What Salon did last summer

By Salon Staff

Published September 10, 2001 11:41PM (EDT)

We survived. And it wasn't easy. In the midst of hundreds of dot-com deaths and a deepening recession (yes, I think it's finally time to use the R word), Salon managed to raise enough money to fight on -- all the way, we believe, to profitability.

We're still here largely because of you, our readers. There are now more of you than ever, nearly 4 million a month (despite the fact that Salon has nearly eliminated its marketing budget and has not been bundled by MSN or AOL). And more and more of you are becoming Salon Premium subscribers.

Many Web users remain resistant to the idea of paying for online journalism. But if the current advertising decline has taught us anything, it's that vital and independent media require the support of their audiences. If your local public radio station makes a difference in your life, if you depend on your city paper for local news, if you feel uninformed about the world without subscribing to the New York Times or the New Yorker, then it's worth the check you write to keep this essential communication line open.

For more and more people, Salon has become such a jungle drum, an irreplaceable source of news and opinion well worth a $30 annual premium subscription to keep it beating. Simply put, Salon's future depends on these people and on our ability to convert more of our loyal readers to paid subscribers.

Salon is the last of the Web independents. We are not owned or kept by Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, Viacom or any of the other engorged media giants that control more and more of the Web and the rest of the world's communications. There is nothing else like Salon, a fearless and uncompromised news crusader reaching a mass audience on a daily basis. There are no other media outlets willing and able to cover the Bush administration, the Media Borg, the drug war and countless other subjects with the same passionate honesty.

Every day brings news of another business deal that adds to the media titans' girth; when they're not gobbling smaller companies, they're making patty-cake with each other (see last week's pact between MSN and Disney's ESPN). Ever get the feeling you're getting the same story over and over again? (Or in Johnny Rotten's immortal words, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated ?") That's because you are -- the same bland, formulaic news product is being churned out by the same clerks sitting in a half-dozen Manhattan skyscrapers. (No wonder Murdoch's Fox News is stealing the cable spotlight lately -- at least it has the passion of its convictions, even if they're cranky and conservative. How long will it take the new bosses at CNN to remember that millions more Americans voted for Gore and Nader than for Bush -- that's where their channel's market opportunity lies.)

All the news that's fit to merchandise! This is no way to run a democracy. Without a multitude of voices in the media market, the citizenry falls deeper into its benumbed, overentertained, underinformed sleep state.

Stay awake. Instead of plunking down more money for AOL or MSN upsells or subscribing to yet another Time Warner Condé Nast Hearst magazine with a Mark Wahlberg cross-promotion on the cover (how much do you really need to know about the man and his products?), it's time to vote for a robust and democratic media by signing up for Salon Premium.

There is no better time to become a Salon subscriber. Starting this week, more of Salon's cover stories as well as our roster of provocative political columnists will be offered exclusively to Salon Premium members. In addition to Joe Conason, Robert Scheer and Arianna Huffington on the left and David Horowitz on the right, Salon recently welcomed columnist Norah Vincent, a radical libertarian who takes the place of the unclassifiable Camille Paglia (who, we regret to announce, has left Salon after five years of feisty fusillades).

A note on Salon's columnists: These sharp-witted advocates have attracted many Premium subscribers. But we have also heard from readers who insist that the only thing preventing them from signing up is the presence of conservative pundits like David Horowitz (or Vincent) in our editorial mix. How can we showcase a writer with such ardent conservative ideas in what is, in most respects, an equally ardent liberal publication? Our answer is that Salon publishes a range of voices precisely because we are liberal. Liberalism is a social philosophy, not a theology, and at its heart is a tolerance and respect for dissenting opinions. Only the divine are infallible in their judgment. For the rest of us, it's healthy to be exposed to a range of views before coming to our own.

If you're seeking a dinner party, with a mixture of guests, instead of a church, Salon is the place for you. Please help keep the festivities going by contributing at the door. And thanks again for your support.

David Talbot
Salon Editor

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