Salon's loss of audience has much more to do with the fact that it began to suck before it went to a subscription model than with said subscription model. If its writing were still as good as it was in the early days, more people would subscribe and more people would be willing to sit through the idiotic ad.
My theory is that Table Talk went around the bend after the 2000 election (I vividly remember the woman who was threatening to kill herself, surrounded by concerned TT'ers, sobbing "He'll never be my president!"), and that (as sometimes happens with blog comments sections) the TT tail dragged the Salon dog around that selfsame bend.
"...A lot of that joyful spirit has been trashed by recent events, and I think Salon will play a role in reviving it."
"Recent events"?!! Salon started strangling that "joyful spirit" the moment it considered itself a 'player'.