Slate Group Closes Another Spinoff Site: Will It Cut The Root Next?

Slate Group has cut two of the three spinoff sites it launched at the beginning of 2008. Will the last remaining spinoff, The Root, be next?It was less than three years ago that Slate, the Washington Post Co.'s (WPO) popular online magazine, gave birth to a family of spinoff sites that became the Slate Group. The new standalone sites focused on business (The Big Money), women's issues (Double X) and African-American readers (The Root).

But the family soon started shrinking. Double X, which started as a blog on Slate, lasted only about six months before it collapsed back into its mother brand. The Big Money survived a little longer, but last week it, too, was deemed nonviable. That leaves The Root. Is there any reason to think it will fare better than its broodmates?

Will The Root Survive?

Yes and no. The Root has generated the most traffic of the three, according to Compete.com, but the volume isn't great: a mere 352,000 unique visitors in June. (And, in fact, The Big Money attracted more uniques in March and April.) The July numbers are likely to show a spike, thanks to interest in the Shirley Sherrod story. And from an ad-sales perspective, The Root has something of an advantage over the other two niche sites because many large advertisers earmark a portion of their budgets specifically for African-American media.

Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg says the closures of The Big Money and Double X have no bearing on the future of The Root or of the group's other brand, Foreign Policy, which it acquired after launching the other three siblings in 2008. "This doesn't imply anything for either of them -- they are different situations entirely," Weisberg says. "I can't give you the financial numbers, but The Root and FP really are doing well."

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