Slate is an 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 December 21, 2004, it was purchased by the Washington Post Company. Since June 4, 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.
Since June 2008, David Plotz has served as the editor of Slate. 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. The Washington Post Company's John Alderman is Slate's publisher. Slate which is updated daily, covers politics, arts and culture, sports, and news. It is ad-supported and has been available to read free of charge since 1999.
Slate features a set of online forums called "The Fray", the editing and moderator duties of which are left up to a "Fray Editor."
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 didn't 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, Salon.com, in April 2001.
On July 15, 2005, Slate began offering a podcast, featuring selected stories from the site read by Slate editor Andy Bowers. Another podcast, featuring the Explainer column, was later added, read by Slate foreign editor June Thomas. A third, called "Slate's Spoiler Special," reviews movies for people who have already seen them.
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 10th anniversary, Slate unveiled a redesigned website. In 2007, it introduced "Slate V" , an online video magazine with content that relates to or expands upon their written articles.
Slate's focus and editorial slant is politically liberal, as seen in choice of columnists, choice of and position on topics, and featured cartoon, Doonesbury. During the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, a significant majority of staff and contributors supported Democratic challenger John Kerry.
A more fine-grained analysis puts Slate slightly to the left of The New Republic, but still to the right of Salon.com or The Nation. It includes many voices of the Clintonian / Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) / neoliberal point of view. These include two of its bloggers: Mickey Kaus, whose favorite subjects include welfare reform and the potential for a future candidate from either party to reap major political gains by taking a law-and-order stance on immigration issues; and Bruce Reed, President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, and current president of the DLC. Jack Shafer, one of its top editors, has stated that he has voted for the Libertarian Party candidate for President in every election since he became eligible to vote. (One unusual feature of the magazine is that it explicitly states its staff's biases, going so far as to publish the presidential votes of individual staff members and writers.) Slate frequently publishes columns that advocate a neoclassical view of economics, for example articles by professors Paul Krugman, Steven Landsburg, and Tim Harford, who embrace capitalism despite their general left-of-center political alignment.
On the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Slate took a "liberal hawk" perspective, as represented in the contributions of Christopher Hitchens, William Saletan, Michael Kinsley, Anne Applebaum, and others. Timothy Noah is the only full-time Slate staffer who initially opposed the invasion, and even he was briefly persuaded to abandon his relatively dovish position by Colin Powell. In the years since the occupation began, however, the magazine has been increasingly critical of its management, most strongly in Fred Kaplan's "War Stories" column.