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March 7, 2006
Salon Sells Out Troops To Boost Subscriptions

The online magazine Salon has had some tough times making it as a subscriber publication in a medium that prizes open-source sensibilities. It has had to force nonsubscribers to sit through tedious advertising before allowing them to read its nondescript essays, which don't have any more inherent quality than the volumes of essays more readily available at other publications. Even its one innovative nod to the blogosphere, Peter Daou's The Daou Report, violates the free and easily-networked nature of its target audience.

Apparently all of this has left Salon struggling for revenue from its readership. NZ Bear at the Truth Laid Bear, once a subscriber himself, reports on the latest effort at luring former subscribers back to the fold -- by promising to run hundreds of additional photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib:

Dear former Salon Premium member,

Three weeks ago, Salon released 18 photos from Abu Ghraib prison that had never been publicly available, along with documentation of the Army's own investigation into the disturbing images. Reaction was swift and strong; some accused us of undermining American interests, while others took us to task for not publishing every image in our possession. Most feedback praised our decision to highlight a scandal that's been largely underreported by the mainstream media.

We're planning to release hundreds more photos taken inside Abu Ghraib. Using information found in a U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) report and other sources, our news team is cataloging each image so we may provide captions that offer critical context. Our goal is to publish newsworthy pictures that haven't been widely seen before, providing the best information that the CID investigation materials could offer.

I'm contacting you and other former Salon Premium members to make sure these photos reach a large audience. Your expired Premium membership supported our ongoing mission to speak truth to power, but we need your help again now.

I'd like to urge you to renew your Premium membership now through this link to give us the support we need to continue this important work...

As we create an Abu Ghraib archive, we will aim to shed light on what the administration has determined to keep dark. In giving the American electorate the information it needs, we'll try to provide some of the transparency our government has so sorely lacked.

We'll do our job with integrity and diligence. That, of course, takes time. So thanks for your patience, your trust, and your support.


Joan Walsh
Editor in chief, Salon

I can think of no better reason to avoid Salon like the plague, and no better example of its twisted editorial policy. The Abu Ghraib story is over two years old now. The press on this story gave it hysterical treatment in 2004 when Mary Mapes and 60 Minutes first published the photos and the story, while neglecting to mention that the Army had already launched extensive investigations into the abuse at the prison. The scandal got months of coverage as the media used the abuses as a template for the entire management of the war, even though it involved a small number of undisciplined idiots that received jail sentences for their crimes.

Now, two years later, Salon proposes to run "hundreds" more of the pictures. Why? Certainly not to enlighten its readers; the Abu Ghraib abuses have received an overwhelming amount of attention already. While Salon refuses to publish the Prophet cartoons that might actually clarify and provide context to a story that happened within the last few weeks, it insists that dredging up more pictorial depictions of the actions of a few depraved individuals from over two years ago -- who have all been tried for their offenses -- has actual value.

And that value is the $35 per year per subscriber they hope to capture by dangling this sick porn as an attraction.

And note that while their lengthy essay on their insistence on publishing even more of the same crap we've already seen claims a high-minded motivation to tell the truth about the Bush administration, the editors appear willing to "hide" the truth unless it gets enough subscribers to fund its mission. It recalls the pathetic and widely-scorned efforts of Oral Roberts to garner millions in donations to stave off the Lord's call to bring him home and to fund his new college.

The only value left in these pictures is their ability to inflame, and once again we have the parallel of the Prophet cartoons. Salon's reluctance to publish them supposedly involves their inflammatory and offensive nature. Yet Salon has no problem reminding the Muslim world that a few American soldiers engaged in graphic and sick abuse of their Muslim prisoners, which puts the rest of our troops -- almost all of which have abused no one -- at risk for more retaliations, if it means they can sell a few more subscriptions.

If nothing else, this editorial decision-making shows clearly why Salon's execs have to beg former subscribers to return, to extort cybersurfers to watch ads before accessing its site, and why they have to offer the sick tittilation of abuse photos to gain attention. Salon doesn't need more subscribers. It needs a real editor who understands what "news" means.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 7, 2006 8:25 PM

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Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters reports a very interesting effort by Salon online magazine to boost its subscriptions by offering more glimpses of abuse from Abu Ghraib prison, a now over-2-year-old story.The only value left in these pictures is their [Read More]

Tracked on March 8, 2006 6:30 AM


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