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Salon.com shaves pay, pauses audio plans

The Internet magazine trims employee salaries and postpones some audio plans in a continuing effort to brace itself against the dot-com downturn.

Internet magazine Salon.com said Tuesday that it has trimmed employee salaries and postponed some audio plans in a continuing effort to brace itself against the dot-com downturn.

The site, which has drawn critical acclaim for writing several cuts above most Web content, has struggled during the past year to appease shareholders and investors. Despite breaking many stories about scandals surrounding the Clinton impeachment and winning numerous awards for its feature writing, the site, like many Internet publishers, has never turned a profit.

"We're doing everything we need to do to become profitable in what's become a very lousy ad market," Salon.com spokeswoman Dayna Macy said. "These are tough times."

Macy said the company is still on track to break even sometime this year. To that end, Salon is implementing pay cuts in the neighborhood of 15 percent for some employees. It also has cut at least three people from its yet-to-be-launched radio show. Several of them were new hires.

In late January, the company said it would launch a new weekly radio program in March that would be broadcast on more than 100 Public Radio International-affiliated stations. At the time, the company said it would bring its Web content to the airwaves in a move that "opens up a valuable new revenue stream." But those plans have since been put on hold, Macy said, because "the pilot wasn't up to our standards." Salon may revive the show eventually.

This week's cuts come as shares in many technology companies are hitting record lows and the Nasdaq has plunged to late-1998 levels, erasing most of the dot-com bubble.

Salon has gone through several rounds of cutbacks in the face of an ailing advertising market and plummeting stock price. Last summer, it axed 10 percent of its work force, trimmed its freelance budget, and closed its Seattle sales office. Then in December, it cut 20 percent of its staff. It also has cut sections that didn't draw as much traffic as other areas of the site.

Salon shares traded as high as $13 shortly after the company went public in June 1999, but they soon fell below $10 and have been languishing below $1 since late January.

Nearly every Web publisher that relies on advertising has suffered job cuts in recent months, including Standard Media International, publisher of The Industry Standard and TheStandard.com; Red Herring Communications, publisher of Red Herring Magazine and RedHerring.com; The New York Times on the Web; CNN.com; and CNET Networks, publisher of News.com.

CNET has a stake in Red Herring Communications.