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Salon is an online magazine focusing on political and cultural news and commentary.
Salon was founded in 1995 by several former San Francisco Examiner journalists, receiving startup funding from tech companies like Apple and Adobe. It was one of the first prominent webzines, combining political commentary and news with essays and arts criticism.
Salon generally comments on culture and politics from a liberal perspective. Among its more prominent writers have been former editor-in-chief Joan Walsh and progressive political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald, who left for The Guardian in 2012. In November of 2010, Kerry Lauerman became the site’s editor-in-chief. He left in 2013.
Salon has consistently undertaken political reporting: It broke the news of a decades-old affair by Rep. Henry Hyde in 1998, sent reporters to Iraq, and in 2006, it published the largest archive of photos and videos of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Salon initially functioned strictly as an online magazine with a biweekly and later weekly posting schedule, though it has moved away from the magazine concept in recent years. After experimenting with an aggregation-heavy approach, Salon returned to a focus on longer pieces, resulting in the highest traffic in the site’s history.
Since its inception, Salon has struggled to turn a profit, and it remained well below profitability at the end of 2013, though it lost less money than it had in past years. During the dotcom crash of the early 2000s, it was commonly rumored to be near closure. The Salon Media Group went public in 1999, and its stock has traded under $2 since late 2006. Salon derives its income from a combination of subscriptions and advertising revenue.
In 2001, Salon began charging for some of its site’s content, surpassing 100,000 subscribers by 2004. None of Salon’s content is currently restricted to paying customers, though Salon still offers premium ad-free subscriptions. In 2011, it announced it would launch an annual membership program called “Salon Core.”
Salon has made several efforts to involve its readers in its site, launching the Table Talk discussion forums during the 1990s and self-posted letters to the editor in 2005. Salon runs a community blogging site called Open Salon, launched in 2008. As of late 2009, the site had 35,000 bloggers and about 1 million unique visitors a month. Salon also owned the pioneering social site The WELL from 1999 to 2012, when it sold the site to a group of members.
PBS Mediashift’s Mark Glaser interviews Salon CEO Richard Gingras:
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