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Slate (website)

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Title: Slate (website)  
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Slate (website)

Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Online magazine
Registration Optional for commenting only
Owner The Washington Post Company
Created by Michael Kinsley
Editor David Plotz
Alexa rank positive decrease 634 (November 2013)[1]
Current status Active

Slate is a United States-based, English language online current affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004 it was purchased by the Washington Post Company. Since 4 June 2008 Slate has been managed by The Slate Group, an online publishing entity created by the Washington Post Company to develop and manage web-only magazines.[2]

A French version ( was launched in February 2009 by a group of four journalists, including Jean-Marie Colombani, Eric Leser, and economist Jacques Attali. Among them, the founders hold 50% in the publishing company, while the Slate Group holds 15%.[3][4]

Since June 2008, David Plotz has served as the editor of Slate.[2][5] He had been the deputy editor to Jacob Weisberg, Slate's editor from 2002 until his designation as the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group.[2] The Washington Post Company's John Alderman is Slate's publisher.[6] Slate (ISSN 1091-2339), which is updated daily, covers politics, arts and culture, sports, and news. The magazine is known (and sometimes criticized) for adopting contrarian positions.[7][8][9] It is ad-supported and has been available to read free of charge since 1999.


Slate features regular and semi-regular columns such as Explainer, Moneybox, Spectator, Transport, and Dear Prudence. Many of the articles are short (under 2,000 words) and argument-driven. In recent years, the magazine has also begun running long-form journalism. Many of the longer stories are an outgrowth of the "Fresca Fellowships," so-called because editor Plotz likes the soft drink Fresca. "The idea is that every writer and editor on staff has to spend a month or six weeks a year not doing their regular job, but instead working on a long, ambitious project of some sort," Plotz said in an interview.[10]

In March 1998, Slate attracted considerable notice by charging a $19.95 annual subscription fee, becoming one of the first sites (outside of pornography and financial news) to attempt a subscription-based business model. The scheme did not work; in February 1999, Slate returned to free content, citing both sluggish subscription sales and increased advertising revenue. A similar subscription model would later be implemented by Slate's independently owned competitor,, in April 2001.

On November 30, 2005, Slate started a daily feature ”Today's Pictures”, featuring fifteen to twenty photographs from the archive at Magnum Photos that share a common theme. The column also features two flash animated ”Interactive Essays” a month.

In June 2006, on its tenth anniversary, Slate unveiled a redesigned website. In 2007, it introduced "Slate V",[11] an online video magazine with content that relates to or expands upon their written articles. In 2013, the magazine was redesigned under the guidance of Design Director Vivian Selbo.

In 2011, Slate was nominated for four digital National Magazine Awards and won the NMA for General Excellence.[12]

In 2012, Slate launched the Slate Book Review, a monthly books section edited by Dan Kois.[13]


On July 15, 2005, Slate began offering a podcast,[14] featuring selected stories from the site read by Andy Bowers, who joined Slate after leaving NPR in 2003.[15]

The site now hosts several regular podcast "gabfests," or roundtables, covering various topics. The Political Gabfest was the first, hosted by John Dickerson, Emily Bazelon and David Plotz. Later, a Culture Gabfest was added. The sports podcast, Hangup and Listen, is the most recent addition. "Slate's Spoiler Special", reviews movies for people who have already seen them. By June 2012, Slate had 19 podcasts, with its Political Gabfest and Culture Gabfest the most popular.[15]

Slate podcasts have gotten longer over the years. The original Gabfest was 15 minutes; most are now about 45 minutes.[15] They are "a profitable part of the business"; Slate charges more for advertisement in podcasts than for any of its other content.[15]

Notable contributors and their departments

Other recurring features

Summary columns

  • Slatest (news aggregator)


  • The Vault, Slate's history blog

Past notable contributors


External links

  • Web site
  • French site
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