Monday, February 7, 2011

Huffington Post sold for $315m. Her unpaid journalists feel snookered

Surely, The Feral Beast is not the only one annoyed by the smugness of Ariana Huffington and the success of her Huffington Post - sold yesterday to the aol conglomerate (remember America Online?) for a cool $315mil. Too many feel hoodwinked by Huffpo's progressive stance and now view Ms Arianna as an exploitative sell-out, not a web visionary. She started out as a Republican and elitist, after all. She's laughing all the way to the bank, dahlink.

In classics class, we were taught to "beware of Greeks bearing gifts." Well, maybe we also should beware of gifting anything to this Greek-born geek. Many fellow journalists now regret their dealings with this opportunistic uber-pundit. Mayhill Fowler, the amateur journalist who stunned the Democratic campaign with a clandestinely-taped quote from Obama about Middle American folks "clinging to guns and religion", got some travel expenses paid but then became disillusioned when no further money came her way. After all , Huffington had simply tweaked the old "Drudge Retort" formula, added interactiveness, big photos and misleading headlines, and cleverly maximized hits through the overuse of slideshows. Frequent posts about the former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin attracted thousands of snarky comments and multitudinous more hits. Advertisers are well pleased. Huffington's army of unpaid reporters and pundits measurably less so. Huffington's "group blog" initially appealed to the egos of moonbats who fancied themselves to be a superior new breed of "citizen journalists", opting for exposure over any payment whatsoever. Youngish voters who caught campaign fever, post-Howard Dean, were competing to contribute, too, as well as reporters fresh out of J-school who needed cyberclips to jumpstart their careers. After eight painful years in the Bush wilderness, many Americans were desperate for change and captivated by Barack Obama's charisma, showcased on the political pages of HuffPo. Eventually,though, some 300 employees came to be on the payroll. Outreach to deeper pockets was inevitable, particularly after Tina Brown's Daily Beast (no relation) high profile merger with Newsweek.

Listen to Nick Denton, who runs Gawker, which now becomes the biggest independent Web-based news outlet. “I’m disappointed in the Huffington Post. I thought Arianna Huffington and Kenny Lerer were reinventing news, rather than simply flipping to a flailing conglomerate,” he told Dan Lyons of The Daily Beast.

Denton insists he has no intention of ever selling Gawker, and he seems not-so-secretly pleased to see his opponents cashing out: “AOL has gathered so many of our rivals— Huffington Post, Engadget, Techcrunch—in one place. The question: Is this a fearsome Internet conglomerate or simply a roach motel for once lively websites?”

1 comment:

bloggette said...

Typing away for an upstart blog — founded by the lefty pundit Arianna Huffington and the technology executive Kenneth Lerer — would seem to be a little different from cranking copy for AOL, a large American media company with a market capitalization of $2.2 billion.

(And it’s going to seem very different to some other media companies. The Huffington Post has perfected the art of — how shall we say it? — enthusiastic aggregation. Most of the news on the site is rewritten from other sources, then given a single link to the original. Many media companies, used to seeing their scoops get picked off by HuffPo and others, have decided that legal action isn’t worth the bother. They might feel differently now.)

David Carr in the NYT