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Slate is an online political and cultural magazine founded in 1996 and currently owned by the Graham Holdings Co.
Slate was launched by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley and initially owned by Microsoft — one of the first online-only publications founded as part of a major corporation or media outlet.
Much of Slate’s commentary has centered on culture and the arts, as well as political reporting and commentary. It has also produced several regular features aggregating, summarizing, and explaining other news and commentary on the web, such as its Today’s Papers Other Magazines (both of which have been discontinued) and the Slatest roundups and Explainer column. Slate has also been characterized by an irreverent, contrarian tone.
Slate turned a profit for the first time in 2003, having launched with significant investment from Microsoft but moved toward profitability through an advertising-based model. The site hired its own dedicated sales force for the first time in late 2011.
In 2005, Slate was sold to the Washington Post Co., and in 2008, the Post formed a online subsidiary called The Slate Group, which includes Slate, its video and podcasting outlet Slate V, African American culture magazine The Root and the financial site The Big Money. The Slate Group remained with the Washington Post Co. after the company sold The Washington Post in 2013 and changed its name to the Graham Holdings Co.
In 2009, Slate launched a French edition. In 2010, it launched Slate Labs, a section of the site focused on “experiments in multimedia journalism.” It began emphasizing more frequent daily content in an effort to grow traffic in 2011 and 2012, in conjunction with an increased focus on data analytics and social media.
Slate has gone deeper into web video in 2010 and 2011, launching its video Trending News Channel in 2010 and forming a Slate News Channel on YouTube in 2011. It has also been a leader in podcasting, with 19 podcasts averaging more than 1 million monthly downloads as of mid-2012.
Slate instituted a $19.95-per-year subscription fee for much of its content in 1998, then withdrew the paywall the following year. Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg, a former Slate editor, said in 2010 he has no plans to reintroduce paid content, though he does plan to charge for various forms of mobile access to Slate’s sites, such as its $1.99 iPhone app. In 2012, Weisberg said Slate is looking at experimenting with a membership model similar to NPR’s.
Jacob Weisberg interview at paidContent:
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation that funds a variety of causes, including journalism projects and organizations. The foundation was founded in 1950 by the Knight brothers, who owned the Ohio-based Knight Newspapers, which later became Knight Ridder. Since 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $400 million in journalism…