's New Makeover has gotten a face-lift of sorts. The small banner at the top of the front page asking you to swap 30 seconds of your life for a free day pass is gone. When I logged on to the site this morning, before any caffeine consumption that would have perked my sensibilities, I failed to notice the absence of the familiar rectangular banner. The ad Salon readers, those of us too smart or cheap to pay for full membership, had to "watch" in order to enter the site had always provided me a short window to step away from the screen and ingest the caffeine necessary to transform my brain from its morning mush into an alert, conscious information receptacle. But now it was gone. Sleepily, my eyes roved over the front page to an article that caught my eye, "The man who would be Hilary".

I instinctively clicked on the link and was taken to the page that followed, a page that actually contained text. Two rather lengthy paragraphs of text to be exact, taking up about a third of the page. Still clouded by sleep in my eyes and remnants of a nightmarish dream where I was pained to remember the name of a certain balding actor, don't ask, I did not immediately recognize this new access as different. But, as my eyes passed over the last few words of the second paragraph, I was met with a familiar site. "Click on the sponsor logo to read this article and all of Salon for FREE." There it was in all it’s glory, larger than the original banner previously located on the first page. In approximately two inches of large bold font, I was impelled to click on a link to an ad that would undoubtedly drive me to want to purchase the new Infiniti.

As innocuous as I had thought the original toll of short ads had been, by tucking the fare away on a second page, Salon now offers its readers an enticing taste of its content before requiring them to swallow the oft times bitter consumer propaganda. Now jolted awake by the revelation of this new format, and thankfully an epiphany drawing the name Ed Harris from the tip of my tongue, I proceeded through the ad to access the story in its entirety. But before I could fully commit myself to the article itself, I had to take stock of what had just happened. Back on the front page, below the scroll, there is a small note addressing the new format.

You're looking at Salon's new front page! We plan to add features, so please tell us what you like and don't like about our new design. Send your feedback to

I wondered at what responses they might receive. Would the majority of people be pleased that they were now able to access at least some portion of the articles before they had to sell 30 seconds of their soul? Or would others deem this new tactic as sneaky? I believe that most readers of, already accustomed to the mandatory ad, would gladly take the candy offered them knowing that the kidnapper would only abscond with them briefly, safely returning them to their initial destination moderately unharmed, the only ransom being paid by the advertiser.

The relationship between advertising and media is a codependent one, growing ever more reliant and blatant. In a world where we must accept the inundation of ads in order to fund the media we crave, I am more willing to submit to this reality in a kind of ignorant bliss as opposed to the in your face tactics of front page ads. I know it is there. I know why it is there. I know that it is necessary. And yet, I am thankful for any means publications may take to shield me from its blatancy. I am somehow viscerally offended by the idea of all encompassing front page ads on newspapers. I want to get to the content, and I want to get there quickly. That is why I am there.

However, my knowledge of this fact does not make me any more acquiescent. Little tricks on the parts of both the advertisers and publications, any attempt to cloak the necessary evil of consumerism in witty copy or clandestine placement, is greatly appreciated. To this end, I am pleased with Salon's new format. I am now offered the opportunity to informatively determine whether the content warrants the brief transgression to corporate courting. At least now I can get a free drink before I spurn the ad man's advances and opt to dine alone.

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