June 24 marked Slate's first anniversary. The occasion was celebrated, here in Redmond, with a gala black-tie dinner and a nude "fun run" around the Microsoft campus. It was declared a national holiday in several states of the former Soviet Union (for a small fee). The new government of Congo issued a stamp (ditto). And in Mexico, criminals were released from prison in a general amnesty for plagiarists and other violators of intellectual-property rights.
Do we deserve such honors? On balance, we think we do. The first year has, of course, brought both successes and disappointments. On the positive side, we have transformed the nature of journalism, morally vindicated the World Wide Web, vastly enriched the Microsoft Corp., captured Pol Pot, and learned the correct spellings of many difficult words. On the downside, we did get it slightly wrong about the senator's love child (grandchild, love child ... it's an easy mistake to make). There was the unfortunate occasion when we accidentally (albeit repeatedly) linked the word "Netscape" to a site for devil worshipers. That litigation with Mother Teresa remains unresolved, although Microsoft's lawyers believe our offer of free Flight SimulatorTM software upgrades was more than generous. Our RealOdorTM streaming olfactory feature does not as yet work as well as we had hoped, frankly. (We're talking to the people at StenchMaster about a new strategic alliance.)
One year! We asked Bill Gates how Slate should mark this historic occasion. He said, "Give the whole staff enormous raises." It was, of course, a characteristically insightful suggestion, brilliantly slicing through to the heart of the strategic challenge we face at the close of the second millennium. But our publisher, Rogers Weed, was deeply offended by the idea. "That guy seems to think money grows on trees," he complained. And so, displaying the kind of corporate independence our many enemies think us incapable of, we told Mr. Gates his idea sucked. (Well, actually, we told him that Rogers thought his idea sucked.) As an alternative to Gates' suggestion we have put together a special selection of Slate articles published during our first year. We all agree that perusing some of the highlights from a year of Slate is far more pleasurable than a large raise. But try it and judge for yourself.
Black and White and Read Online
We inaugurate a new feature this week called "Today's Papers." To be updated daily (six days a week), it is a summary and instant analysis of the lead stories in five major U.S. newspapers: the New York Times, the WashingtonPost, the WallStreetJournal, USAToday, and the Los Angeles Times. The author, Los Angeles writer Scott Shuger, will report what the papers chose as the day's big stories, assess how they played those stories (both placement and content), and tell us about any exclusives or unique pieces. Today's Papers will, of course, link where possible to the full stories on these newspapers' own Web sites.
We aim to post Today's Papers by 12 a.m. Pacific Time (3 a.m. Eastern Time) on the day of publication, Sunday through Friday. So if you're one of those people who doesn't bother to get five newspapers home delivered each morning, go to www.slate.com for a quick briefing before you face the world so you can embarrass less informed friends and colleagues throughout the day.
Too many people, we regret to report, are attempting to read Slate without the proper equipment. The proper equipment, according to the Webzine Safety Task Force of the American Academy of Internet Bores (AAIB), is a Slate T-shirt and matching baseball cap. Attempting to access Slate while improperly dressed can lead to slow download time and even, in some cases, to the implosion of your computer. Please take a few moments to order the appropriate gear, directly from the Web (scroll right to find the Slate stuff) or, if you still use one of those old telephone things, by calling 800-380-3180 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).
Resting on Our Laurels
In honor of Slate's first birthday, as well as the United States of America's 221st, Slate will not publish next week. The site, of course, will still be available, including all current contents, "The Compost," and "The Fray." Today's Papers will be updated daily throughout the week. And there may even be the occasional "Dialogue" entry or "Chatterbox" item. You never know. But Slate's editors and staff will be spending the week in various mountain retreats, perfecting the spiritual arts of transcendental meditation and HTML coding. Regular posting of new material will resume the evening of Monday, July 7.