Salon.com turns 20

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The trailblazing web site Salon.com celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. I was proud to have been on staff for its debut in November 1995, and it was my regular gig until 2001. From the beginning, traditional media didn’t know what to make of this “left-coast, interactive version of The New Yorker,” as Rolling Stone called us in 1996. Since we actually did think of ourselves as a left-coast, interactive version of The New Yorker, the line felt like a compliment — as long as we ignored the rest of the review, which likened Salon (then called “Salon1999,” because we had not yet been able to wrest the Salon.com domain away from its owner) to the doomed “flying boats” at the dawn of commercial air travel in the 1920s.

Salon’s demise was predicted early and often. And yet, it’s 2015 and Salon lives on. Sadly, a lot of the content from its early years as a webzine has vanished into the ether. It’s still possible to find early issues (Salon published weekly at first) via the Internet Archive, but it takes some sleuthing. [The Internet Archive is in the process of building a search engine for the Wayback Machine, but it won’t be ready until 2017.]

I was Salon’s TV critic from 1995-01, which coincided with some great television; I was privileged to have been able to write frequently about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, NYPD Blue and arguably the finest cop drama in TV history, NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street, which was adapted from David (The Wire) Simon’s true stories from Baltimore’s homicide squad.

The first piece I ever wrote for Salon (it ran in the startup issue on Nov. 13, 1995) was about Homicide. The link is gone now, but, pack-rat that I am, I saved hard copies of all my pieces. I guess I didn’t totally trust this Internet thing to be around forever. I’ve scanned the column and posted it below; I’ll try to post others from time to time. For me, Salon was an exciting leap into the unknown. I’m glad it outlived its obituaries.

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© Joyce Millman, The Mix Tape, 2015