When Smart Websites Don’t Do So Hot

by Liz Colville

Salon is reportedly looking for a buyer, or someone to merge with, according to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal. It being the tail-end of the recession, this isn’t that surprising, but the fact that it isn’t surprising is sad: enough of quality websites having financial problems while gossip-ridden glorified link farms rake in millions, but wow, I feel like an idiot for even voicing that very obvious concern.

Salon has lost about $15 million in the past five years, “with nearly a third of that coming in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010.” To merge or be acquired wouldn’t be so difficult: it would hopefully give the site breathing room to remain admirably true to its namesake (pictured) and produce high-quality content on topics like politics, books, and film. The real problem is that the site has decided, according to the WSJ report, to focus more on “lifestyle” content to please advertisers and presumably prospective buyers.

Does anyone else just want to die upon hearing the word “lifestyle”? Salon’s Broadsheet section and its personal essays do pretty much fall into this category, but my fear is that “lifestyle” will become a euphemism for the inanity that has filled so many non-Salon, non-”renegade” websites. Salon was there before this all got so out of hand, and they’ve refused to go where so many other websites have gone (down into the gutter). There’s no doubt Salon could do lifestyle well, but “well,” as we know, isn’t something that a lot of advertisers or readers really care about.

“Publish crap every ten minutes or perish,” is the motto that fills so many of us Internet peeps’ nightmares. So, I don’t know, does Kickstarter, speaking of good things that exist on the Internet, have a maximum goal amount?

Photo: Abraham Bosse’s Salon des Dames, via Wikipedia