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Primary website:
slate.com
Primary Twitter:
@Slate

Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

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 has been described as a transitional link between traditional and new media as well as a successor to the newsweekly’s role as a political and cultural observer.

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.

In 2011, Slate launched a redesigned and expanded version of The Slatest, a news aggregator meant to fill in the gap between breaking news and the magazine’s long-form treatment of stories.

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 10 podcasts led by the Political Gabfest as of 2014.

Slate instituted a $19.95-per-year subscription fee for much of its content in 1998, then withdrew the paywall the following year after attracting 20,000 subscribers. In 2014, after going 15 years without a paid-content plan outside of mobile apps, Slate introduced a $5-per-month membership model called Slate Plus allowing exclusive content as well as access to Slate writers and events.

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: May 8, 2014.
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