Monday, February 7, 2011

Huffington Post Purchased by AOL, Reinforces Importance of Content

In the era of digital media, people frequently say that "content counts," but the reality is often different from the rhetoric. Online news in many cases is repurposed content from print or other "old" media, and original online content is increasingly produced by unpaid and heavily opinionated writers.

So news people might well be heartened by the report today that AOL has purchased The Huffington Post for $315 million. Namesake and co-founder Arianna Huffington will remain as editor-in-chief of the site. The liberal blog-and-news service has grown quickly in popularity in recent years, adding more paid staff, localized editions, original content, and special sections. Its acquisition is the latest sign that AOL sees its future in quality content, not in providing access to the internet itself, which was its former reason for being. The company made headlines last year with the purchase of TechCrunch, and it has been steadily building out its network of "hyper-local" news sites, AOL Patch.

For some background: Huffington has made numerous appearances at The Commonwealth Club of California. Below is video of Arianna Huffington addressing the Club in 2008, when she discussed her take on American politics and the old/new media divide.

Here is audio from her 2003 appearance at The Club. She returned in 2004 to discuss that year's political campaigns; you can read a transcript of her 2004 speech and audience question-and-answer session. And, finally, she spoke to a sold-out Inforum crowd just this past November, when she and moderator Raj Patel talked about everything from the Huffington Post's news choices to The Daily Show's John Stewart; you can read an extended excerpt from that event in the digital edition of The Commonwealth magazine.


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