Saving Salon, One Vulture at a Time

Salon Publisher David Talbot recently wrote that if each of the magazine's 53,000 subscribers found one person to join, it would reach a break-even point financially.

VultureI'm a premium subscriber, a fan of Salon Blogs, and a person who found my father's half-sister through its pages (Jodi Greenbaum wrote two remarkable essays about the grandfather I never met; he abandoned her during childhood after doing the same thing to my father and aunts a decade before).

I don't want to see the magazine follow Suck, Word, and Netly News into way-nu media heaven, so I'm going to buy a subscription for one person.

However, none of my friends and family do enough reading online to use it, so I'm picking another recipient:

I will buy a Salon subscription for one of the vultures who has circled the magazine for years in premature anticipation of its demise. The winner will be someone whose criticism of the publication is weirdly personal, unnaturally angry, outstandingly venomous, or ideally a combination of all three.

I'm going to collect a list of nominees here and then select five for a vote by Workbench visitors. If I've missed someone who deserves to be recognized, please let me know via e-mail or a comment to this page.

So far, here are the front-running buzzards:

Bill Herbert:

Salon readers are shallow assholes. I was glad Salon was tanking long before yesterday, and I don't think there's any doubt that they will go bankrupt. They won't be missed.

Brian Carnell:

Hmmm...let me get this straight Scott. Your pathetic excuse of an online rag can devote space to stories about people happy about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but you can't understand why we're all going to celebrate when Salon can't make its rent payment? Salon.Com failing to understand the appeal of cheap sensationalism? What's the world coming to! My take when Salon finally goes under,

"My wife and I were playing Jenga after Salon.Com collapsed. When the Jenga collapsed, I shouted "Scott Rosenberg." Then the second round of the game, we shouted, "John Dean Names Deep Throat -- Not!" Now we don't call it Jenga anymore. We call it the Fall of Salon."

Damian Penny:

Want to know why is on the verge of bankruptcy? Because it's run by people who'd publish something called "Forbidden thoughts about 9/11: the readers respond" on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks." ... Go bankrupt. Please.

Gerard van der Leun:

As long as Salon can keep coming up with punctured orthodoxies and really biting and incisive 'we loathe America' coverage like this, it will keep on impressing it's investor pool. Look for Silicon Valley and Hollywood money to keep "investing" as long as Salon can keep this up.

Ken Layne:

David Talbot and his Cash Incinerator have done more to destroy the future of independent publishing than any burst bubble or recession. Every year that thing remains "in business" is poison for anyone attempting to publish, whether on or offline. He was just a nobody features editor at a second-rate afternoon paper in a third-rate city. But through an incredible act of hucksterism and the blind following of the press (mostly Volvo Yuppies like himself), he first convinced investors that his little project was a Media Empire.

Richard Bennett:

[Scott] Rosenberg understands trends. He engineered Salon's acquisition of The Well, an on-line cult founded and shaped by refugees of Stephen Gaskin's The Farm cult in Tennessee. Rosenberg has been a member of The Well since 1990, according to Katie Hafner's account of the bizarre shenanigans that have taken place among the Wellberts for lo these many years.

Like Gaskin, [Dave] Winer is a powerful and polarizing figure, and Rosenberg loves to bask in the glow of such people. Unlike Gaskin, the Well's spiritual founder, Winer doesn't seem to have too many nefarious plans, bastard children, kidnapped children, or suicidal corpses lying around him, so the worst aspect of the Winer/Wellbert partnership is what happens to subscribers when Salon finally goes out of business, which many suspect will happen in a few weeks. Presumably they can continue blogging on Winer's iron, but Salon hasn't clarified this to their potential customers.

Incidentally, I tried The Well for a few weeks, but they banned me for being a cult-buster, and banned my wife, a long-term member, for being married to me. Strange group, the Wellberts.

Robert Loch:

Personally, I just do not see any brilliance, any half decent hack could have produce a rocking publication with such a vast amount of IPO cash available to burn. What a farce, what a waste of money, what a waste of talent and more to the point, what a waste of an incredible investor funded opportunity. I, for one, will not mourn their passing.

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