Washington Post Buys Slate.Com

Times Staff Writer

The owners of the Washington Post today said they had agreed to buy Slate.com, the pioneering online magazine that has struggled to translate its widely praised coverage and commentary into a financial success.

The Washington Post Co. said Jacob Weisberg will remain editor of the eight-year-old magazine, which will continue to be linked to Microsoft's heavily trafficked MSN web portal. The financial terms of the sale were not released.

"Slate has been a pioneer in internet publishing, and it is a fine magazine," said Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive officer of The Washington Post, in a statement. "We couldn't be more enthusiastic about this acquisition."

Microsoft and founding editor Michael Kinsley, who is now Editorial and Opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times, started Slate in 1996 as the giant software company explored ways to capitalize on the growing popularity of the Internet.

In November, Slate attracted six million viewers, according to Nielsen NetRatings. The website reportedly generates about $6 million in annual revenues and recently became profitable, according to company officials.

While it remains one of the Internet's most popular online journals, Slate's viewership and financial results were tiny compared to the rest of the MSN portal, which attracts about 360 million users a month, according to Microsoft. News that Microsoft put Slate up for sale surfaced in July and reportedly attracted interest from a handful of media companies including the Washington Post and New York Times.

"I couldn't be more excited about this move," said Weisberg, Slate's editor, in a statement. "Microsoft has been a wonderful home for us since 1996. It's clear, though, that The Washington Post Company is the best place for Slate to continue to grow and develop."

Slate joins the Washington Post Co.'s other websites, which include the online versions of the Washington Post newspaper and Newsweek magazine.

Slate, which will retain offices in New York and Washington, D.C. will operate as a unit of the Washington Post Newsweek Interactive. Cliff Sloan, vice president, business development and general counsel of WPNI, has been named publisher of Slate.

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