Huffington Uncorks a New Wine
By Elizabeth DiNovella, February 7, 2011
Back in 2008 at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City, Arianna Huffington was on a journalism panel entitled, “A New Media System? Or Old Wine in New Bottles?”
Huffington said that the bottles are definitely new, but it’s not entirely new wine. It’s a mixture. “There’s an awful amount of good that we want to keep from the old media: accuracy, fact checking, ferreting out the truth,” she said.
The main problem with old media is fake neutrality, she said. “They’ve given up the pursuit of the truth for the pursuit of fake neutrality, which means that they present every story and every issue as if it has two sides,” said Huffington. She said we’ve wasted years debating global warming this way. The two sides don’t deserve equal weight under the guise of reporters covering both sides of the issue. “The Earth is not flat,” Huffington said. “Evolution is a fact. Sorry Mike Huckabee—there is no other side to this issue.”
And what does the new media bring to out public debate? Transparency, accountability, and community, she said.
So what does the Huffington Post AOL merger mean for progressives?
In her blog post today, Huffington assures us the transformation will be positive.
“Far from changing our editorial approach, our culture, or our mission, this moment will be for HuffPost like stepping off a fast-moving train and onto a supersonic jet,” she wrote. “We’re still traveling toward the same destination, with the same people at the wheel, and with the same goals, but we’re now going to get there much, much faster.”
HuffPo is known for its brash approach to news. Huffington told The Progressive as much in an interview in the May 2009 issue. “I think people are attracted to The Huffington Post’s blend of up-to-the-second news and thoughtful opinion, delivered with an attitude,” she said.
Will HuffPo keep its progressive slant in its new incarnation? The New York Times reports, “AOL, which has been seen as apolitical, risks losing its nonpartisan image. Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business.”
We’ll have to wait and see what will come of an AOL and Huffington Post blend. Will it be an intoxicating Beaujolais? Or a boring corporate varietal of Shiraz?
Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter
(2) Arianna used us to launch her site
and now she sells us out
Crossposted with adbusters, 07 Feb 2011, which is the original site
WITH SELECT COMMENTS
SOCIALITE Arianna Huffington built a blog-empire on the backs of thousands of citizen journalists. She exploited our idealism and let us labor under the illusion that the Huffington Post was different, independent and leftist. Now she’s cashed in and three thousand indie bloggers find themselves working for a megacorp.
But the Huffington Post is not Arianna’s to sell. It is ours: the lefty writers and readers, environmentalism activists and anti-corporate organizers who flooded the site with 25 million visits a month. So we’re going to take it back.
We’ll stop going to her site. And we’ll stop blogging for her too. Then we’ll give birth to an alternative to AOL’s HuffPo by using the #huffpuff hash tag to tell the world about our favorite counter-culture websites and indie blogs.
We are the ones who built the Huffington Post. And now we will be the ones who will huff and puff it down.
For more info on adbusters counteroffensive, see this page: http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/huff-puff-it-down.html
AOL ♥ HuffPo. The loser? Journalism
To grasp the Huffington Post’s business model, picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates.
By Tim Rutten | February 9, 2011 | The L.A. Times
Whatever the ultimate impact of AOL‘s $315-million acquisition of the Huffington Post on the new-media landscape, it’s already clear that the merger will push more journalists more deeply into the tragically expanding low-wage sector of our increasingly brutal economy.
That’s a development that will hurt not only the people who gather and edit the news but also readers and viewers.
To understand why, it’s helpful to step back from the wide-eyed coverage focused on foundering AOL’s last-ditch effort to stave off the oblivion of irrelevance, or Brentwood-based Arianna Huffington‘s astonishing commercial achievement in taking her Web news portal from startup to commercial success in less than six years.
The media-saturated environment in which we live has been called “the information age” when, in fact, it’s the data age. Information is data arranged in an intelligible order. Journalism is information collected and analyzed in ways people actually can use. Though AOL and the Huffington Post claim to have staked their future on giving visitors to their sites online journalism, what they actually provide is “content,” which is what journalism becomes when it’s adulterated into a mere commodity.
Consider first AOL’s pre-merger efforts, which centered on a handful of commentators and a national network of intensely local news sites called Patch. The quality of those efforts varies widely, but the best ones are edited by journalists who lost their jobs in the layoffs and buyouts that have beset traditional news organizations over the last decade. These editor-reporters are given reasonable benefits and salaries that are about what beginning reporters at major newspapers were paid three decades ago. Their contributors, by contrast, are paid a maximum of $50 an article, often less.
The results pretty much conform to the old maxim that you get what you pay for; the best Patch journalism almost invariably is being done by experienced journalists who do the work out of idealism or desperation. What happens when that pool of exploitable surplus labor dries up — as it will with time — is anybody’s guess, but the smart money would bet on something that isn’t pretty.
That’s borne out by a memo from AOL Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong on where his company’s journalism is going. It’s fairly chilling reading, ordering the company’s editors to evaluate all future stories on the basis of “traffic potential, revenue potential, edit quality and turnaround time.” All stories, it stressed, are to be evaluated according to their “profitability consideration.” All AOL’s journalistic employees will be required to produce “five to 10 stories per day.”
Note all the things that come before the quality of the work or its contribution to the public interest and you’ve arrived at an essential difference between journalism and content. It may start with exploiting reporters and editors, but it inevitably ends up exploiting its audience.
The other partner to this dubious arrangement is the Huffington Post, which is a new-media marvel of ingenuity, combining a mastery of editing geared to game the search engines that stimulate Web traffic and overhead that would shame an antebellum plantation. The bulk of the site’s content is provided by commentators, who work for nothing other than the opportunity to champion causes or ideas to which they’re devoted. Most of the rest of the content is “aggregated” — which is to say stolen — from the newspapers and television networks that pay journalists to gather and edit the news.
The Huffington Post is a brilliantly packaged product with a particular flair for addressing the cultural and entertainment tastes of its overwhelmingly liberal audience. To grasp its business model, though, you need to picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates. Given the fact that its founder, Huffington, reportedly will walk away from this acquisition with a personal profit of as much as $100 million, it makes all the Post’s raging against Wall Street plutocrats, crony capitalism and the Bush and Obama administrations’ insensitivities to the middle class and the unemployed a bit much.
The fact is that AOL and the Huffington Post simply recapitulate in the new media many of the worst abuses of the old economy’s industrial capitalism — the sweatshop, the speedup and piecework; huge profits for the owners; desperation, drudgery and exploitation for the workers. No child labor, yet, but if there were more page views in it…
Tim Rutten’s career as a journalist spans more than 30 years at The Times.
Prior to becoming a columnist for the Calendar section in 2002, he held a number of positions, including city bureau chief, metro reporter, editorial writer, assistant national editor, Opinion editor and assistant editor for the Editorial Page. He started at the paper in 1972 as a copy editor in the View section. He participated in The Times? Pulitzer Prize-winning team coverage of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. He also won a 1991 award from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club for editorial writing.
He majored in political science while attending California State University, Los Angeles.
SELECT ORIGINAL COMMENTS
by Anonymous on February 09 2011, @11:37 am
Try this site, for Chrissakes…!
This was to be expected, and, frankly, although the HuffPo carried some serious left voices, most of the writers were bourgeois celebs with mainstream liberal (read Pro Democratic party/ Obama supporting) leanings and analyses. Arianna speaks (at times) like a leftie but she’s just one more rich establishmentarian.
For an independent left, and little known site with extraordinary analyses and posting some of the best political observers on the Web, check out The Greanville Post (http://www.greanvillepost.com/). IMHO it’s places like this that should have been growing, not the celebrity circus of Huffington Post, but then again Arianna had the millions and the fame to put her site on the map at the very start…as usual money and connections count in this rotten capitalist society.
— Scipio Gracchus
by Steve K on February 09 2011, @10:32 am
What were they thinking… well, we know Arianna was thinking dollar $ign$$$$$, but how stupid can AOL be to pay 300 million for nothing! I was shocked when I saw the Huff Post homepage announcement, I thought, what did she have to sell??? I’m done with Huffington Post, delete their bookmark and stick with Raw Story for now and help whatever site that grows out of the big bail from HP.
by Anonymous on February 09 2011, @10:29 am
its about fucking time someone did something about this fraud of a woman.
She went to Chile.. wined and dined by the elite.. and never made one mention of the Mapuche situation!
She is full of fucking shit.
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