Digiday explores Slate’s early days and the transition to being owned by the Washington Post.
In Internet years, Slate is a gray beard. It debuted in 1996, backed by Microsoft. It was at the forefront of many now-common Web trends. It was ahead of the curation curve with “Today’s Papers” and even experimented with a subscription model in the late 1990s (subscribers got a Slate umbrella). It proved that Web-only publications could produce serious, high-quality journalism….
In its first iteration, Slate described itself as an online magazine, published once a week and with page numbers. But it began experimentation with new online storytelling vehicles. You could argue that “In Other Magazines,” which debuted in June 1996, was an early forerunner to the type of aggregation that built blogs.
“I’d do it on Sunday,” Plotz said. “I’d get Time and Newsweek to have them fax the issue, and I’d write about what was in these magazines and update during the week.”
But then a curious thing happened. Princess Diana died in 1997 and changed the course of the outlet. Slate, with a down week, missed what was arguably the first big Web-culture story. What’s more, its rival Salon was all over the news.
“We were dry, and we realized we don’t understand the medium,” Plotz said. “We can’t walk away and have a site that functions and is relevant to the conversation.”
The outlet did a 180, changing from a once-a-week publishing schedule to a daily, then twice daily schedule. It launched blogs, such as Mickey Kaus’ Kausfiles and developed some stellar podcasts like the “Culture Gabfest,” which is still successful today.
I was just offered money to post an infographic. Seriously, people. It’s a BLOG. Let’s keep some perspective, shall we? Put that money towards hiring a graphic designer or statistician. If you have a product you want promoted, buy an ad.
Dustin Smith, Chart Porn, A Bribe?.
FJP: Nicely done, and a good example for the ethics section of Blogging 101.
Variety, the entertainment news and business magazine, released a new blog called ShowBlitz with the accompanying email:
We realize that our paywall has discouraged sites like yours from linking to our content in the past, even when Variety breaks big showbiz stories. Showblitz gives you that way let your users have access to an important source of news — and it also gives you an easy way to monitor a feed of Variety’s exclusives and breaking news.
It appears Variety recognizes that its paywall locks it out from the conversation ecosystem surrounding entertainment news but here’s the rub:
This is not a strategy shift for Variety.com. The paywall lives on. Each entry on Showblitz – short, timely, punchy and art-centric – will include links to the full stories within Variety.com.
A typical ShowBlitz post is a photo and paragraph summary the news that looks more or less like this:
The expectation, or hope, really, is that readers will click that big “Read Full Story” link and head over to the Variety site.
And readers might. But after reading “two articles, columns, photos or videos per month,” they’ll get hit with this screenblock:
So, two questions: the move is obviously a subscription play that markets Variety content to would-be subscribers. But will readers even bother to click through knowing they’ll be hit with a pay now plea?
And with such skimpy content offerings, basically a vanilla summary of the news, what motivates other publications, bloggers and social network posters to actually share and link to it? Right now, they certainly can’t do anything of the sort from it. Think of it as the antisocial blog.
Will be interesting to see if and how this minimalist approach works. Somehow, I doubt it. — Michael