Salon.com (often just Salon) is the flagship web site of Salon Media Group, Inc., an Internet-based mass media company established in 1995 by editor-in-chief David Talbot and some colleagues from the San Francisco Examiner. The main website is presented as an online magazine, with content updated each weekday. Its headquarters are located in downtown San Francisco, California.
Content and coverage
Salon's magazine covers a variety of topics. American politics is a major focus. It has reviews and articles about music, books, and films. It also has articles about "modern life", including relationships and human sexual behavior. It covers technology, with a particular focus on the free software / open source movement.
Salon covers all of these issues from a liberal political viewpoint, although the site has also featured regular columns from such conservatives as David Horowitz and Andrew Sullivan.
Salon has always been an interactive site to some degree. The salon (gathering) concept is played out in two extensive discussion board communities open exclusively to online subscribers, Salon Table Talk and The WELL, and since 2005, comments on editorial stories open to all readers.
Responding to the question "[...] how far do you go with the tabloid sensibility to get readers?", Salon.com editor in chief David Talbot, said:
Is Salon more tabloid-like? Yeah, we've made no secret of that. I've said all along that our formula here is that we're a smart tabloid. If by tabloid what you mean is you're trying to reach a popular audience, trying to write topics that are viscerally important to a readership, whether it's the story about the mother in Houston who drowned her five children or the story on the missing intern in Washington, [ [Chandra Levy]]. Slate, by the way, also had a story about Chandra Levy on its June 22 cover. Maybe Salon's tabloidism is starting to infect Slate as well, but they're not above or immune to writing about subjects that have a tabloid-like sensibility to them. While Salon has not yet broken any major stories on the shocking and scandalous practice of monkeyfishing in the Florida Keys, we have made other contributions in the field of investigative journalism of which we're proud.
- More information on this topic is available at [ Wikipedia:Salon.com ]
Salon's history is reflective of the difficulties in creating a profitable business selling original, professionally-produced media content over the Internet. In April 1999, Salon purchased the notable virtual community, [ [The WELL]], yielding international media attention. Then on June 22, 1999, Salon.com IPO'd on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Though dot-com speculation had not yet reached its peak by then, the performance of Salon.com's stock offering was mediocre, reflecting investor skepticism about its business model and the dutch auction IPO model it used to go public.
On April 25, 2001, Salon launched Salon Premium, a pay-to-view (online) content subscription. Salon Premium signed over 130,000 subscribers and staved off discontinuation of services.
Such skepticism would soon be confirmed as Salon announced ever-increasing total losses. On November 13, 2002, the company announced it had accumulated cash and non-cash losses of $80 million. By February 2003 it was having difficulty paying its rent, and made an appeal for donations to keep the company running.
On October 9, 2003, Michael O'Donnell, the CEO and president of Salon Media Group, said he was leaving the company after seven years because it was "time for a change." When he left, Salon.com had accrued $83.6 million in losses since its inception, and its stock traded for 5¢ on the OTC Bulletin Board. David Talbot, Salon's chairman and editor-in-chief at the time, became the new chief executive. Elizabeth "Betsy" Hambrecht, then Salon's CFO, became the president.
As of early spring 2005, Salon had made a quarterly profit for the first time in its existence, benefiting from a resurgent online ad market and an established subscription business. However, Salon.com is still in a precarious financial position as its stock has been delisted from the NASDAQ exchange. It currently trades as an over-the-counter penny stock for less than 50¢ per share.
Business model and operations
Aspects of the Salon.com site offerings, ordered by advancing date:
- Free content, around 15 new articles posted per-day, revenues wholly derived from in-page advertisements
- Per-day new content was reduced for a time.
- Salon Premium subscription. Approximately 20% of new content made available to subscribers only. Other subscription benefits included free magazines and ad-free viewing. Larger, more conspicuous ad units introduced for non-subscribers.
- A hybrid subscription model. Readers now can read content by viewing a 15-second full screen advertisement to earn a "day pass" or gain access by subscribing to Salon Premium.
- Moses, Kate (editor). Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood (2000). ISBN 0-671-77468-9
- Miller, Laura (editor). The Salon.Com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors (2000). ISBN 0-14-028088-X
- Don George (editor). Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventures and Romance (2001). ISBN 0333905024
- Leibovich, Lori (editor). Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence, and How They Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives (2006). ISBN 0-06-073781-6
- Salon.com website
- Salon.com stock (SLNM.OB) historical performance
- Salon buys The WELL
- The WELL
- Interview with Salon editor David Talbot at Journalismjobs.com