In a world were modern technology has seen the emergence of a great number of innovators and pioneers in the areas of journalism and media, Ariana Huffington has attained both distinction and notoriety. While it is too simplistic to suggest that Ariana Huffington, with her namesake news-site Huffingtonpost.com, has revolutionized journalism in the twenty-first century, it is fair to suggest that Huffington has made a significant contribution to the “new” media as well as providing a platform for the modern progressive press. Ariana Huffington’s background is almost ideally suited for launching her into this position. After distinguishing herself as a political activist /commentator and non-fiction writer, Huffington then emerged as a presence on the Internet, ultimately claiming an important place in the history of online journalism. Huffington, who was born in Athens Greece in 1950, was the daughter of a journalist. She moved to the UK during her middle teen years and moved to New York City at the age of thirty. She later married Michael Huffington and acted in many capacities as a conservative pundit and activist. While doing this, she also branched out into bit-part acting on a number of television shows both of a political and non-political nature.
Huffington’s academic background was in economics. She studied at Girton College. It is unclear whether or not a degree resulted from her studies. Later as an author and political commentator, Huffington showed a distinct awareness of how economics and social class influence political debates and policies, a perspective she retains to this day. Many observers may feel that Huffington has enjoyed a life of privilege and affluence and this position is highly supportable by the facts of Huffington’s life. Most importantly, Huffington’s affluent background and lifestyle is significant in terms of how it influences her status as a “mover and shaker” in the new media because her contacts and financial resources, as well as her formal background in economics, allow her to hold a unique position in terms of developing and growing what is now known as the Huffington Post. The basis of claiming that Huffington holds a special position in relation to the new media is also based on her wide experience with “old” media. Huffington, as previously mentioned, is the author of over a dozen books, including works of biography, politics, and economics. Also related to Huffington’s writing career is the fact that she was once accused of plagiarism. The accusation involved Huffington’s book Maria Callas and the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum of money. This is a significant event in Huffington’s background because it shows that Huffington has a propensity to lean on the work of others, which is an essential aspect of her approach to the new media.
The accomplishments that Huffington has attained in the new media are traceable to some degree to the background outlined above. With experience in economics, politics, writing, journalism, and socializing, Huffington seems to have applied all of her past positions to the creation of the Huffington Post. The first and most important reason why Ariana Huffington is a “person you should know” is due to this very reality. In other words, Huffington is a person you should know because she has succeeded in melding the personal and the public sides of her life within the context of the Huffington Post. That is to say, the Huffington post represents a cross-section of Huffington’s “friends” and political allies as well as representing areas of concern and interest that are based in her own personal viewpoints. These factors contribute to making the Huffington Post a kind of “hub” for progressive talkers and thinkers. Because of Huffington’s ingenious way of presenting news in a 2.o format, she has succeeded in attaching herself and her name to a massive variety of articles, blogs, and other political content, available at the Huffington Post. In fact, Huffington is not only a person you should know, she a person it would be almost impossible to miss in American media over the past decades. Due to her immersion in so many different forms of media, from books to blogs to sitcoms and websites, Huffington has succeeded in raising her media profile throughout the various “arms” of media to a degree that can only be described as “omnipresent.”
Additionally, Huffington not only supplied her name to the site and web-address of the Huffington Post, but she continues to serve as the most visible spokesperson for the site. She continues to appear on TV; she is active in social media such as Twitter and Facebook and she remains a staple commentator on all aspects of American politics, especially those aspects which are closely connected to the mainstream progressive population of the country. These factors bring to mind several of the key areas in which Huffington and the Huffington Post excel as innovation. For example, as many observers have pointed out in both complimentary and derogatory ways, the Huffington Post represents journalism 2.0 in a most obvious way. the content at Huffington post consists almost entirely of linked content which makes use of stories created by other news sources and a wide variety of blogs that are contributed by a team of (mostly) celebrity commentators.
There are three main lessons to be learned about the new media that Huffington can show to any interested observers. The first lesson is that the new media involves a great degree of eclectic content but it is still targeted content. This means that while it is smart business to streamline the perspective of a particular web-site news organization, it is also very important to provide a wide range of content and contributors. this allows the site to function truly as a form of mass media rather than as a niche site. By drawing content from various sources and by involving a large number of diverse bloggers, Huffington shows how adroitly she understands the basic premise of web 2.0. User-created content not only streamlines the necessary staff for the site, but it brings about a great degree of diversity in the content that is available while remaining well-within the central parameters of “progressive” commentary. Stated simply, the first lesson to be learned from Huffingtion is that linked stories and blogs provide a bountiful basis for a genuine news site, thereby allowing for quick-posting and rapidly changing content.
The second lesson to be learned from Huffington about new media marketing strategies is that it is perfectly acceptable to challenge — if not outright refute — media practices of the past. So, for example, by providing the majority of the content at Huffington post for free, Huffington has broken the most basic rule of business in that she is giving her product away for nothing. Or so it would appear to someone who is steeped in the old media. In point of fact, what Huffington has discovered and others should attempt to learn is that web-traffic is a lucrative attainment in and of itself. By having a vast number of visitors it is unnecessary to try to win subscribers. instead, Huffington can rely on revenue from advertising to make the site profitable. This approach, coupled with the free or next-to-free 2.0 content described above generates a new business model for journalism, one which is much more forward-looking and thinking than those sites which have transitioned online while maintaining a subscription policy.
The third thing that can be learned from Huffington’s approach is that when one form of media begins to gain in strength, other forms of media naturally rise as alternatives. So, for example, Huffington created the Huffington Post during an era when conservative FOX news ruled the old media of television. Because liberals and progressives had largely moved away from TV as their primary news source, Huffington availed herself of this situation by creating a progressive “hub” that catered to the new progressives who were more at home clicking a mouse than a TV remote. The innovative nature of this policy is much more obvious and apparent when the struggles of TV journalistic networks such as MSNBC are considered. While the TV outlets struggled to find a way to compete with FOX, the Huffington Post simply executed an “end-around” the powerful conservative news outlets and created a new “land of opportunity” for progressives in a media where they felt much more natural and at home. Huffington wasn’t the first person, obviously, to make this transition, but she has been the most successful largely due to her combining pop articles and news articles that are ogf interest to liberals on the same site.
One of the main things that we can learn from Huffington’s success is that aspects of the old media can still be powerful, but that they must find a transition to the new media. In other words, the newspaper editorial is till an important part of society, but it is now known as a “blog.” Therefore celebrity bloggers at Huffington Post draw as many readers, if not more readers, than a journalist who editorialized in the newspapers. By establishing a site that preserves the best of the “old”media while energetically embracing the capacities of new media, Huffington comes across not only as innovative, but as extremely brave. While some might wonder at the use of the term “brave” it is definitely warranted in Huffington’s case.
This is due to the fact that the Huffington Post emerged out of the new media after the new media was already well underway. Somehow, through her imaginative use of various new media components, Huffington was able to raise the profile of the Huffington post to a level that is as pervasive and influential as a successful print newspaper of the past. Another significant fact in regard to the Huffington Post is that the site was recently sold to the mega-corporation America Online. This fact shows that Huffington’s economic and business acumen remain intact. The fact that she was bold enough to offer the content of Huffington post for free has in no way diminished the profitability of her site.