WEEHAWKEN, NEW JERSEY — Founded in 2001 as an outlet for its editors’ frustrations with their day jobs, Slant Magazine began humbly as a two-man online reviewing operation, with Ed Gonzalez writing about film and Sal Cinquemani writing about music. The two covered only a smattering of the biggest releases in each field, but as other writers began volunteering to work for the site, its ambitions increased. Slant now boasts a healthy volume of content from a small army of unpaid contributors, and has been steadily growing its readership due to its expressive writing and an editorial policy that encourages a diverse array of voices.
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“I think we’re a little more open-minded [than other outlets],” says co-founder and film editor Ed Gonzalez. “We have room in our hearts for all types of pop music, all types of film. There’s no film or music or DVD or piece of theater or game that is beneath us. I think that’s an important part of the sense of community that we like to foster.” While Slant is a left-leaning website, several of its prominent writers are conservative, and it’s willing to give each side a chance to speak up on highly politicized documentaries or books. Likewise, its coverage is just as likely to focus on dance music as it is country, blockbuster movies as it is independent film festivals.
Yet due to its egalitarian view towards what’s worth serious consideration, the site can run into problems of focus and purpose. “Today we wonder if we’ve maybe spread ourselves a little bit too thin in covering so much media,” says Gonzalez. One way it solved this problem was by merging with The House Next Door, a pop culture blog originally founded by Matt Zoller Seitz and now edited by Keith Uhlich. While Slant has always focused on long-form reviewing, The House Next Door has offered its writers an way to utilize the often-more-nimble blog format, as well as giving the site a platform for responding to current news.
Despite the growth in volunteer contributors since its early days, Slant is still largely the product of its two founders. “Sal [Cinquemani] and myself are responsible for assigning every article, editing every article, cropping every image that you see on the site, everything from top to bottom,” Gonzalez explains. While the site’s traffic continues to improve, it’s doubtful that Gonzalez and Cinquemani will be able to pay contributors anytime soon. (The site’s ability to attract so many good writers is largely a result of the way it’s helped a number of young scribes get a foot in the door before moving on to more lucrative positions.)
While the site offers direct ad sales and boasts of such past clients as Toyota and Paramount Pictures, it relies primarily on national ad networks for revenue. But despite difficulties staying afloat, Slant remains a viable and valuable part of the critical landscape. Says Gonzalez: “We keep on trucking because we believe in the content that we’re producing, we know that our readers believe in that content, and we know that if we hung up the skates tomorrow a lot of people would be sad to see us go.”
City: Weehawken, N.J.