Death of The Huffington / Birth of the Zeddington

Posted: February 9, 2011 by Zeddington in General
Tags: , , , ,

Morning all.

A few days ago, The Huffington Post was bought out by AOL in a deal worth some $315 million. Initial reaction by people commenting on the Huff Post boards was overwhelmingly negative – the gist of it being that they sold out. That reaction is hardly a surprise: while the Huff Post was hardly a bastion of revolutionary leftist thought, it did represent a sizable and increasingly important number of the liberal and leftist population of the United States. The signs of “sell-out” were already there (increasing corporate advertising on the website), and so for me personally the fact that the sale was made isn’t much of a surprise, although it happened sooner than I thought.

The reaction in the mainstream media has, for the most part, missed the point. This article from The Telegraph (UK) completely misses what this means for the most important aspect of The Huffington Post – it’s readers. Even this, from CNN, makes only passing reference to whether the editorial stance of the site will change. The article does make the valid point that the Huff Post is not particularly leftist anyway. It pretends to be, but that’s partly because the concept and definition of what it means to be on the ‘left’ is quite centrist anyway.

Perhaps the reason that not many are giving this question much attention is that Arianna Huffington herself seemed to avoid it herself. In her initial announcement on the website, she waffles a lot about things that most readers don’t really care about, using a lot of media-friendly and business-friendly rhetoric, to conveniently skirt around the point. Of some relevance, she finally says:

Remember my New Year’s resolution? It’s coming true — and it’s only the beginning of February. Let’s go down the checklist: Local? AOL’s covers 800 towns across America, providing an incredible infrastructure for citizen journalism in time for the 2012 election, and a focus on community and local solutions that have been an integral part of HuffPost’s DNA. Check.

Original video? AOL’s just finished building a pair of state-of-the-art video studios in New York and LA, and video views on AOL have gone up 400 percent over the last year. Check. More sections? AutoBlog, Music, AOL Latino, Black Voices, etc, etc, etc. fill gaps in HuffPost’s coverage. Add all that to what HuffPost is doing with social, community, mobile, as well as our commitment to innovative original reporting and beyond-left-and-right commentary, and the blending will have a multiplier effect. Or, as Tim and I have been saying over the last couple of weeks: 1 + 1 = 11.

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. 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.

That’s great, Arianna, but most of your readers don’t care for how many sections you have if you don’t give them what you want. This nonsense about fast-moving trains and supersonic jets does little to reassure if your editorial stance changes, and you’ve already indicated that it will (see bold text above, as well as this interview).

Of course, this could all be a cunning plan by Ms. Huffington, infiltrating and AOL and getting a wider audience for her evil leftie-commie views. If so, she ought to let us know somehow before she alienates the left.

So, to the Zeddington Toast. Never meant to be a replacement to the Huffington Post, or anything near to that, but hopefully we can provide some commentary and insight on whats going on. I will try to get some more people contributing in the next few weeks and months, and hopefully have some fun with this.

Have a good day.



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