Thursday, September 22, 2005


Wired's Adam Penenberg as a pretty good interview of Arianna Huffington. Nothing new, but another celebrity (with a small "c") voicing strong statements on the power of the blogosphere and discussing traditional journalism versus citizen journalism is a good thing.

Last May, when I first heard that Arianna Huffington planned to launch a blog and news site, I glibly predicted she would attract as much traffic as she did votes for California governor (she ended up dropping out of the 2003 recall election that Arnold Schwarzenegger went on to win).

Frankly, I didn't think a liberal version of the Drudge Report that would depend on the ruminations of blognorant celebrities like Laurie David (wife of Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David), octogenarian news anchor Walter Cronkite and actor John Cusack could be anything more than a virtual Hollywood cocktail party.

I wasn't the only one who thought this. Days after the launch of The Huffington Post, Nikki Finke in LA Weekly compared it to "the movie equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one. In magazine terms, it's the disastrous clone of Tina Brown's Talk, JFK Jr.'s George or Maer Roshan's Radar." Then Finke gets really mean.

But I was wrong. Not only has Huffington delivered on her promise to create an "innovative group blog," she has created a viable business. In its first month, The Huffington Post started out with more than 700,000 visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. By inking deals with AOL, Tribune Media Services and Yahoo, site traffic has grown to almost 1.5 million readers a month -- a leap of more than 60 percent from the prior month -- who click through 10 million pages.
WN: Some view blogs as being as powerful as the introduction of the printing press, ushering in a new age of citizen journalism. Others view blogging as a fad. What's your take on it?

Huffington: Simply put, blogs are the greatest breakthrough in popular journalism since Tom Paine broke onto the scene. I've been a fan -- and an advocate -- of the fast-moving blogstream ever since bloggers took the Trent Lott/Strom Thurmond story, ran with it and helped turn the smug Senate Majority Leader into the penitent former Senate Majority Leader.

When bloggers decide that something matters, they chomp down hard and refuse to let go. They're the true pit bulls of reporting. The only way to get them off a story is to cut off their heads (and even then you'll need to pry their jaws open). They almost all work alone, but, ironically, it's their collective effort that makes them so effective. They share their work freely, feed off one another's work, argue with each other, and add to the story dialectically. All of which has made the blogosphere the most vital news source in our country -- and led me to take a flying leap into it with The Huffington Post.
(full article)

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