Tag Archives: Huffington Post

HuffPo pay wall a possibility

Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, said in an interview yesterday at the Cannes Lions media conference that he is “open in the future to strategies that will help create great content and monetize it properly,” according to Bloomberg News, including offering digital subscriptions for premium content on its websites. N.B. AOL acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million in February.

“I think content subscriptions on the Internet can be a very viable business,” he said. During the interview, Armstrong said the subscriptions may at first be limited to business-to-business content offerings.

It doesn’t seem like HuffPo’s content will go behind a pay wall anytime soon, but it’s still a possibility. Especially considering AOL’s profit fell 86 percent in its first quarter. But maybe that’s just what happens when you hire more journalists and no longer force them to lie.

Are newspapers really the ones using those tip links on Gawker?

GawkerListen to a traditional journalist, and they will probably say news aggregators like Huffington Post and the Daily Beast are destroying the newspaper industry. These news compilers rip articles and headlines from online news sites and display them in an abbreviated, accessible form, making the original articles seem like stilted, humorless accounts written by tired, grumbling reporters.

On every aggregators’ site, there is an address for submitting news tips and articles — “Give Us The Scoop” on Huffington Post, “Tip Your Editors” on Gawker, “The Cheat Sheet,” on the Daily Beast. And to hear it from reporters like Ian Shapira of the Washington Post, whose story was recently linked and rewritten on Gawker, these submissions are helping to make the newspaper industry obsolete.

But distanced from the subject of the original article, these news aggregators are unrestrained by serious, fair reporting in their rewrites. In an online Q&A session with readers, Shapira wrote today:

Perhaps I could have included more criticism from more people in my story. But if every subject were open to mean-spirited mockery, I doubt as many people would let me into their lives.

So newspapers can’t be quite as humorous and snarky as aggregators and blogs. But are news aggregators and their condensed articles really destroying the newspaper industry?

According to an article on Gawker yesterday titled “The Time Gawker Put the Washington Post Out of Business,” newspapers themselves are actually using these tip lines to publicize their content:

If you’re going to fixate on blog links as the death knell of the industry, we have a lead for you: The threat is coming from inside the building. Nearly every day — 26 times in July alone — a Washington Post staffer not only sends us links to its expensive reporting but even pulls out the most interesting quotes so as to make it easier to pirate.

But maybe newspapers do have a reporters’ best interests at heart, despite this apparent sell-out. Who knows, maybe the money from those exclusive “salons” that the Post was planning to sell to lobbyists for up to $250,000 early last month was going to be given to reporters as thanks for the articles that newspapers were secretly selling to aggregators, anyway.

AP versus the Internet: why link access makes sense

As many newspapers announce they are considering charging for web content, putting their sites behind pay walls to compensate for decreased ad revenue, the AP’s proposal to require access agreements with news aggregators and big mirror sites may not be as detrimental to fair use standards as some are suggesting.

According to an article on Huffington Post, the AP ‘would rather destroy the link economy,’ rather than adapt to the digital age, to both the detriment of the news industry and themselves. The article then advocates replacing the AP:

The reason to replace the AP is because…it is hopelessly, mortally outmoded for the digital age and its ownership structure — I blame its board of newspaper owners more than I blame its management — won’t let it be transformed for our new reality…The AP’s primary job is to distribute content. In a content economy, that worked well. In the link economy, what the AP does is a disservice to content because it cuts the links to the source by rewriting news.

If news organizations that subscribe to the AP wire service require their own readers to pay for AP’s content, AP should also benefit. And as newspapers continue to make staff cuts in order to boost their own profits, their only hope in widespread global news coverage becomes AP reporters, anyway.

Why newspapers will disappear

Last week, major newspaper companies posted second-quarter profits, providing an inkling of hope that the industry has not flat lined yet. The New York Times Company, McClatchy, Media General and Gannett, which combined own more than 150 daily newspapers across the country, recorded market gains despite decreasing ad revenue as a result of staff reductions and other aggressive cost-cutting measures. Headlines declared a minor victory for print, emblazoned by these four companies.

But that’s the problem. An industry whose well-being hinges on the value of a few major companies cannot survive. Conglomeration has turned newspapers into homogenized posters for uninspired stories, and reporters are afraid to investigate when an expose could cost them their jobs. In March, The Huffington Post launched an investigative journalism fund, because, as this article notes:

Huffington said she and the donors were concerned that layoffs at newspapers were hurting investigative journalism at a time the nation’s institutions need to be watched closely. She hopes to draw from the ranks of laid-off journalists for the venture.

As long as journalists fear losing their positions on any of the newspapers owned by a few giants, newspapers will not survive.

And as new media strains the newspaper industry with immediate headlines and constantly changing articles, newspapers no longer hold the same import. In the morning, the front page boldly declares what happened yesterday, while the computer screen glows with what’s happening now. Newsprint is the town crier, dressed elaborately and trying desperately to communicate an established royal proclamation to the streets, blindly ignoring the more interesting and communally divisive brawl behind him.

Even if the reporting is flimsy, even if anyone can blog and write articles, at least new media journalists are not afraid to write controversial stories. Perhaps because the Internet is so vast, so unconstrained, new media has not yet fallen victim to the same conglomeration, safe in the tangled web of cyber-journalism. Newspapers cannot compete with real free press.

Are online journalism ethics different?

In a piece on Huffington Post today, Tim Berry, president and founder of Palo Alto Software, challenges TechCrunch’s decision to publish documents stolen from Twitter. He says this violates journalism ethics. He argues that TechCrunch is not doing a public service, as Daniel Ellsberg did when he published the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times. Armed with this confidential information, Berry writes, TechCrunch decided to publicly reveal a company’s secrets:

Not because the world needs it, not to defend anybody against anything, just for the fun of it. There’s no public good involved, not that I can see.

Berry argues there should still be a ‘code of conduct’ in the blogosphere, just as there is in print journalism, that blogs should not maliciously publish posts just because they can. But who decides which classified documents are beneficial to the public? Do bloggers have to adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Professional Society of Journalists when anyone can blog? Time for some debate. There’s probably a blog for that.