Slate to launch business site, "The Big Money"

NEW YORK Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:50pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Slate, the online news and opinion magazine owned by The Washington Post Co WPO.N, plans to join a bustling business news market with an analysis and commentary site expected to launch this summer.

"The Big Money" aims to use wit and irreverence to explain the arcana of Wall Street, the same way Slate has done with general and political news, Editor James Ledbetter told Reuters in an interview.

"We're reaching a different audience, a general interest site for people who have an interest in money and financial affairs and economics ... but not specifically or necessarily who work in the finance industry," he said.

The site will make its debut in a field crowded by both well-entrenched publications and newcomers dedicated to making business news palatable to a mainstream audience.

Prominent examples include Conde Nast Portfolio, whose Web site features the content of the magazine and an assortment of original reporting and blogs. News Corp NWSa.N launched its Fox Business News cable channel and Web site late last year.

Others include personal finance site The Motley Fool and TheStreet.com's TSCM.O recently launched MainStreet, which uses celebrities to explain business topics.

Slate, founded in 1996 by columnist and former Los Angeles Times Editorial Page Editor Michael Kinsley, has steadily expanded its services since last year, when it spun off a video site, Slate V, and launched Root, an African-American news and opinion site earlier this year.

There are a growing number of financial news publications in print and on the Internet, but not all of them cover the news in a way that is relevant for people who are not experts in business, but want to understand how it affects them.

"A lot of financial news is dry and really detail oriented," Ledbetter said. "It feels at best like trying to do your homework."

Ledbetter previously worked as an editor at Time and at The Industry Standard, the magazine that chronicled the rise and fall of the technology industry during the Internet boom of the late 1990s.

He also chronicled the fate of his own magazine in the book "Starving to Death on $200 Million a Year: The Short, Absurd Life of The Industry Standard."

(Additional reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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