When we launched our Salon Premium membership program four years ago on Monday, it was widely viewed as the Hail Mary pass of a dot-com threatened with extinction. Slate began and abandoned a subscription program early on; Inside.com tried it and bit the dust; only the Wall Street Journal had managed to make people pay for content, when the rest of the Web was free.
What none of the naysayers counted on was the loyalty of our readers, who signed up by the thousands right away. The business climate got even tougher for Salon after we launched Premium, especially in the wake of Sept. 11, but our members kept us afloat.
Now that Internet advertising has rebounded, at least for the moment, we no longer have to go to you with poignant pitches to keep our doors open. But it's still a tough time to be an independent news organization, and we still need your support. Advertising alone isn't enough to support our work, so we continue to rely on loyal readers -- almost 84,000 of you -- who want to back tough, investigative reporting and the best culture coverage on the Web.
Just in the last two weeks, we've brought you a four-part package on Tom DeLay's ethical troubles; Michelle Goldberg's report from inside the theocracy movement, and Farhad Manjoo's look at how such extremists are playing a role in picking judges. We kicked off a popular new feature on the future of the Democrats, "Life of the Party," with a profile of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer that was one of our most read, e-mailed and blogged-about stories in weeks. We're also proud of Phillip Robertson's moving eulogy for California humanitarian aid worker Marla Ruzicka, killed by suicide bombers in Iraq on Sunday, as well as our clear-eyed coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II and the elevation of conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI. While the rest of the media was genuflecting, Salon was virtually alone in asking tough questions about both men's mixed legacies.
Plus, each and every day you get six great features that have become daily addictions for a lot of our readers: our popular War Room political blog; Audiofile, our daily music download column; the überblog, the Daou Report; the Fix; Cary Tennis' Since You Asked advice column; along with King Kaufman's Sports Daily. Premium also entitles you to membership in Salon's jumping online community, Table Talk, as well as access to an ever rotating menu of benefits. Currently we're offering subscriptions to Wired, Paste Magazine and the New Republic Digital. In just the past year we've offered our members 13 magazine subscriptions including the New York Review of Books, Granta and the Week, as well as invitations to local events, special member-only contests and much, much more.
So, what are you waiting for? Go Premium today to support independent journalism and your daily culture fix. You'll be able to read Salon without ads while getting more than the value of your subscription in great benefits through the next year. And you can give one to a friend for free. Theres never been a better time to be generous.
Thanks for reading Salon.
Editor in Chief