The Slate family is getting bigger, and consquently, a restructuring is in order! David Plotz, longtime deputy for the thinky, contrarian Web magazine, is becoming the new chief editor of the site. He’ll be the third editor of the 12-year-old site, succeeding Jacob Weisberg who succeeded Michael Kinsley. Weisberg will now oversee all the Slate Web sites in a role not dissimilar to Jim Kelly’s current role at Time Life.
"I’ll be in charge of what we do: who works for us, who writes for us, how we cover it," said Mr. Plotz to Media Mob today.
Plotz has been with Slate since before it launched in 1996, and has been its deputy editor since 2003. He’s not entirely unfamiliar with the roles of top editor: when Weisberg went on book leave last spring, Plotz took over his duties. And he’s got ideas for the site.
"I think the lesson I’ve drawn from is Slate can’t live simply on daily commentary alone," he said. "That’s a huge part of what we are, but we also need to create long-form, heavily Webby journalism in a consistent way. It’s not just that you’re going to come to us for a great 800-word Christopher Hitchens piece or Jack Shafer’s best piece about Murdoch, but we’ll also need larger projects that can use the Web in an experimental way."
For example! When he was reporting on the Nobel Prize sperm bank a few years ago, he started with a request to readers: send me tips if you know anything. And slowly they came trickling in–a donor here, a daughter of a Prize winner there–and soon enough, he had a very big story, and then a book contract.
Weisberg, meanwhile, will oversee the entire Slate family, which includes Slate.com, their video site SlateV, theroot.com, and their new business site The Big Money.
An announcement just went out to staff, and here’s the press release:
The Washington Post Company Announces The Slate Group
New Online Publishing Unit Led By Slate Editor Jacob Weisberg and Slate Publisher John Alderman
Includes Slate Magazine, TheRoot.com, The Big Money, Among Other Ventures
David Plotz Becomes Editor of Slate
WASHINGTON, June 5, 2008—Washington Post Company CEO Donald Graham today announced the creation of The Slate Group, a new online publishing entity that will oversee Slate Magazine, Slate V, TheRoot.com and The Big Money, a business site launching later this year.
The Slate Group’s mission is to develop and manage a family of web-only magazines. These may include additional spin-offs from Slate, new ventures, and acquisitions.
Slate’s Editor Jacob Weisberg, who has been instrumental in launching new sites at the Post Company, becomes Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group, overseeing overall editorial and creative direction. Slate Publisher John Alderman will lead the business side of The Slate Group, adding the title of General Manager to his current responsibilities.
With Weisberg’s new leadership role, former Deputy Editor David Plotz becomes Editor of Slate Magazine, which the Washington Post Company purchased from Microsoft in 2005.
“In its three and half years here, Slate has shown that it can be a great business as well as a distinctive voice within the media,” said Graham. “I have every confidence that Jacob and John will continue to build on Slate’s success by expanding our portfolio of Internet publications.”
“The Slate Group is an Internet start-up within the framework of an existing media company,” said Weisberg. “The writers and editors here have over 250 years of combined experience producing Internet-only media. In expanding into new areas, we intend to draw on everything that we’ve learned collectively about what works on the Web.”
“In addition to breaking new ground for online journalism, Slate has been a leader in developing creative solutions for our advertisers,” says Alderman. “The Slate Group will continue that tradition by serving as a hub where journalism, technology, and innovative business models come together.”
With this change, David Plotz becomes the third Editor of Slate, following Weisberg, who became editor in 2002, and founding Editor Michael Kinsley. Plotz, who is 38, has been with the magazine since its founding in 1996, serving in a variety of capacities including Deputy Editor for the past several years. He has won numerous awards for his writing and is also the author of the book The Genius Factory, which was published by Random House in 2005.
“The choice of successor was an easy one,” said Weisberg. “As I’ve been drawn more into new ventures, David has been assuming more and more control over Slate’s daily operations. He is a brilliant journalist who has the respect and affection of everyone here. I know he is going to do a splendid job as editor.” “Under Michael Kinsley and Jacob Weisberg, Slate has been intellectually curious, daring, honest, and funny,” Plotz said. “I want to make sure Slate remains a pioneer in web journalism, and that it keeps growing and evolving as the internet changes.”
The Slate Group will work closely with Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), which provides advertising sales, technology, and marketing services to Slate and The Root.