Microsoft to the market: Our slate is clean

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Kinsley's Web magazine will have `complete autonomy' of editorial, ads

By Bradley Johnson

Microsoft wants to clear its Slate of misconceptions.

Slate, an interactive magazine about U.S. politics and culture, bows on the Web June 24. But there's been no lack of criticism that the Web zine is ill-conceived and will be a virtual mouthpiece for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

Publisher John Williams dismisses the criticism.

"The magazine will speak for itself," he said.


Slate Editor Michael Kinsley, formerly of The New Republic, will have "the final word" on editorial with no influence from Microsoft management or, for that matter, advertisers, Mr. Williams said.

"There is no editorial review by [Microsoft] executives," said Mr. Williams. "Michael Kinsley has complete autonomy."

Mr. Williams, a former Microsoft marketing executive, said it's simply good business to keep a separation of church and state to develop "a premier brand" that attracts readers and advertisers.

Slate will be updated daily. There also will be a monthly "best of" print version, meant to reach PC owners who aren't yet on the Web.

Mr. Williams foresees a potential paid circulation for the Web and print versions of Slate of 100,000 to 300,000 over the next several years.


Slate will include "a few" paid advertisers at launch, said Steve Goldberg, Microsoft Network manager of advertising development and strategy. Microsoft is selling banners for 6.5 per impression; volume discounts could cut the price.

Microsoft has contracted with a service, believed to be Internet Profiles Corp., San Francisco, to audit traffic.

Microsoft will promote Slate with a print, TV, Web and direct mail campaign from Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco.

Critics' fears that Microsoft will meddle in Slate editorial "ignore the fact that the majority of journalism in the world today comes from brands that are owned by large companies," said Mr. Williams, noting NBC is owned by General Electric while Time Warner owns Time.

Microsoft has no journalistic legacy to draw upon. But Mr. Williams notes Microsoft has been "a content company" for 15 years, producing CD-ROM titles, computer books and, starting last year, online content.

Copyright June 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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