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Slate (magazine)

Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Online magazine
Registration Optional for commenting only
Owner The Slate Group
Created by Michael Kinsley
Editor Julia Turner
Alexa rank
11px 596 (April 2014)[1]
Current status Active

Slate is an English-language online current affairs and culture magazine in the United States 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 Graham Holdings 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]

In July 2014, Julia Turner replaced David Plotz who had been editor of Slate since 2008.[2][5] Plotz 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. According to Turner, the magazine is "not fundamentally a breaking news source", but rather aimed at helping readers to "analyze and understand and interpret the world" with witty and entertaining writing.[7] Slate is known (and sometimes criticized) for adopting contrarian positions, giving rise to the term "Slate Pitches".[8][9][10] 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. Around 2010, the magazine also began running long-form journalism. Many of the longer stories are an outgrowth of the "Fresca Fellowships", so-called because former editor Plotz liked 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.[11]

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.[citation needed] The model did not work; in February 1999, Slate returned to free content, citing both sluggish subscription sales and increased advertising revenue.[citation needed] 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.

File:Slate screenshot.png
The design of Slate‍ '​s homepage from 2006 to 2013
In June 2006, on its tenth anniversary, Slate unveiled a redesigned website. In 2007, it introduced "Slate V",[12] 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.[13]

In 2012, Slate launched the Slate Book Review, a monthly books section edited by Dan Kois.[14]

In 2013, Slate became profitable after preceding years had seen layoffs and falling ad revenues.[7]

In 2014, Slate introduced a paywall system called "slate plus" featuring ad-free podcasts as well as some bonus materials.

Reputation for counterintuitive arguments ("Slate pitches")

Since at least 2006,[9] Slate has been known for publishing contrarian pieces arguing against commonly held views about a subject, giving rise to the #slatepitches Twitter hashtag in 2009.[10] The Columbia Journalism Review has defined Slate pitches as "an idea that sounds wrong or counterintuitive proposed as though it were the tightest logic ever" and explained their success as follows: "Readers want to click on Slate Pitches because they want to know what a writer could possibly say that would support their logic".[15] In 2014, Slate‍ '​s editor-in-chief Julia Turner acknowledged that a reputation for counterintuitive arguments forms part of Slate's "distinctive" brand, but argued that the hashtag misrepresents the site's journalism: "We are not looking to argue that up is down and black is white for the sake of being contrarian against all logic or intellectual rigor. But journalism is more interesting when it surprises you either with the conclusions that it reaches or the ways that it reaches them."[7]


Slate has been involved in podcasts "almost from the very beginning" of the medium (according to Nieman Lab), beginning to offer a podcast on July 15, 2005[16] that featured selected stories from the site read by Andy Bowers, who had joined Slate after leaving NPR in 2003.[17][18]

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.[17] In February 2015, they numbered around 14, receiving 6 million downloads per month.[18]

Slate podcasts have gotten longer over the years. The original Gabfest was 15 minutes; by 2012, most were about 45 minutes.[17] They are "a profitable part of the business"; Slate charges more for advertisement in podcasts than for any of its other content.[17]

Notable contributors and their departments

Other recurring features

Summary columns

  • Slatest (news aggregator)


  • The Vault, Slate's history blog
  • Future Tense, a technology blog produced as part of a partnership between Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University
  • Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog
  • Outward, Slate's LGBTQ blog
  • Wild Things, Slate's animals blog
  • Behold, Slate's photo blog
  • The World, a blog about foreign affairs
  • Moneybox, Slate's business and economics blog
  • XX Factor, a blog about women's issues
  • Lexicon Valley, a blog about language
  • The Eye, a design blog
  • Crime, a crime blog

Past notable contributors

Company overview

Key executives


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Washington Post Company Announces The Slate Group". Washington Post. 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  3. ^ "Interview: Jacob Weisberg, Chairman, Slate Group: Breaking Out of the Beltway". CBS News. 15 February 2009. 
  4. ^ " Jean-Marie Colombani à l'assaut du Web, actualité Tech & Net – Le Point" (in French). February 10, 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  5. ^ David Plotz (2014-07-14). "David Plotz Says Goodbye". Slate. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  6. ^ Who We Are (Slate staff portraits) Accessed April 11, 2008
  7. ^ a b c Levy, Nicole (September 30, 2014). "Long-serving deputy Julia Turner takes the reins at Slate". Capital New York. 
  8. ^ "Contrarianism's end?". The Economist. 19 October 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Weisberg, Jacob (19 June 2006). "What Makes Slate Slatey?". Slate. To be a Slatey writer, you must cut through the media welter [...] This can be done in a number of ways. [One] is to make the contrarian case that all the common assumptions about a subject are simply and hopelessly wrong. 
  10. ^ a b Coscarelli, Joe (23 October 2009). "Slate’s Contrarian Ways Mocked On Twitter". Mediate. 
  11. ^ Tyranny, The (April 4, 2011). "Slate of Mind: Q&A with David Plotz". Sparksheet. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  12. ^ "Home". SlateV. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  13. ^ "ASME". Press release. Retrieved 2013-04-28. [dead link]
  14. ^ Bosman, Julie (March 1, 2012). "Slate to Begin a Monthly Review of Books". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  15. ^ Goldenberg, Kira (October 16, 2014). "Stop trolling your readers". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  16. ^ "Slate's Podcasting Guide". Slate. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d Phelps, Andrew (June 4, 2012). "Slate doubles down on podcasts, courting niche audiences and happy advertisers". Nieman Journalism Lab. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  18. ^ a b Owens, Simon (February 6, 2015). "Slate’s podcast audience has tripled in a year, and its bet on audio over video continues to pay off". NiemanLab. 
  19. ^ "Company Overview of Slate Magazine". Bloomberg Businessweek. 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 

External links