Friday, May 27, 2016

Salon Went Haywire Years Ago

I remember the publication when it first began in the mid-1990s. It was a truly groundbreaking publication that published articles exposing the sham impeachment of then-president Bill Clinton, the scandals of Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde, and many other excellent articles. It also boasted what was the best discussion board on the internet, Table Talk, of which I was a member for several years and then left it for good when the site went pay-to-play in around 2001. Table Talk ended a few years later in favor of the diary system ala Daily Kos (that site I seldom visit anymore or any of the other major blogs). However, Talbot, founder and a good editor despite his gullibility of believing those whacko JFK assassination conspiracy theories, left, and the site went south.

What in the hell happened to the site, now that it regularly trashes Hillary Clinton, and publishes some truly demented shit like the regrets of a would-be pedophile, the latter of which was arguably the worst article in the history of print media of the past fifty years (along with the recent Charlotte Observer editorial that pooh-poohed women's real fears about men in dresses invading their private spaces)?

The link might have an idea:

Salon tried mightily to achieve profitability, and out of necessity became one of the first publishers to test out various ways to monetize its site. Salon Premium, Salon’s first subscription product, launched in April 2001 as “a last-ditch effort to save the business,” according to a former staffer. The site began gating off a few stories every day, but by the end of the year, all of Salon’s news stories became inaccessible to non-subscribers. Later, the site would try out a middle-ground approach — if non-subscribers sat through a 30-second video advertisement, they would receive a daily pass to access the site for free.

By the end of 2004, Salon’s subscription program peaked at 89,100 subscribers, each paying around $30 annually. And while Salon Premium saved the business at the time, some former Salon staff members believe erecting the paywall stunted the site’s growth.

“We were doing this right as the whole blog moment was exploding,” Lauerman said. “There was this great democratization of the web, and we were suddenly behind this gate. It took a long time to recover from that.”

During the paywall years, readership and traffic flattened, even as other sites benefited from the mainstreaming of the Internet and the popularity of blogging, said one former staffer.

The paywall was a failure, but it was the beginning of the end of the magazine.

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