Mr dtp, a few days back, commented on the sale of the Huffington Post to a branch of skymadeupnewsandfilth. I could never stand the woman, or indeed, women like her -Tina Brown, Rebekka Wade, Eve Pollard, Barbara Amiel - and never visited the site. I have moaned before about how everybody communicating online provides free product for others to marshal and exploit - Google even visits Ishmaelia, twice a day, every day - in a variety of ways, some of them, Facebook, for instance, quite shocking. I was saying just a few minutes ago, on another post, that I fear we are wasting our time here, pissing in the wind, blowharding, when we should be pulling up paving slabs and building barricades; the Huffington scam illustrates this concern quite well, three thousand lefty bloggers busily enriching a right wing demagogue. I wonder if there's a UK parallel.
In 2005, Huffington founded Huffington Post, which operated with a business model that relied on activists, politicians and entertainers contributing free content. The Web site soon became an important center for progressives critical of George W. Bush’s presidency.
Over time, Huffington Post also featured gossipy articles about popular celebrities. Like other left-of-center sites, such as Salon.com, those stories often emerged as the best-read, encouraging a further drift in that direction as a means of securing advertising dollars.
The commercial success of Huffington Post – resulting from its low overhead due to the work of some 3,000 bloggers writing for free and from Huffington’s effective self-promotion – caught the eye of Wall Street investors and obviously AOL.
Though AOL generally provides right-of-center news content to subscribers – for instance, AOL joined in last week’s hagiography of Ronald Reagan – its management concluded that it could do business with Arianna Huffington.
The sale of Huffington Post to a corporation that positions itself in the right branch of the mainstream media – what many on the Left deride as the MSM – upset a number of the site’s bloggers, including some who vowed to withdraw their work.
A Twitter account, called #HUFFPUFF, urged “jammers, creatives and revolutionaries” to strike back at Huffington’s sell-out. “Arianna Huffington has betrayed us,” the message declared, “so let’s huff and puff her house down.”
The broadside continued: “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.”