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The Media

Salon in Dire Straits 502

An anonymous reader submits this well-linked blurb: "It appears the end may be near for Salon Media Group. Their auditors doubt the company can stay in business for very much longer. Despite recently reaching nearly 40,000 subscribers, they haven't been able to make up for lost ad revenue in a down market. As a result, they've accumulated a deficit of about $75 million. Their best known asset, besides Salon.com, may be The Well, one of the earliest and most influential online communities. I hope that it can survive if Salon does not."
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Salon in Dire Straits

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  • by Reeses ( 5069 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @09:56PM (#3776067)
    Salon could do a _print_ magazine.

    Have their online content lag behind the print for a month, and sell the magazine. Advertisers are comfortable with print. They know the way print works.

    Then you just have to get the info out before it gets stale. Revolutionise the printing process so it only has a one month lead time instead of a three.... hmmm....

    Oh yeah, I forgot, it's called "Wired". Oops.
    • The magazine business has about a six-month lead time for most articles. While the online press is able to respond quite quickly, the in-depth reportage available in better magazines is often decided up to a year in advance.

      This allows magazines time to do better research on the issues being covered within a calculable budget.
    • Not (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 ( 162816 )
      Advertisers are comfortable with established print magazines. If Salon went to a dead-tree distro model, they'd be just another new publication competing for ad dollars and shelf space. The failure rate for new print magazines is pretty horendous.
  • I'll miss Salon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eyegor ( 148503 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @09:59PM (#3776085)
    It's no /. and even though it's generally slanted for the left-thinking crowd, I'll miss Salon if it goes belly up.

    They've had some very insightful articles and interesting columnists (I really miss reading Camille Paglia). The handwriting was on the wall when they adopted the subscription model. Most people aren't willing or even able to pay for content.
  • by Ekim ( 131360 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @09:59PM (#3776089)
    A site like Salon, as excellent as it is/was, simply cannot make it by charging for content. Other then porn, content isn't something people will pay for on the web, especially what are basically magazine articles.

    If Salon was serious about surviving, it should have canned it expensive SF offices and become basically a virtual company. Web space is cheap, and writer can live anywhere.
    Too bad they couldn't see the obvious.
    • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:09PM (#3776151)
      If Salon was serious about surviving, it should have canned it expensive SF offices and become basically a virtual company. Web space is cheap, and writer can live anywhere.

      Not necesarily. If they were writing solely about pieces of hardware (e.g. Tom's Hardware) or had other people submit article to them (e.g. Slashdot), then yes, the company could be anywhere.

      Salon, however, often writes about social trends and what's happening in society; they write about people. In order to do that coherently and effectively, the writers have to be where the people are. One cannot write a story about what people in the big city think while living in Eye Socket, Montana. Yes, land is cheap there, but only because nobody else wants it. For some businesses, living in an expensive city is a necessary expense.
      • Actually you can... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sterno ( 16320 )
        While Eye Socket, Montana might be a little extreme, the fact of the matter is that their journalism could have been done in many places other than SF. I mean, do you think Ariana Huffington lives in San Francisco? If they want to find out about life in the big city, they pay some freelance writer in the big city to tell them about it.

        I think they could have done qutie well journalistically had they lived in any of a number of other largish cities that weren't nearly so pricey.
    • Other then porn, content isn't something people will pay for on the web, especially what are basically magazine articles.

      I disagree. I think people are not willing to pay the subscription on a regular basis in seamingly large amounts (even $5 a month per site is too much). But if it was a few cents here and there for an article or for a page of posts, people would be much more willing to pay. We need micropayments [scottmccloud.com], and we need them bad. What I don't understand is why they still haven't appeared and spread, the market for them should be huge. The only explanation [useit.com] for it that I've seen makes me sad...
    • content isn't something people will pay for on the web

      This is a myth. Right along with "people are basically stupid" and "piracy is keeping content from being profitable on-line."

      There is a 100% chance that if a large record company put up a comprehensive, indexed database of downloadable high-quality .mp3s of their entire music library complete with lyrics and background information on the artists connected to a massive high-capacity backbone, people would subscribe by the hundreds of thousands, and quite probably the millions.

      That's content, and people would pay for it if it were available. People will pay for other content too.
      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        I donated $5 to SpaceDaily [spacedaily.com] for magazine articles, and i've donated to several webcomics. People tend to get upset when you tell them that they have to pay X amount or you won't be able to view it, while they're much more open about giving you some non-exact amount of money after they've already looked at the media and decided they like it. Whether or not the larger number of smaller contributions can counter a smaller number of high cost subscriptions, i have no idea.
    • They made a big deal out of the risque material, but it was pretty lame.
    • by sinserve ( 455889 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:26AM (#3776860)
      DON'T pay for pron. I am in the "industry" and material is everywhere. Movies of every kind,
      even full length high res movies. Pictures are even more, any fetish you have and there millions
      of free galleries out there. Do you have a fetish for pissing pregnant asian women, in latex
      and sunglasses? no problem, it is out there.

      Search for "TGP" sites and you will find them, they are mushrooming everywhere. The usual "pay for content" business model doesn't cut it for pron sites anymore.
      You will get to see excellent ad free material, your personal info will not be tracked,
      there will no cookies of javascript hell, and STILL, the provider will make money.

      There is no catch to it either, it is that simple (Ok, there is catch, but *YOU* have nothing
      to do with it and it doesn't affect you in anyway.)

      Successful sex entertainment sites no longer solely depend on digital media. There is a new
      cash cow going on, and to milk it fully, we first need to exhaust all other material. The
      serious businessman will know what I am talking about.

      • Hello - web-cluebie! Everybody knows if you want to drink from the firehose of porn, you go to USENET alt.binaries.erotica newsgroups. If you want your credit card (Ha! who uses his own credit card to subscribe to porn sites?) repeatedly charged even after "cancelling", and newsgroups are "too hard", then sure, subscribe to a pay site.
      • by foobar104 ( 206452 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @10:48AM (#3779518) Journal
        The three sure-fire ways to get your comment moderated as "insightful."

        1. Criticize Microsoft in a way that's slightly different from the way everybody else is criticizing them today.

        2. Tell the story-- truthful or otherwise-- of how you replaced some proprietary and expensive computer system with one based on Linux.

        3. Give moderately detailed instructions on how to find good pr0n.
  • I have spent many hours reading Salon. It's one of the sites I check every day. Even after they moved most of their content to the premium service there were enough interesting articles left in the free section to make it worth skimming. Unfortunately if they do go under, the only really interesting news/opinion webzine left will be Slate.

    I wanted to support them, and thought about subscribing. But I've always had strong concerns about their financials, and was worried that after I forked over my 30 dollars that they'd go under. This is one of the reasons I'm reluctant to pony up money for any web site. There's no guarantee that even after I subscribe that the site will still be there for the length of my subscription. I know it's not much money, but still if I pay for a year, I want to know that the site will still be there at the end of that year.

    Of course I don't know why anyone bought the stock. It was obvious that they had no real strategy for turning a profit. As a business Salon is a disaster. They put out the equivalent of a weekly magazine on a daily basis. It's a shame that quality content just isn't enough.

  • by robkill ( 259732 )
    You can't depend on the Slashdot effect to support a website. Guess the Salon Slashbox will soon be history. Their articles on the RIAA and the radio industry consolidation were excellent, as well as the articles by Simson Garfinkel. It's a shame to see it go.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:10PM (#3776154) Homepage Journal
    Well, okay, not in specialized niches -- there's nothing from OM that compares to /. for example. But in general journalism, Salon was the last of the great online experiments. Remember Slate (pre-M$)? Remember Feed? Those two, and Salon, were my holy trinity of news, once upon a time.

    And it wasn't that "pure-play" online, ad-supported journalism was doomed from the start. It wasn't. But Old Media moved into the online space just agressively enough to take eyeballs away from New Media sites like Salon, and (I'm still convinced) began a quiet but effective FUD campaign to convince advertisers that online advertising doesn't work. There's no real reason to believe that online advertising is ineffective, but we heard so much about "low click-through" and the like (and how exactly do you measure click-through for a TV commercial, is the obvious response no one gave) that advertisers got scared into going back to the tried'n'true.

    Goddamn it.
    • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:24PM (#3776247) Homepage
      Remember Slate (pre-M$)?

      Err no, Slate was originally formed by Microsoft and Gates appointed Michael Kinsley as the first editor. The Liberal bent of Slate is pretty much because Gate was fed up reading the right wing crap ost of the 'liberal media' pump out.

      Given Gate's history of supporting marajuana ballot measures Slate is probably a bit right wing for him.

      I doubt Salon will go entirely, the company might fold but it is the type of title that a lot of people would have an interest in keeping going just to piss of the GOP. Heck, Arianna Huffington could probably buy it out of small change...

    • Liberal slant and all, Salon is still the last independent online news site. I always found stories there that somehow never made it to the newswires. I have no doubt some very powerful people would very much like Salon to go out of business.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If salon.com goes belly up, how will I find out how that payola scandal is coming?

    No other outlets were covering it until salon kept making all those articles. My prediction is that this whole Clearchannel payola scandal will dissapear once salon is gone.

  • Here we go again! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peterdaly ( 123554 ) <petedaly.ix@netcom@com> on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:13PM (#3776177)
    Maybe I don't understand business as much as I think I do, but whatever happened to growing a business. All these (especially internet) business that take a boatload of cash and thy to "hatch themselves into the world" fully grown keep going bust. How does a website that only hosts articles get many millions of dollars in debt before turning a profit? It's not like they have warehouses of inventory to maintain. It's a freekin' server cluster the content management and writers. Half the people reading this could probably build the business infrastructure in a month or so.

    Marketing costs? Ok, ya got me there, but that many millions worth? How much are they paying their writers? How much Salon content couldn't they have hired english major to write at a fraction of the cost?

    I think the world needs to start going back to "building businesses", which has become a lost art. Make the model work...THEN take it to the multi-million level. Not throw in millions, then figure out a model that works.

    -Pete
    • Maybe I don't understand business as much as I think I do, but whatever happened to growing a business. All these (especially internet) business that take a boatload of cash and thy to "hatch themselves into the world" fully grown keep going bust.

      The company I work for (and helped build from the ground up) has been slowly but steadily growing for six years on the Internet. We started out by my boss maxing out a couple credit cards. Within a couple years, we were profitable. Did we then go buck wild with marketing campaigns and new ways to spend money? No, we just kept doing what we'd been doing, finding new ways to save our time using automation (and thus saving money). Our staff is still extremely small, but we have no bullshit politics in the office, and it's laid back.

      Our favorite joke leading up to 2001 was that we were making more money than Amazon.com! *

      I predict buy.com will be the next "big" internet company to go bust. As soon as I read that they were going to undercut amazon.com by 10% on all books, and do free shipping on ALL orders, I nearly fell out of my chair... shades of "Internet 1999"-style marketing tactics. It smells like desparation!

      * Of course we were talking about net income, not actual revenue, but it's a valid point. Our business model is sound and we continue to grow and lead in our niche.
  • I wonder when f*ckedcompany.com will appear on its' own site?....
    Here the Link [fuckedcompany.com].
  • Ironic (Score:3, Funny)

    by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:18PM (#3776212)
    It's ironic that a left-wing magazine would have the kind of cash flow that conservatives want for the government. Too bad, so sad.
  • by TheFrood ( 163934 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:20PM (#3776221) Homepage Journal
    Salon in Dire Straits

    from the partying-like-it's-salon1999 dept.


    You actually went with this over "from the can't-get-your-money-for-nothing dept."?

    TheFrood
  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:23PM (#3776241) Homepage
    I understand that Salon [salon.com] had some token conservatives [frontpagemag.org] writing for the site but most of the content was directed to a left of center crowd [springstreetnetworks.com]. Not only in the online world but in the broadcast world as well, left of center political discussion [democratic...ground.com] and news services [yellowtimes.org] tend to be financial failures while right wing media [newsmax.com] does quite well. The conservative discussion site, Free Republic [freerepublic.com], constantly rakes in close to $100,000 in donations when it runs its "user pledge drives". Right wing radio talk shows [rushlimbaugh.com] dominate the political airwaves. The only left wing radio I can think of is National Public Radio [npr.org] and it only stays in business because of the US Taxpayer [irs.gov]. The "fair and balanced" Fox News (accused of being rightist [fair.org]) in five short years has blown away 20+ year-old CNN (accused of being leftist [mediaresearch.org]) in ratings.

    Is there something outside the marketability of political orientation that is a factor in this difference in success? Does political orientation give a business an advantage in a Capitalistic society? Or is it that Republicans are just looser with their wallets?

    • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:42PM (#3776352) Homepage Journal
      First off, congrats on being the first person in the history of this website to use the term 'looser' correctly. Could this mark a turning point in Slashdot's history?

      Second, I think the fact that people gravitate towards the right wing and Republican media is that the typical liberal simply doesn't understand how to talk to 'the common man'. Telling the average person that they are bad for believing certain things, bad for saying certain things, bad for belonging to the wrong race, bad for being of the wrong gender, bad for simply existing and using up precious global resources while others are starving across the globe, and bad for having values that may result in the automatic judging of others doesn't endear anyone to the leftist cause.

      The Republican/Right Wing press is much more liberal in the Millian sense. (One must not look to the far Right Wing where the Neo Nazis reside, just as one must not look to the far Left Wing where Communists make their home, because these are simply aberrations of the mainstream Left and Right wings.) The Right Wing's ideology as espoused by the Right Wing media is that every man is an island and his place in society should be decided upon his skills and his contributions to society. No one is owed anything beyond the rights bestowed at birth and attempts to provide one with something necessarily entails taking something from another.

      This egalitarianism is exactly the kind of thing that most Americans believe in the core of their being. They look at racial preferences as being completely contrary to the concept of racial equality. They look at abortion as the murder of an innocent human being. They look upon lenient judges as shirkers of responsibility. And they look at those who would take from them to give to others as thieves.

      The right wing plays to these people and the message resonates, not because the right wing is crafty in forming their message but because the people who believe this ARE the right wing.
    • Right wing media functions on the same principle as infomercials.

      Their customers arent the viewers but the people pushing the message. They make their money by ensuring that certain types of messages are continously pushed at the people.

      Truly left wing media does not have that choice. There isnt some one that will make a lot of money if truly left wing agenda is pushed. So there is no one to pay for it. Sure most people will benefit. But that is the problem large groups of people have the collective action problem and cant take up media empires. Rupert Murdoch can.

      It is true that Rush dominates the radio waves, it is also true that less and less people are listening to radio. So Rush is not on every damn radio station because people really like him, but because powerful people want him there, and they want him saying the things he is saying.

      That being said there is another issue - what people call left wing media (CNN ABC, etc) is not really left wing. And if you use that definition left wing media is not doing that bad - i am sure in the nytimes they laugh at the ny post, and even after recieving hundreds of millions of dollars from a cult leader the washington times is nothing compared to the washington post (considered to be liberal for some bizare reason).

      Truly left wing media is really rare and is usually actively resisted by powerful people including "left wing" media. Thus Naom Chomsky although he sells a lot of books, and sells out every public appearence he does, will have a lot of trouble getting a column published in the "liberal" ny times.
      • That being said there is another issue - what people call left wing media (CNN ABC, etc) is not really left wing.

        You cannot be serious. Here, have a bite of my reality. I'll give you some slack on ABC. Despite Peter Jennings, most of the reporting by ABC is on target. Nightline comes to mind as a standard-bearer for quality journalism.

        But CNN, the NY Times, and the Washington Post always strafe left when facts approach. But that's not the point.

        The point is that liberal minded media sources are firmly entrenched in large urban areas and scarcely anywhere else. New York, Washington D.C, San Francisco, Chicago. Centers for liberal, urban thought. Facts and honest journalism be damned, media sources in these large cities are going to play to their audiences.

        Who cares though? There's facts and there's emotion. If you learn that ten people were shot at a bus stop today, do you really need to know how the victims' family members feel about it? Are you better off for that? Does a reporter waxing poetic at the scene add to or clarify the simple facts of the shooting?

        No.

        But this is the kind of poppycock journalism that will always play well to a feminine, apathetic audience. Dateline and 20/20 come to mind as the worst proprietors of this kind of FUD journalism. As though heartbreak and loss are undefined variables in the program of life.

    • If you look at the other posts, you'll see Salon had 70 million in funding they blew. That's A LOT more than 100k raised by Free Republic. 700 times more. And they had/have ad and subscription revenues. If it shows anything about parties related media, it would mean that the leftist media isn't good at controlling costs. But I would tend to think it's just another dot.bomb.
    • "Left-wing media a financial failure?" [slashdot.org] by toupsie [slashdot.org]

      ***1/2

      Why is it that openly conservative media finds financial success while liberal media seems relegated to the realms of popular and commercial ruin? This is the question asked by toupsie in "Left-wing media a financial failure?", a thought-provoking new comment by the prolific, seemingly right-leaning Slashdot reader. While this ground has been covered before on Slashdot, toupsie's thorough linking and sharp writing style make this one of the most competent treatments of the subject. However, readers looking for comments with more answers than questions would do best to look elsewhere.

      As the comment opens, we are introduced to a variety of notable leftist sites, each of which has failed to galvanize its intended audience into a potent political force. As a counterbalance, toupsie then lists a number of policial media success stories, all of which have a strong and identifiable conservative bias. With the stage now set for conflict, toupsie comes right out and asks the question heretofore only hinted at: "Is there something outside the marketability of political orientation that is a factor in this difference in success?"

      While the question is posed in an intelligent and inspiring manner, toupsie is careful to avoid conjecture, instead leaving the answers to his complex questions in the hands of the Slashdot readership. A few weak guesses are offered up to get conversation rolling, but it is difficult to believe that the author actually feels that way himself. While it leaves a taste of incompleteness is your mouth, toupsie's decision to leave answers for another day is ultimately a wise one. These are questions which have no clear answers. Including "answers" in his post would not only detract from the strength of toupsie's earlier questioning and cast doubt on his reliability, but would possibly reveal his own political bias. This could divide his audience and possibly endanger the entire post. While a more daring author might throw caution to the wind and state his own personal beliefs, toupsie prefers the safe route, and I don't think any of us could fault him for that.

      Overall, it's a very solid post and I recommend it in its entirety.
    • by cburley ( 105664 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @12:57AM (#3776970) Homepage Journal
      Does political orientation give a business an advantage in a Capitalistic society?

      Speaking for myself as a "media consumer", what gives an outlet an advantage competing for my interest are rationalism and fairness.

      I listen to Rush, I watch Fox News, and I also (still) occasionally pick up on other, more traditional, "liberal" outlets.

      The difference for me isn't just that I tend to agree more with Rush or with the Fox commentators, though that helps some, because there have been other "right-wing" sources that turned me off completely (can't recall the "loudmouth" guy, who died a year or so ago, that kinda paved the way for Rush, Mancow, etc., but he's an example, as is "700 Club", of sources with which I might agree politically but can't stomach).

      What makes the difference for me is that when I get my news from what, today, are considered "right-wing" sources, I find it rare that I later discover some crucial bit of information was left out of my "feed" later on.

      Whereas the "left-wing" sources tend to conveniently forget, neglect, or overlook important data, nevermind that they're constantly bashing and/or labeling the right in the first place. (For example, conveniently omitting the fact that Bush's 2001-era "ban on stem cell research" was really just a ban on federal funding of research that'd inherently involve destroying viable human embryos. As another example, I suspect the recent headlines "Federal Court Rules Pledge of Allegiance is Unconstitutional" is overly hysterical, that they really just ruled that a teacher leading a recital of it is unconstitutional -- a rare example of an hysterically inflated and/or misinformed summary that helps the right more than the left!)

      I remember why I first listened to Rush. I'd heard his name mentioned by Roger Ailes in a meeting relating to media in Boston, and, quite literally, in this crowd of supposedly open-minded elite liberal media types, there was hissing. That was back around 1990 or so, maybe?

      Around the same time, an unsuccessful sequel sitcom called "The New WKRP" had an episode involving a Rush-clone character named, IIRC, "Lash Rambaugh", which tried to be even-handed about the visceral, "he must be stopped" reaction among the radio-station hands when they learned this character was gaining air time on their precious station.

      What got my attention was that a) I was basically being indoctrinated to hate Rush, primarily through the unstated, but nevertheless clear, implication that he was himself a hater, a neo-Nazi, whatever, and that b) no actual evidence was being supplied of what he actually said on a typical show.

      (The WKRP episode was particularly stunning in how it omitted any actual reference to any actual offensive thing this Lash Rambaugh guy said; at least, that's how I remember it.)

      So I thought, hey, I'm a Christian, theoretically I shouldn't immediately sign up as a "Rush hater" as if I'm protecting women, babies, and minorities by spreading the "hate-Rush gospel" until I've listened to the guy (and read his book(s)) myself, so I can speak to the issues myself.

      Upshot? I quickly discovered what a convincing, willing, campaign of whispered lies the anti-Rush activists were fomenting (and still foment today, though I suspect most of them are simply uninformed haters of all things right-wing simply on auto-pilot, displaying less intelligence, thoughtfulness, and willingness to reconsider than Rosie O'Donnell).

      Because while Rush was, and is, bombastic, sometimes arrogant, and dynamic, he's also one of the most truly humble and fair-minded political commentators I've ever heard.

      Don't believe me? Consider this: he doesn't believe he knows better than you how you should spend your money, what kind of car you should buy, with what sort (or gender) person you should sleep, what drugs you should or shouldn't take, whether you should own a gun, where you should send your kids to school, and so on.

      Except to the extent he offers his advice on these matters, he so rarely advocates actual laws to impose his views on people, it strikes me that, as bombastic as he is, he really doesn't think nearly as much as himself as, say, Bill O'Reilly, who thinks people should be forced by government, when they buy cars, to choose higher-mileage ones even if they themselves have good reasons to buy, say, an SUV.

      Now, is that politically conservative or libertarian of Rush? Sure. But it's nowhere near the hatred that he was billed as having, and his most controversial remarks (mostly regarding warring on other countries and stuff, I'd say) don't compare to the daily grind of anti-choice venom coming from left-wing media outlets, which assume that few Americans know enough to decide what to buy, what to eat, how much to save, etc. for themselves, but somehow, in some way, can be expected to properly elect people to two of three branches of a federal government that'll make all these decisions for them in toto.

      And I've heard Rush and Fox commentators (such as E. D. Hill, previously Donahey) sum up the liberal viewpoint on an issue so much more clearly and coherently that I've sometimes actually felt myself agreeing with it, compared to left-wing outlets, which so steadfastly refuse to provide a balanced, rational, both-or-more-sides set of views on an issue, that I usually assume their views must be wrong, if they can't back them up by stating them fairly.

      In short: I believe the left-wing media is failing because they follow the left-wing political approach of denigrating the ability of the average individual to consider and sort through information themselves in a rational way, and to learn, through feedback, experience, and so on how to improve their own ability to engage in that very process, and I believe the "right-wing media" is succeeding because they value the ability of their viewers to understand at least the basics (and, yes, TV doesn't tend to explore topics in much details, I admit) of various sides of the issues and therefore make more-informed decisions on their own.

      In cases where I've kept fairly careful, objective track of how specific issues are covered among the media outlets, I've found that the "right-wing" ones that are getting all the attention lately simply present a more complete picture of the issues and how the different sides see the story than the "left-wing" ones that are dying.

      What that means to me is, if I pay attention only to left-wing media, sure, I can ultimately become convinced that all right-wingers are rich white hating corporate types who must be defeated at all costs, but I'll be stunned, in a discussion with an actual rational right-winger who gets his news from other sources, to learn stuff I had no idea was the case -- that my left-wing "feeders" decided I was better off not knowing, yet that undercuts some or all of my arguments.

      But if I pay attention only to "right-wing" media, there's much less likelihood that, in a discussion with a left-winger, they'll bring up some crucial point that my "feeders" chose to not make me aware of. (Oh, in my experience, they'll try, but usually I've found that they're either making stuff up out of whole cloth, or greatly exaggerating some trivial thing, as in "Remember the October Surprise!" or "But it was Reagan who foisted crack cocaine on urban America!".)

      And while it certainly doesn't hurt that I feel less personally insulted by Rush/FOX/etc than by NYTimes/CNN/NBC/etc based on my opinions, the fact is that, even in cases where I disagree equally with a given outlet, the former are much less likely to make me feel insulted by doing so than the latter. (Bill O'Reilly being an excellent counterexample: "Republicans don't want Americans to drive higher-mileage cars", he was saying about a year ago, based on the fact that Republicans were leaning, compared to Democrats, more towards individual choice in that matter; hardly a case of actively preventing anyone from choosing an 80mpg Honda over a 10mpg SUV, and a counterexample to his claim of having a "No Spin Zone". I'm picking on Bill because I happen to admire his work on his TV show overall, and am grateful for his zealousness in taking on many sacred cows, such as the charity beauracracies post-09-11.)

      Finally, as one last example of left-wing media bias, consider how it celebrated moderately successful left-wing commentators and talk-show hosts over the last 10 years, such as Rosie O'Donnell, the hosts of The View, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and so on, making sure we all knew just what was So Wonderful about all of them.

      Now compare that coverage to that of Rush, one of the most successful broadcasters in the history of any form of media, and ask yourself this:

      Based on what the "media watchers" have chosen to tell you, who is more likely to have an African American guest-host his show: David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, or Rush Limbaugh?

      I'm pretty sure the answer is Rush Limbaugh, based on frequency of use of Dr. (Professor?) Walter Williams, one of the funniest men on radio.

      But you won't hear that from the people who, in this very thread, bash Rush based not on listening to him and telling the truth about what he says, but based on advocating their narrow-minded political agenda. And they'll happily let any claims about Rush being "racist" slide right by mere "facts" such as his current marriage being presided over by an African American.

      And, yes, I've proven the effectiveness of relying more on "right-wing" media than left-wing media in discussions I've had with people more or less liberal, conservative, etc. than myself. I've had an otherwise-well-informed, intelligent, left-wing/anarchist teacher/lawyer tell me straight out Rush was a racist, only, after my countering with some facts, that what he means is that Rush advocates positions that aren't in line with the NAACP, for one example. (The look on the guy's face when I later complained about the Clinton/Reno record of oppressing poor white Christian populations such as the Branch Davidians and the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez was priceless: this guy really believed in his liberalism, in the little guy, and he just hadn't yet put it all together until I pointed it out! I learned more about his views, of course, but he had few surprises for me, other than his high-for-a-liberal level of rationality.)

      (An example of Walter Williams humor: contemplating whether the federal government should even mandate education for children at all, prompted by a caller to consider how far such a requirement should go, he concludes, paraphrased, "I'm in favor of mandating and funding a child's education through third grade, because, by then, he's learned enough to read the sign on my lawn that says 'Private Property -- KEEP OUT'!". ;-)

      In summary: it isn't the politics so much as the completeness of the picture at a given depth that, for me, determines the usefulness of a media outlet. (I tend to believe left-wing politics intrinsically involves deceit by its elites, based on its structural characteristics and history, but I don't need to be sure of this to reasonably assess the completeness of a given media presentation and have tried to put this belief, or speculation, aside as a possible bias.)

      I don't think I can possibly claim I'm representative of any portion of Americans or others, however.

    • (For the record, I'm libertarian, and don't associate myself with either the left or right wing.)

      Practically speaking, the liberal mentality fits the poor to lower-middle class income group, because (in the USA anyway) the left focuses on taking your money away from you forcibly, and giving it to "the needy," such as all those DESERVING people on welfare.

      So of course the poorer people in the country are going to be left wing... they want my tax money.

      The right wing tends to be the richer side of things, they work to allow me to keep my money, and donate it to those organizations I wish, as I see fit. (Except I have to trade in control over my body for this financial luxury.)

      So, to me, it makes perfect sense that leftist media have a hard time surviving, while right wing media thrive. Just look at the audiences' incomes. I'm sure there are studies out there showing average incoming levels of the two sides.
      • such as all those DESERVING people on welfare.


        Yah, I can see how you can have scorn for some lady whose husband just left her and her special needs child running at ~1k a month in treatments is being threatened to taken away to a publicly ran 'institution'.

        Sure, deserves lots of scorn. I mean hell, she is just out for your money, evil evil lady, after your cash, can't let that happen now can we?

        Those awful conniving poor. . . .

        Bleh. Fuck off and / or get a clue. Better yet, get poor and grow up with something besides dreams of getting rich. Many of the poor live and die poor so that their children can hopefully grow up to a better life; damn lot higher of a sacrifice then any amount of mere money that you could ever be taxed.
        • Yah, I can see how you can have scorn for some lady whose husband just left her and her special needs child running at ~1k a month in treatments is being threatened to taken away to a publicly ran 'institution'.

          Please tell me you're not so naive as to think that anywhere near the majority of people on welfare are as deserving of help as the example lady above?

          Welfare is a piece of shit. This lady would be much better off if we all kept our tax money, and helped her out through a well-organized charity, not a government run bureaucracy that rewards those that are good at cheating the system.
          • I think there's a problem of terminology here. The lady isn't deserving of anything. If the country was a pond, she'd be the crud that lived on the bottom. But she's our crud and because of that we take pity on her.

            We realize that it could be any one of us on the bottom of that pond, but we also need to realize that even the bottommost dreg can raise itself off the floor. The goal of welfare should be to encourage and enable those dregs to lift themselves off the floor with a minimum of assistance. Rawls expounds on this concept of the safety net, but IMO goes a little overboard advocating what amounts to be a neo-Communist state ala Finland or Sweden.

            The welfare system is to be judged on how well it lifts people from the bottom and returns them to productivity. When people find themselves unable to escape from the jaws of the system, something is seriously wrong and probably lacking in the system. However, tossing the system wholesale is wrongheaded IMO. A revamping and rethinking of strategies to help welfare recipients rather than simply handing them a check would be far better than tossing the baby out with the bathwater and relying on private charities who are simply not equipped to help at this time.
    • The only left wing radio I can think of is National Public Radio and it only stays in business because of the US Taxpayer
      The other left-wing radio (much more left) would be Pacifica [pacifica.org], but they've been having troubles lately (both money and internal politics, I believe). Of course, all college and community radio tends to be quite left.

      It isn't fair to say NPR only stays in business because of the taxpayer (unless you include all radio stations, because of free spectrum). It's maybe 10, 20% of funding now... I can't remember exactly (they always give the number during pledge drives, but it's been a while). I think something like 60% of funding comes from individual members. At least at the local station level -- the money then sifts its way up to NPR itself. The rest comes from corporate funding and grants, I believe.

      That public radio keeps going mostly by pledges is really a quite inspiring model for web content... even Salon's subscription marketing looks more like a pledge drive than an exchange of goods. Too bad Salon couldn't quite pull it off -- they didn't have the modest beginnings that public radio had, though, and it took radio a long time to get where it is.

    • I don't see how anyone could possible compare the supposed bias of CNN (slight if any, and regarded as bad even by themselves) to that of FoxNews, which wears its political slant boldly. There are definately valid examples of left-wing bias in the news, but the fact is, claiming that the news is left-slanted is more of a cottage industry on the right than it is a fair and balenced characterization of the work doen by the mainstream journalism industry.
  • because like every failure on the net, they realized too late what they should have done in the beginning... charge for whatever they provide, ads never did made it as a business plan on the net, so what the hell toke them so long to start charging?

    one thing they did when things got rough was... well, increase the ad's size, form and shape, well doesn't seem that did it... then subscribers, but hey... those 70 M wont go away with 40K subscribers alone. maybe not even 400K...
  • by dlur ( 518696 ) <dlur@nOsPam.iw.net> on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:29PM (#3776269) Homepage Journal

    I'll start off by saying I enjoy the majority of articles I read on Salon.com. They're edgy and have a certain kick to them.

    What I don't like is the overly intrusive ads they use. They've tried every single type of ad possible it would seem. Not only are full page ads extremely annoying, but because of their intrusiveness I'm even less likely than I normally would be to click on one of them.

    Today I was trying to read what I thought would be an interesting article judging by the headline that showed up in my salon slashbox. But like nearly every article on Salon.com the article was preceeded by a full page ad for something I have absolutely no interest in. I went with my gut reaction and clicked "go directly to story" only to find much to my dismay that the link took me directly to the exact same ad I was so intent on avoiding. I tried a few more times to get past the ad. I even waited for the ad to finish its little video, and at the end of that even it rewound and played the ad over and over again, never going to the story. I played with the URL a bit to see if I could bypass the ad, to no avail. I tried going through salon.com's homepage to get around the ad, no luck there either. Finally I got so frustrated that I emailed their customer service. Note that I'm not a paying subscriber to their web page content, but within 5 minutes I had an email back in my inbox telling me that if I didn't like the ads to subscribe and pay the fee to browse ad-free.

    Of all the news sites I browse on a day to day basis, salon.com has got to have the most intrusive, annoying, and un-related advertisements of any of them.

    Of course I don't have a real solution to their financial problems, but I think that if they had been a little less annoying, and had offered up some truly captivating content that I couldn't find anywhere else I may have paid for a subscription, but the only things I found by browsing their homepage that I couldn't access without a subscription were mostly in the Sex category, and well I'd rather get my pRon elsewhere thank you. As much as I hate to say it, I think maybe if their ads were actually catered towards the category that you were trying to get to, then perhaps they might have something. But as it is right now all of their ads seem to be totally generic and unrelated to any of the content at all. If you have a section on technology, at least make sure that the ads in that section relate to technology, to the interests of people who would browse that category.

    • Hmm, so, you like their content, and you'd like them to stay alive, but the ads annoy you? Why not (here comes the new and exciting, outside-the-box idea)...buy a subscription? It helps them stay alive, and it gets rid of the ads. Two birds with one stone!
    • true, true (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lingqi ( 577227 )
      Not only are full page ads extremely annoying, but because of their intrusiveness I'm even less likely than I normally would be to click on one of them.

      you got that right. something similar would be carrot-top AT&T commercials.

      but (yeah, the big but), there really isn't any other ways of doing ad and make money at the same time. i mean, it's sad and all, but it stems from the fact that when i watch TV and a carrot top ad comes on, i look for the remote to switch channels -- but what if i can't find the remote in time, and it's 20sec into a 30sec commercial? i bear the rest of it. really. but not so on the net. you see -- TVs are passive, it means that the ads are fed (for the lack of a better word) to you. but you are in a different mind-set when online. in such an interactive environment, you want, nay, demand that the contents are right there when you do the fancy right-left-sideways click. that's why you are annoyed.

      every ad-driven company is facing the same probelm. /. is one of them. think about it for a bit now: TVs are completely ad-supported. why does slashdot need to start subscriptions? hell, one person's salary on Buffy can fuel slashdot for a year and half. are TV ads *that* more effective than internet ads? sadly, yes.

      before i get modded down for "rambling without a point" -- the conclusion is - sadly, ads are annoying on a website, anywebsite. especially the never-can-close porn ads ;). but that's not because they want it -- it's because some genious hasn't figured out a way otherwise yet.

      p.s. -- if you can figure out some way to make non-intrusive web-ads as effective as the TV ones -- you will be rich. let me know when you get there. i promise i won't sue for patent infringement. ;)

  • suck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:32PM (#3776284) Homepage
    I also morn suck.com. The current slate is a piss poor substitute for these two sites.
  • by EnVisiCrypt ( 178985 ) <groovetheorist@h ... UEom minus berry> on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:32PM (#3776288)
    their auditors doubt the company can stay in business
    Perhaps they should call Andersen? "Um, yeah, you've got years of life left in this company."
  • Then click Save... maybe that will help!!

    JOhn
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @10:53PM (#3776429) Homepage
    After all, they were kicked down from the NASDAQ National Market System to the Small-Cap Market in October of 2001. Their stock has dropped from $10 to $0.09. They've never made money. I had them on Deathwatch [downside.com] years ago. One of their editors used to bitch at me for listing them as doomed.

    They had good writing. As a modest literary magazine, along the lines of the Atlantic or the Nation, they had potential. But no way should they have ever become a major public company. That was sheer arrogance.

    There was so much of that in the dot-com era.


  • I'd have sympathy for them if they diden't BURN THROUGH $75,000,000.00. The debt load alone will kill them, and the fact that their crappy business skill with most likly take down The Well is a real bummer.

    Not if The Onion [onion.com] falls on bad times then that will truly be a shame.

    • ...$75,000,000 is alot of cash.

      Can anyone please explain to me how the fuck an online mag can go though that much money? What's it all spent on?

  • I'd send Salon a few bucks but I shot my wad saving kuro5hin LAST month. They should have had their money troubles sooner..

    Actually, I'm just kidding.. I've been a Salon subscriber for a while, if only there were more of us they might not be in this trouble.. I'd hate to see Salon go. It isn't the greatest site ever, but I think it fills a valuable niche.
  • I like the salon, I read it daily or every couple of days. They are pretty informative, although they sometimes print (or upload) some stuff that is quite outragous.

  • Salon was a good Internet magazine. The real shame is, an effective business modle was not (and still has'nt) been developed between online magazines, readers, and advertisments.

    Why is it paper magazine can be succesful with a solid subscriber base without ads that try to jump out and scream for your attention, and online publications can't.

    I blame the ad industry, which is still way too young for the Internet. When they discover that success can be better measured in page views instead of click throughs, they will have grown up and decent content will be supported (Imagine if companies who advertised in triditional magazines only judged their ads based on how many people stoped reading and immediatly jumped up and drove to their store).

    So, give it another 5 years until the ad industry grows up. I just hope something like Salon will start up at that point.

    ---
  • Salon started out with high aspirations to produce a slick web daily when no one else seemed interested. Unfortunately for them, most other magazines, tv shows, etc figured out the web in time to be relevant.

    Also, it must be said, their politics were insipidly honkey-liberal...frustrating and agonizing to people all over the spectrum. It seems that they never really got over society's wholesale dismissal of Clinton...their entire MO seemed to be driven by a desire to resurrect his reputation, even moreso than a desire to bolster the Democratic party itself.

    Their tech column was fair, but it really did't break any useful news.

    If they had been more balanced in their writing they might have attracted a larger audience, but their limousine-liberal articles became grating.

  • by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @01:13AM (#3777026) Journal
    That movie "Brewsters Millions"? (He had to spend so much cash in a short period of time in order to inherit much more cash with certain stipulations...) I don't think most people could blow $75 Meeeelion dollars even on a real company without turning some sort of profit along the way....Hell you would make all these crazy expenditures -- and you would start to get customers and sale products by accident somewhere around $25 Million...:) Hell you could create a business selling tumbleweeds or rocks and dirt delivered from the arizona desert in little baggies on the concord -- and one day a busload of Japanese tourists would show up at the doorstep....errrr....I ain't gonna make my quota of losing $75 million if these damn busses keep showing up!!! Ahhh....Lets take this business online if we really want to lose some big money....But damn....we have a product --- the tumbleweeds are flying of the shelf....we are overnighting these things to Japan on the Space Shuttle and still only $43 million in the hole....

    Sorry -- I am no business man....But fail to see how a website can spend that kind of dough....(I am sure bandwidth and server costs are only a drop in the bucket.....) And what does this say about the 40K people who have paid??? That is real income --- yet they still can't make money....
  • I recently found myself in a similar situation when my Daily self-published internet column [aardvark.co.nz] finally became just too much of a drain on my finances and I was faced with shutting it down after seven years of work.

    The subscription option was considered but in the end, just 2% of the regular audience said they would subscribe -- a number far too low to support the site.

    However, I was very lucky insomuch as I managed to obtain a 12-month sponsorship from a local ISP which, while not covering all the costs, at least pays for the cofee, power, phone and some of the other outgoings.

    Given the sad fate of so many great online publications, it strikes me that perhaps the secret to longevity and (ultimately?) profit may well be KISS - that's Keep It Small & Sponsored.

    It strikes me that too many online publications focus on building empires rather than simply creating and publishing good content at minimal cost.

    For example -- does Salon rent office space?

    Why?

    Surely a "new media" publisher would realize the enormous savings to be made by having writers work from home and email in their copy.

    When I launched 7am.com [7am.com], I ran the entire operation (2 million hits per day and a network of 200,000 third-party websites) on a completely virtual basis. No rented offices, no conference room, no company cars, no scooters -- just a group of hard-working people staying in touch and coordinating their efforts over the Net.

    The Net may be a great medium for publishing content -- but it's an even greater way to slash your operating costs -- if you use it properly!

    • I recently found myself in a similar situation when my Daily self-published internet column [aardvark.co.nz] finally became just too much of a drain on my finances and I was faced with shutting it down after seven years of work.

      Maybe you were funneling to much cash into your hobbies [aardvark.co.nz] :) All kidding aside...I had a "blast" of a time reading about your Jet-Kart [aardvark.co.nz]
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @02:01AM (#3777160) Homepage
    Sites like kuro5hin.org which, through careful donation drives, make 6 months of operating money in 3 days. Non-profits who are there for the people, who are lean and run well mainly out of the pockets of the people who're there?

    Maybe a big business media site like Salon can't stay in business, but I'm sure that a leaner site could've. The Internet is all about the little guy, as Dan's Data's "Minnows 1, whales 0 [dansdata.com]" argues. Until more people are online supporting a services model, you can't just base your entire revenue on a needing "just a few more" subscribers to break even.

    Salon should've restructured about 74.5 million ago. They've lost a stupid amount of money.
    • by brad.hill ( 21936 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:11AM (#3779696)
      No offense, but user-submitted blogs like K5 are nowhere near the quality of Salon, with real writers (with editors! *gasp*), investigative journalism, news feeds, commentary from notables in the fields they cover, work for hire from professional writers, etc...


      K5 and it's ilk have their niche, but there's no way that Plastic compares to what Suck used to be.

  • Wow! How do you spend almost $2,000 per subscriber on an online magazine. Are they buying premium priced electrons?
  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Thursday June 27, 2002 @11:05AM (#3779645) Homepage

    Wired was the first source AFAIK to describe the Well as "one of the earliest and most influential online communities."

    So far the only influence of the Well is the self-agrandizing perspective of those who belonged to it.

    Usenet ran circles around the Well, not to talk about the early Internet. Heck, Joe McCarthy mailing list at MIT was more influential than the Well.

    So put a lid on it. The Well was a neat local BB in the Bay area. Nothing more, nothing less.

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