a product that is largely composed of the unpaid work of the people you're trying to charge"

If I'm not mistaken, the content would still be free, but you'd pay a fee for extra functionality, something which Matt creates all on his own and which he is free (as far as I'm concerned) to charge whatever he likes for.
posted by Markb at 4:30 AM on March 21, 2001


What if I put together a set of MeFi Pro tools, on my own, and charged people for them?

Then I think Matt should try to kick your ass for trying to make money off of someone else's creation, and code in a way to break every piece of "MeFi Pro."

And even if Matt did it himself: I'm not making a moral judgement here. I'm just hypothesizing as to how the I think the user base - not all your base, but enough of it - would react. I don't believe no one would pay, but I'm having trouble beliving enough users would to make it worth his trouble, especially given the other grumblings it would introduce amongst those who were annoyed by the whole concept.

And RedHat is an apt comparison, IMHO; people aren't willing to pay them for their "value-added product" when 95% of what they're selling is free in the first place. MeFi is a public service, more or less, and as such it would probably benefit most from taking the public radio approach to funding: Just ask for donations. Most people will give a little that way without any of them ever having to wrestle with that whole "should I have to be paying" question in the first place. An occasional bumping up of the Amazon donation link on the front page will probably make Matt more $ than anything he might get by going to all the trouble of a "MeFi Pro."
posted by aaron at 6:00 AM on March 21, 2001



People are forgetting that it's called Public Broadcasting because it is funded by the public through their tax dollars. I think that almost 90% of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's funding is provided by the federal government. Makes one wonder what all those endless fund drives are about.

Kinsley's joke about porn and financial information being the only things people are willing to pay for online is also being proved wrong over time.... witness the massive swapping of AdultID numbers and the complete failure of TheStreet.com.
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 6:54 AM on March 21, 2001


Realize that if Public Broadcasting wasn't automatically siphoning money from American taxpayers, it would probably die.

I think porn sites have been able to still turn a profit - even with the rampant piracy in their industry. Especially now, they're the industry to look for for your biz models...
posted by owillis at 7:12 AM on March 21, 2001


Chairman, CPB may be 90% funded by the federal government, but federal funds provide no more than 15-18% of expenditures of public broadcasting nationwide. The money to CPB goes toward program production; most stations have to raise money from subscribers to afford high-quality programming. If you go from a large urban area to a PBS/NPR station out in the boonies, you will find a huge differentiation in things like the amount of produced local content or nationally syndicated programming.

Damn, I hate that attitude. So taxpayer contributions are limited, but at the same time you think it's paying the whole way, so you criticize the FUND DRIVES? Think for two freaking seconds. And most of those contributors get a decent amount of added value for their money: gift freebies, programming guides, catalogs. WBEZ radio in Chicago has moved to "online fund drive" so they hardly break into programming at all, and WTTW television is doing almost as well.
posted by dhartung at 7:41 AM on March 21, 2001


dhartung, it takes less than two freaking seconds of thought to understand that the combined income coming from tax-based sources is significant, certainly providing more than enough money to pay for core programming, even in the boonies. You have to think hard about why it is called Public Broadcasting.
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 9:10 AM on March 21, 2001


People pay to get a gold star in the Fray? How much does that cost?
posted by Brilliantcrank at 9:30 AM on March 21, 2001


I remember when Salon first started, didn't they offer subscriptions that seemed like quasi-donations, and in return for $20 or so, you got a free t-shirt or umbrella?

Yep. And I subscribed, and got nothing out of it for the next two years except the t-shirt and some weird CD. Well, I guess that's not completely true. I also got invited to—and attended—one of their Politics2000 events where Michael Feldman did a terrible job as moderator while the panelists spoke ad nauseam. And Arianna was simply pitching her book. But at least I got her to autograph it.

What were we talking about? ;)
posted by terrapin at 9:36 AM on March 21, 2001


the complete failure of TheStreet.com.

which was a classic case of over-reach, fuelled in part by Jim Cramer's ego. People will pay for tipsheets, expert analysis, specialist financial whatever, just as they'll pay for real-time quotes. I just stumped up $50 for a year of Bill Fleckenstein's "Market Rap" on Grant's Investor, having seen him call the tech downturn pretty well over the past couple of years. And I don't even own any shares.
posted by holgate at 9:38 AM on March 21, 2001


I don't think I'd pay $30 a year to read Salon. Unless of course they sent me an umbrella AND a pair of handsome galoshes. Or maybe if they included a nice slab of bacon.

With regard to the ads in print magazines, from what I can tell, some people buy magazines specifically for the ads. Vogue for example, which usually weighs in at around 15 lbs, has nothing but ads. And, as an added premium bonus feature, many of the ads feature partially nude fashion models. I've always thought that maybe the trick here is to make web advertising cool and interesting; to make it so that perhaps one day people will want to visit a site (primarily) to see the ads or to watch the commercials. It's sort of amazing to me that an industry as sophisticated (?) as advertising is hasn't come up with any good solutions on this front yet. I'm thinking specifically about something like the old Levi's site used to offer. Of course, I never bought any Levi's clothing while I was messing around on their site, but still, their approach to the web gave me a favorable impression of their company and encouraged me to check back in once in a while.

But like I said, I'm mainly in it for the promise of galoshes and partial nudity.
posted by metascene at 10:29 AM on March 21, 2001


People are forgetting that it's called Public Broadcasting because it is funded by the public through their tax dollars.

Well, then, it should be called Government Broadcasting. The idea that the public still has any ownership of something they don't have any real choice about paying for is kind of a stretch...

No, it's called public broadcasting because it's funded by the public...
posted by kindall at 10:38 AM on March 21, 2001


holgate: thanks for the biggest laugh of the day. The Fleckelstein column is fantabulous, and written in such an unpretentious, angry/passionate way -- like a big warning message, only held by a guy who feels nobody listens to him, or didn't for too long -- that if I had $50 to throw around, I'd pay for without hesitation. His "market rap" also sometimes doubles as a seeming commentary on American society and culture as a whole. This is the big difference. You can't get any other column about financial matters out there that's so interesting and driven, purposeful and immediately distinctive.

And therein lies the problem with the Salon ad-free subscription idea. It seems to me to have long since lost any real seeming sense of purpose. What's it thing, so to speak? It's all over the place. Can you say what that certain something, its raison d'etre, is in less than two paragraphs, in a way that would make sense to any reader?
posted by raysmj at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2001


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