So it’s a sort-of-farewell to Double X, the Slate spin-off site for women launched six months ago. It was announced last week that the site will be subsumed into the main body of Slate, from which it sprang in the first place. I’m vaguely reminded of the Guardian America microsite, launched in 2007 and quietly abandoned last month. That venture, though, was probably doomed from the start—Americans have their own news sources, and surely visit the Guardian for a different perspective.
Was Double X similarly misconceived? It was billed as “a new kind of women’s online magazine” yet never really defined itself. The site is marked as a “beta”—whatever that means in publishing—and has a slightly untended air (it has a problem with link spam which no one can be bothered to address). But Double X has also made waves with its content, for instance by publishing articles by love-to-hate women writers like Katie Roiphe and novelist Lucinda Rosenfeld. And Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s article on giving her autistic son marijuana made it across the Atlantic and into the Independent.
It would be silly to conclude that women don’t want online women’s magazines. Gawker Media’s Jezebel is flourishing—and has every reason to gloat now, after Linda Hirshman accused the site of hurting women in one of Double X‘s first articles. The decision to downsize Double X was apparently a business one, and perhaps proves nothing other than it’s unwise to launch so much as a rubber dinghy at the moment. (Although Slate sister sites The Root and The Big Money continue despite low traffic.) In any case, Double X will go on in another form, and Slate Group editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg thinks readers won’t notice any difference. I assume that means they’re not going to drop the irritating pink branding.