salon starts charging for "staff-written copy."
October 1, 2001 7:27 PM   Subscribe

salon starts charging for "staff-written copy." I guess I should start saving anything I want from the archives now.
posted by aflakete (20 comments total)
There is an italic html tag in the title of that article. Anyone's browser displaying the word Salon in italics?
posted by skallas at 7:33 PM on October 1, 2001

Mine is (Opera).
posted by aflakete at 7:38 PM on October 1, 2001

Sad day. I remember the time when Salon was a really excellent Web-based magazine. It's been at least a year (probably more -- when'd they stop doing album reviews, again?) since it was worth reading on a more than monthly basis, however...

Don't sign me up.
posted by Marquis at 7:51 PM on October 1, 2001

Maybe it will work as well for them as it did for Slate?
posted by rushmc at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2001

"Quick, close the gates! Nevermind that the castle is falling apart!"
posted by owillis at 7:57 PM on October 1, 2001

I paid them that $30 months ago, for all the years of great writing. It's a bit much to pay for all at once, but if you think about it terms of newspaper costs, I'm sure at 25 cents an issue, I've read more than $30 worth.
posted by mathowie at 8:05 PM on October 1, 2001

I've been reading Salon for a few years, and subscribed to their "Premium" site last week for thirty bucks, cuz some of the people I like to read (like ex?-John Rodgers devotee Huffington and SDS-obsessed Horowitz - and a peacenik or two) were upgraded to pay-per-view.

Now, I've been up in the mountains for a few days and don't know exactly what this means for Salon readers, but, as a recent subscriber, I have the only two views I could possibly have.

One: Good! It's a great net-zine; it deserves $ support.

Two: Jeez. I hope I didn't throw away thirty bucks on a doomed enterprise.

I wish 'em luck. Independent sometime zines like freezerbox etc. are great, but to get daily intelligent updates from a netmag like Salon for a year is worth a couple of hours of work (I'm a teacher) any day.
posted by kozad at 8:57 PM on October 1, 2001

Hmmm. I paid the other week too, for much the same reasons as mat.

Rationally, I spend far more than $30 over a year for cable, newspapers, magazines, ... a little chunk for Salon seems entirely justified when compared to my other expenditure.

Thinking back, I'm not sure that it has got worse. It doesn't seem as exciting as it did a couple of years ago, but then we're used to Salon now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:03 PM on October 1, 2001

Salon's Latest Sleazy Trick: Back on Sept 26, Salon published an article entitled Islam's Flawed Spokesmen. There was a response sent in by the subject(s) of the article. Sorry, I don't know the details, because Salon hid the letter in the pay section of the web site. And now, after a search, I cannot find the letter at all.

Talbot, that's just lame. Honest journalism requires that responses be published just as prominently as the original article. Hiding criticism where nobody can see it may allow you to claim it was published, but it's a dishonest deception.
posted by chipr at 9:24 PM on October 1, 2001

So long as they don't put the comics on paying, I don't care what they do. Only place I can find story minute and the K one, which I can't remember how to spell right now.
posted by stoneegg21 at 9:30 PM on October 1, 2001

Didn't Talbot write a recent letter from the editor saying that subscriptions had helped and they were doing OK?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 PM on October 1, 2001

They are so phucked it isn't even funny any more. They've just guaranteed nobody is going to buy any ads on their site any more, not unless the rates are cut about 75-90%. If you have a subscription, you don't have to view any ads, and if you don't have a subscription, you're not going to go there any more because the few things you want to read aren't available any more, and thus you won't be viewing any ads.

They've only signed up about 20,000 subscribers. That's only $600,000, not nearly enough to seriously cut into their burn rate. Even the couple of million invested in them recently is considered by many to be "vulture capital," because it won't help them survive much past Christmas.

Didn't Talbot write a recent letter from the editor saying that subscriptions had helped and they were doing OK?

He did, but no financial analyst believes him. Do a search; we've covered this several times in the last few months, and there are lots of links to analyses on other sites explainly why they just don't have the cash to survive long-term.
posted by aaron at 10:32 PM on October 1, 2001

Talbot's explanation of the new policy is interesting. Salon's news and politics coverage has been good, and I am considering ponying up the $30, even though I'm unemployed and will probably be on life support for a while.

I think it's the right move for them. They have a compelling product, and they have to be aggressive. Is anyone else here thinking about getting Salon Premium now?
posted by mattpfeff at 11:01 PM on October 1, 2001

This is how I read this (and last week's) panhandling from Salon: "Hey, 6000 people are dead - seems like a good time to try and siphon a couple extra subscribers from our slightly increased traffic, never mind that most of the news here is really being broken by CNN/ABC/MSNBC etc. We had a decent magazine once, but stupidly decided to become a publically traded 'media company'. These subscriptions will soften the blow of impending bankruptcy."
posted by owillis at 11:22 PM on October 1, 2001

Will they give refunds when they go out of business?
posted by timothompson at 12:29 AM on October 2, 2001

I'm not a regular reader of Salon but one thing struck me in the article - they said they had paid for one correspondent to go out to the Middle East. One? I wonder how many journalists papers like The Times and The Telegraph have out there (sorry, don't know much about US press) both on staff and freelance.

Internet enterprises don't have the resources to match their paper rivals. I think of all the millions of supplements you get with papers on a daily basis and the fact you have to carry the Saturday Guardian and Sunday Times home in a wheelbarrow. And they cost about £1. I know it's more over a period of time but people don't think like that.

Then there's the fact you're used to browsing between several sites. You don't go into a newsagents and pick out the articles you want from different papers then take them home. That's what you're doing on the net. People aren't going to pay every time. I remember the Web site I used to work on talking about charging for achived back issues. As IF.
posted by Summer at 2:26 AM on October 2, 2001

Salon's just charging for news and politics articles, not the whole site.

stoneegg21: That's "The K Chronicles," cartoonist Keith Knight's pride and his readers' joy.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 2:45 AM on October 2, 2001

So how come The Onion doesn't have all these problems? Like Owillis says above, Salon chased the IPO bux and got caught like some many others.

The onion probably makes a little money from ads, but I suspect ther eason they moved to NYC is so their writers could moonlight for The Daily Show etc.

besides, imagine how much money'd be left over from the 60+ mil if they didn't have to pay the high office rents of San Francisco???

They didn't lose that kind of cash in the last week, month or year. They just finally realized they were talented but spoiled brats about to get their trust fund cut off. Aaron's right, they stand no chance with this approach. I find myself reading them less and less, not intentionally, just because it seems in so many ways that they have jumped the shark...
posted by BentPenguin at 9:24 AM on October 2, 2001

stoneegg21: you can also keep up with Carol Lay's "Story Minute" on her website at

I guess what irks me is the dying-by-degrees feeling, as though they have resigned themselves to ultimate doom but want to make sure we are all noticing just what a great thing it is we're losing.

They should have just made the whole thing a premium service at the get-go. I wasn't interested in $30 when all I would get was some titty pictures, but I would pay it for the whole site.
posted by briank at 10:18 AM on October 2, 2001

To me, Salon does indeedy sound like a reasonable deal at $30.

However that's American. Although the majority of their subscriptions would go to Americans, people from other countries (mostly) have to pay more. For me, it works out to $60. It's still seems like a good deal for good journalism, however some of Salon's recent hirings have been less than auspicious, while their losses in that department have been great.

Can someone who has the subscription please answer this question for me - Does Salon still provide those "snappy reality tv reviews" that they advertised widely when they first implemented their subscription service? Those reviews (particularly of the American BB 1, which I happily read without seeing the show proper) were cool. But I haven't seen them mentioned lately.
posted by lucien at 11:23 PM on October 2, 2001

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