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Posts Tagged ‘David Plotz’

Slate Launches Paid Membership Plan

Slate Plus, the paid membership from Slate, is officially live. The first thing you should know about Slate Plus is that it’s not a paywall. The site will remain completely free. You won’t be asked to pay up once you read a certain number of articles. Slate Plus is — like the name suggests — Slate, but with more.

Readers can pay $5 a month or $50 a year for Slate Plus, which offers ad-free podcasts, non-paginated articles, an improved commenting system, access to Slate events and more.

We think Slate Plus is a great idea. It’s not going to alienate anyone who normally would read the site, like paywalls sometimes do. Instead, Slate is simply taking advantage of those who are open to paying for an upgraded experience.

“Are we asking you for money? Yes! We’re asking Slate Plus members to pay us $5 a month or $50 a year to gain access to a richer, smoother Slate experience,” wrote Slate’s editor, David Plotz. “We at Slate have always prided ourselves in experimenting with new kinds of journalism. It’s been equally important to us to experiment with new business models for journalism.”

Interested in Slate Plus? You can try it free for 14 days.

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Slate Introduces Paid Membership Plan

There’s paywalls and metered paywalls, and then there’s Slate Plus, the new membership plan from Slate. The New York Times reports that Slate readers can subscribe to the plan — which will give them special access to the site’s writers, ad-free podcasts, and admission to live events — for $5 a month or $50 a year.

Slate Plus is unique in that the entire website will remain free. It’s a smart idea because Slate is keeping casual readers’ attention, but tempting their most dedicated fans with a paid product.

David Plotz, Slate’s editor-in-chief, said Slate Plus was a natural move for the site. “Advertising remains central to our success, but we think we’d be better off if we were less dependent on it,” he told the Times. “We also think it’s important to give readers a stake in the journalism they value, which is why we’re asking them to pay for membership.”

Slate Plus launches tomorrow.

Jack Shafer Edits Wisely

Jack Shafer GJack Shafer is currently a columnist at Reuters, but years ago, he was the editor of Washington City Paper. According to David Plotz, Slate’s editor, Shafer was quite blunt when it came to revisions.

Plotz told Digiday the following:

When I got my first journalism job at the Washington City Paper in 1993, I was not a good reporter and I was not a good writer. I turned in a long feature about a neighborhood fight over a power plant to the editor, Jack Shafer. Jack looked at the story, then ran a global search-and-replace on the document, swapping out every single ‘is’ and ‘are’ with the word ‘fuck.’ He told me: Don’t come back until you have replaced every fuck with an active verb. That was great advice for a young writer and reporter, and it made for one aggro story.

Words — or, word — to live by.

Slate Gets a Redesign

If you visit Slate today, you’ll notice that the site has undergone a massive revamp. Slate has discarded its old look that featured a carousel of big stories for a slew of articles organized by sections and writers. On the right readers can find the most recently published pieces. Images are larger and Slate now uses responsive design.

One of the goals of the update was to clean everything up. “Over the years a website can become encrusted with gunk: Modules and widgets and text links and boxes wedge their way into every corner of the site,” explained Slate’s editor, David Plotz, in a note about the changes. “We wanted to start over and try a cleaner approach that would make a Slate page feel like a calm oasis in the helter-skelter of the Web.”

The thing is, this new Slate feels more cluttered than ever. There are more articles to identify when you go to the homepage, and we found the way things were organized to be confusing.

On the bright side, we do love the way articles look; that’s definitely an upgrade. The headline stands out more and the font is much easier on the eyes.

Overall though, Slate’s new look somehow leaves us underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time.

Slate to Stop Referring to Washington Redskins as ‘Redskins’

Any rational human realizes that the Washington Redskins’ nickname is racist. Even Redskins great Art Monk said it shouldn’t be used. However, Daniel Syder, the Redskins’ terrible owner and renowned idiot, has said he won’t get rid of the offensive word. Faced with this, Slate has decided to do it for him. Today will be the last day “Redskins” is published on the site.

In an essay, Slate’s publisher — David Plotz — writes about the decision to ban “Redskins:”

Changing how you talk changes how you think. The adoption of the term ‘African-American’—replacing ‘Negro’ and ‘colored’ —in the aftermath of the civil rights movement brought a welcome symmetry with Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans, groups defined by geographic origin rather than by race or color. Replacing ‘same-sex marriage’ with ‘marriage equality’ helped make gay marriage a universal cause rather than a special pleading. If Slate can do a small part to change the way people talk about the team, that will be enough.

While some will undoubtedly call this Slate being Slate (being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian) we applaud the move. Maybe one day Snyder will do the same, but we won’t be holding our breath.

How Slate First Came Up with the Idea of Aggregation

If you want someone to blame for aggregation, it might be Slate. As editor David Plotz has discussed in the past, Slate “actually pioneered” the aggregation type of web journalism with its Today’s Papers, which has since morphed into The Slatest. So this is all Slate’s fault! (Also, as FishbowlNY is itself an aggregation site, thank you!)

Plotz gives an interview to Columbia Journalism Review where he explains a bit about how the whole aggro-craze got started. Interesting fact: Slate’s first aggregator was almost the most successful traffic-driver in the business, Matt Drudge.

“Today’s Papers” started, I believe, a year after we launched, in 1997… We actually asked Matt Drudge to do it, but Drudge recommended Scott [Shuger]. But in fact, in our very first issue, the very first thing we did was, we had a column called “In Other Magazines,” which I wrote. That was an aggregation of what was in the main print magazines. The notion was, we would read Time and Newsweek and all the others so you wouldn’t have to bother…

So we were doing aggregation right from the very first day of Slate… But “Today’s Papers” became the most important and best version of that in the first years of Slate… It was never simply an act of finding the one story on the front page of the Times and summarizing it; it was about contrasting how news coverage was happening in different papers.

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Even Slate Editor David Plotz Thinks Aggregation Is “Important”

Slate editor David Plotz gave an in-depth interview to Sparksheet about how Slate manages to navigate its way through the seedy world of content farms, SEO, and aggregation, while remaining an “online magazine.”

We were intrigued by this, mostly because we are sort of curious as to what an “online magazine” really is, and what makes them better than mere websites or blogs. This is how Plotz defines them:

[T]here are magazines, such as Slate, that publish at a pace that makes them much more like daily newspapers, and there are websites like the Huffington Post, which occupy lots of different niches all at once…

Within that universe, Slate has certain distinguishing qualities that have to do with sensibility. It’s a place that aspires to do very intelligent, witty, important, and entertaining journalism about the news of the day. We’re not primarily a commodity news site…

Something about Plotz’s definition of an “online magazine,” apart from the rate of content it puts out, still suggests that the label has more to do with an assumption of quality rather than pure form.  After all, as addressed in the interview itself, Slate has “actually pioneered” the aggregation type of web journalism with its Today’s Papers, which has since morphed into The Slatest.

Plotz agrees that aggregation remains “important,” and “there’s a lot of stuff that Slate does that is built around aggregation and curation.”

Ah, curation. Another lofty new label. As far as we can tell, “curation” is to “aggregation” like “online magazine” is to “blog.”

What Do You Think Of Slatest?

slatest.jpgThe New York Times reported last night that — starting this morning — Slate.com is replacing its “Today’s Papers” aggregator with a new “Slatest” feature that will collect news three times a day.

Slate’s editor David Plotz told Brian Stelter that the “Today’s Papers” format was outdated and the online publication had started discussing a year ago how to change and update it:

“In an editorial meeting, Jack Shafer, the media columnist for Slate, observed that the news cycle had three distinct parts: an overnight shift led by newspapers, a daytime phase when other news media entities react to the overnight news, and an afternoon phase when, as Mr. Plotz put it, ‘the day’s news events break and are digested.’”

Today, Plotz wrote about the history of “Today’s Papers,” which says good-bye today, along with the site’s “In Other Magazine” feature. He also explains why the site decided to make the change. “‘Today’s Papers’ was hilariously backward by contemporary standards,” Plotz said. “The authors originally collected front pages by fax from newspapers that barely had online editions. (Our first ‘Today’s Papers’ didn’t even have links.)”

But despite the long-running column’s success and devotion from readers, “We saw a need for a new kind of aggregator, one that was intelligent, witty, entertaining, fast, comprehensive, and responsive to the new news cycle. So we created it,” Plotz said.

So we wanted to know, if you got your daily news round-up from Slate’s “Today’s Papers” how do you feel about the first reveal of Slatest?


What do you think about Slate’s new aggregator Slatest?(opinion)

David Plotz’s Book Party: Have You Read The Good Book Lately?

gd book.pngHave you read the bible? This was perhaps the most frequent question bandied about at last night’s book party for David Plotz‘s Good Book held at the Tribeca home of Jacob Weisberg and Deborah Needleman.

Plotz, you may recall, blogged his way through the Old Testament of the bible for Slate, and subsequently turned the series into a book. We caught up with Plotz and asked him what book of the bible was most suited to blogging. Plotz says that while the Book of Ruth was his favorite to read, Judges was by far the best to blog…something to do with all that violence.

The party pulled a good crowd despite the terrible weather. We managed to spot A.J. Jacobs, Double X’s Jess Grose (who just saw her own book hit shelves), Big Money’s Elinor Shields, Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici, WWD’s Irin Carmon, Michael Crowley, and Rachel Sklar (who provide the pics for this post). Rumor has it Victoria Floethe was also present. Rumor also has is that on top of the Slate napkins there were also umbrellas, though we didn’t spot any ourselves and(!) that Eliot Spitzer had made an appearance earlier in the night. More pics after the jump (though sadly none of Spitzer).

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