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MS-owned Slate reports Gates as 1999's top giver

Outstanding editorial decisions of the millennium - not.

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Microsoft-owned online magazine Slate has been getting into a pretty scrappy war with rival Salon over the past few months, but one of the former's current big stories is scarcely likely to help it. A report on America's top 60 charitable donations of 1999? Naturally the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation tops the poll by a mile, clocking-up $2.4 billion worth of giving over the year. The number two giver, Jim Clark, only managed $150 million, and another famous giver, Ted Turner, contributed $100 million. Ted is of course engaged in a yen year programme to give a billion, but the annual spend this results in still makes him look cheap. The sheer distortion created by the Bill and Melinda (OK, we know she's really not called Melissa) Foundation is made more apparent by the fact that the bottom 15 of the 60 tied with donations of $15 million. Really, this is a pretty dumb story for anybody to run, and in the case of Slate it's seriously screwy. Slate labours under the disadvantage of Microsoft ownership already. It's a big target for rivals, like Salon, who already find it easy to tag it as a staid MS house journal up against hip and happening upstarts. And even at the best of times, it's never a good idea to put the proprietor on the cover. ®

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