By: Allison Linn, AP Business Writer
(AP) Michael Kinsley, who founded Slate magazine nearly six years ago and watched it blossom into one of the top online publications, is stepping down as editor, saying he felt “a need for change” was in order.
Kinsley started Slate with the backing of Microsoft Corp. in 1996, and it soon became one of the earliest online magazines to make a name for itself. Slate has built a reputation for excellence and thoughtful commentary that remains among the most respected on the Web.
But in a memo to his staff Monday, Kinsley said he felt “a need for change, and I think Slate could use a change as well.”
Kinsley told The Associated Press that he would continue to write for Slate and hoped to work on other projects, such as promotional opportunities with other media organizations. “I’m not going to be spending my time sitting around,” he said, putting to rest any notion that he was retiring.
Kinsley said the fact that he has Parkinson’s disease was on his mind when he made the decision to leave Slate.
“On the one hand it would be nice to have a bit more time to exercise and do other things I ought to do for my health,” he said from his Seattle-area home. “On the other hand, I was thinking if I do this everyone will be thinking it’s because of the Parkinson’s. So that actually was (causing) me to put it off.”
Kinsley surprised many in journalism circles in December with an announcement that he had been diagnosed eight years ago with Parkinson’s, a progressive neurological disorder which causes muscle tremors and affects more than 1 million Americans. It is incurable but not usually fatal.
In an essay for Time magazine, Kinsley said he had struggled with his decision to keep the fact that he had Parkinson’s to himself and defended the notion of going on with his life as if he didn’t have the disease.
Kinsley is a former editor of The New Republic and has also been a co-host of “Crossfire,” the CNN political talk show. He has held editing posts at Harper’s, The Economist, and The Washington Monthly.
Despite his strong resume, Kinsley has failed to make Slate a profitable magazine.
“To be blunt, we haven’t yet accomplished my main goals here, which were to establish the kind of publication that would become self-sustaining,” Kinsley said. “We’re very close to proving that but we’re not there yet — but I intend to be here to celebrate when we do.”
Slate’s deputy editor, Jack Shafer, and political editor, Jacob Weisberg, will oversee the online magazine until Kinsley’s successor is named.