Jacob's Ladder

'Slate' Editor Has Millions of Eyeballs to Feed

Weisberg conducts two weekly edit meetings on a conference call, but for the most part, he says, "the magazine is like a cocktail party on e-mail." Because editors can post text continuously, with an average of a dozen new entries a day, writers are drawn by what he calls the "immediate gratification." With light editing and zero fact-checking, "the piece is out as soon as you can articulate the point."

Weisberg cited as recent favorites Heffernan on TV, Dahlia Lithwick on the Supreme Court, William Saletan on business scandals, and Melinda Henneberger on her priest, an alleged child abuser. "It was like kismet," he said of Henneberger's unsolicited entry. "The piece was in my inbox one day, and it was our cover story that night."

Aside from tapping the "speed and spontaneity" of the Web to produce Slate's trademark news analysis, Weisberg wants Slate to offer more interactive features, which he says will not be "just bells and whistles for the sake of bells and whistles." Thus, Plotz is working on a game board to explain the latest crop of business scandals. And through hyperlinks, readers can now watch the ad or listen to the CD under review. Food and wine features are in the offing, and by September, Slate will debut a 10-day travel feature for which the writer will file daily dispatches and digital photos in real time. One likely destination: Kashmir.

Being editor of Slate has one downside for Weisberg—he hasn't published anything since taking the job. Asked about the book he is ghostwriting with former treasury secretary Robert Rubin, he said, "I'm going to spend my vacation in August working on it," adding, "Thankfully, the end is in sight." After that, his future at Slate stretches out like an endless summer.


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