SLATE is owned by Microsoft Corp., and that bothers some people. Can a giant software company put out a magazine that is free to think for itself? All we can say is that Microsoft has made all the right noises on this subject, and we look forward to putting the company's hands-off commitment to the test. But the concern strikes me as misplaced. In a day of media conglomerates with myriad daily conflicts of interest--Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Disney-ABC--how can it be a bad thing for a new company to begin competing in the media business? A journalist who worries about Microsoft putting out a magazine is a journalist with a steady job.
Readers may also wonder whether SLATE will have a particular political flavor. The answer is that we do not set out with any ideological mission or agenda. On the other hand, we are not committed to any artificial balance of views. We will publish articles from various perspectives, but we will not agonize if the mix averages out to be somewhere other than dead center.
A good magazine, though, does develop a personality, an attitude, and some prejudices--even crotchets. A few of SLATE's are already becoming clear. In discussing current events, we have a preference for policy over politics. We'd rather discuss the effect of Bob Dole's tax-cut proposal on the economy than its effect on Bill Clinton. Within the policy arena, we seem to have a special fondness for economics. This was not planned; it's one of those serendipitous developments I mentioned. Whether it reflects good luck or bad luck is a matter of taste (yours).
Finally, we intend to take a fairly skeptical stance toward the romance and rapidly escalating vanity of cyberspace. We do not start out with the smug assumption that the Internet changes the nature of human thought, or that all the restraints that society imposes on individuals in "real life" must melt away in cyberia. There is a deadening conformity in the hipness of cyberspace culture in which we don't intend to participate. Part of our mission at SLATE will be trying to bring cyberspace down to earth.
Should be fun. Thanks for joining us.