We’ve always has a soft spot for newsworthy (pun intended) online publications—so it’s no surprise that we read today’s headlines about Salon with a bit of chagrin. The San Francisco-based “Internet roundtable” has long been in the red—with losses of $15 million dollars in the past three years alone—but now the Wall Street Journal reports (a paid content item quickly picked up by the New York Observer) that the company is searching for a larger media company to partner with or to subsume its enterprises. While possible pairings that emerge during heroic acts of desperation (remember John Candy and Eugene Levy in Armed and Dangerous?) can be surprisingly generative (this past April, Salon formed a content-based micro-partnership with the popular literary independent McSweeney’s), it’s the changing circumstances, audiences, and even our clinical understanding around how we receive and are informed by the news that are applying pressure to traditional journalistic practices.
Salon has transformed itself quite a bit during its twelve-year run, from an innovative online news site helmed by information-driven posts and public forum op-eds to a more lifestyle-inclusive, audience-driven . . . well, salon. Experiments with subscription-based content have faltered and pushed them further into the red, . . .