Who’s afraid of Arianna Huffington?

The New York Times has been gunning for The Huffington Post lately, which makes me wonder what exactly Arianna Huffington has done to scare or anger them so. Or perhaps that’s the wrong question. Given that our enemies are often those we don’t understand, I wonder what The Times fails to grasp about HuffPo. That then leads to the question of what The Times can learn from this Post.

Felix Salmon has done a skillful job covering this one-way war, this schoolyard taunting in two posts. Times Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote two columns and a blog post going after Huffington—once directly; once without (as Salmon puts it) the intellectual honesty to link to and allow his readers to judge those he criticizes; and once defensively, after Huffington called his bluff. Times staff loyally picked up Keller’s spitballs to lob their own. Media critic David Carr wrote and then killed a tweet sniping about Arianna that he later conceded was “tasteless.” Andrew Goldman didn’t so much interview Huffington for The Times Magazine as he acted like a parody of a TV prosecutor trying to bait a cagey witness—or perhaps it is better described as a comic homage to Joe McCarthy trying to elicit confessions of leftness. Then Salmon points out that The Times snagged a HuffPo scoop without credit. Just now Carr delivers a glancing blow to Aol/HuffPo, reading into a defection a defeat.

What is The Times’ problem? I think it’s that they do not understand what makes Huffington Post successful and they lash out at the unknown. Here, I suggest, is what The Times and Keller don’t understand about HuffPo. Here is what they think is wrong with it:

* Huffington Post is not content. Content is what content people make; if they don’t make it, it’s not content. That, I believe, is The Times’ cultural view of HuffPo: It cannot be content because the likes of The Times have not made it (no matter how many Timesman Huffington hires). That, I theorized, is why The Times and other media temples did not start their own HuffPo’s or buy the original: It’s not real. Even if The Times were to give it credit for the one-third of HuffPo that is content—by dozens of journalists—they’d still say it’s diluted by the other third that is aggregation and the last third that is comment. And that leads to…

* Conversation is not content. When I had Henry Blodget speak with my class on new business models and disruption, he praised HuffPo for its understanding of the value of conversation. In The Times’ view, conversation is what they enable—no, tolerate—when readers chatter under articles once they are finished. As I learn in every damned meeting with news folks I ever have, comments have cooties. All they can ever hear from the vox populi is the voices of the trolls. Blodget and Huffington have a broader sense of the conversation. That was Arianna’s essential insight when she gave celebrities a place to speak; that is conversation. That was Henry’s insight when he learned to listen to what people were talking about so he could join in and add to their conversation. Which leads to…

* Aggregation is cheating. The Times thinks aggregation is not content. Worse, they are coming around to Rupert Murdoch’s view that it is theft. As Jay Rosen tweeted, seen from the readers’ point of view, aggregation is helpful; it adds value to coverage. Indeed, that’s why The Times does aggregate and curate. But when looking for enemies, it’s best not to look in the mirror. I talk (a lot) about the link economy and how there are two distinct creations of value online: the creation of content and the creation of a public (née audience) for it. Aggregators, curators, and commentators bring audience—and value—to content. If the recipient of those links can’t build a relationship of value with the people who are clicking, that’s their problem. At CUNY, I will soon finally have the time to start a research project on the value of links and how to optimize it. I’d like to see this debate about aggregation between The Times and HuffPo occur on economic rather than emotional terms and hope to inform that discussion with facts.

* Free is offensive. Here’s another area in which The Times is coming to side with—gasp!—Murdoch. Now that it has a meter—and without a proven economic basis for it (not yet)—Times people must put the case again, in emotional terms of entitlement: Readers *want* to pay. Readers *should* pay. Times content *deserves* payment. People who question the strategy are demonized. (David Carr attacked me on NPR over just this … we’ve since hugged and made up; this is what I really have to say about the Times’ meter.) Huffington created value—we know the exact amount, to nine figures—out of getting people to write for free (because they wanted to and found value in). She’s cheapening the valuable work we journalists perform, isn’t she? No, like her free writers, she’s valuing something else. She’s valuing the relationships she has with the people formerly known as an audience.

* Left is not right. Goldman’s desperate effort to get Huffington to admit—CONFESS, I SAY AGAIN, CONFESS!—that she’s—gasp!—liberal, taken with Keller’s paeans to himself and his kind of journalism, were as revealing as they were disingenuous. I find Arianna, too, disingenuous in her efforts to sidestep the word the way Roger Ailes won’t own right. All of them want to dump us, the people, in these two buckets, left and right, but they are above classification. The Times’ real problem is not that Huffington a liberal but that she is an advocate of a point of view. So she tweaks The Times for WMDs and upholding antiquated definitions of objectivity and balance.

* Fun is not allowed. Journalism is serious business. It’s no place for kittens.

In my class, I’ve had my students pick a target to disrupt with a new business (after doing that, they’ll turn around and act as the disrupted company to craft a defense—it’s a lesson in finding opportunity in change). The class picked their target: Huffington Post (when I thought they would have picked The Times). Last week, they presented research and what struck me was the difference in engagement at both sites. HuffPo users generate 18 page views per month on average. The Times is defining only a small slice of its uniques—10%? 20%?—as that engaged, at 20 pageviews per month. I say The Times would have better used the $30-40 million reportedly spent on its meter finding ways to better engage its public—multiplying pageviews (fourfold or more?) and consequent ad revenue—while finding new ways to exploit these deeper relationships (data, commerce, events….). The Times knows it needs to increase engagement; that’s the industry’s favorite conference buzzword. The irony of The Times’ meter is that when it succeeds at engaging a once-casual reader, their reward is a wall. That is an economic and strategic question.

How could The Times increase engagement? By learning from Huffington Post rather than snarking at it. Aggregation has value for readers. Conversation is engaging. Fighting for the people—which is what newspapers did, in their good old days—is the most meaningful way to engage with a community. Fun is fine.

I am reminded of the schoolyard, when the boy nasty to a girl and some sage adult would see that he really just had a crush on her and didn’t know how to say it. OK, Bill and Arianna, kiss and make up.

: See also Jonathan Stray, who calls for a paid content API. I’d broaden that (as above) into a means to exchange value for both content and audience however that value is then exploited.

  • Scott

    On the question of exploiting Charlie Sheen, which bothered you so much a few weeks back, how would you compare the performance of The New York Times and The Huffington Post?

  • http://www.youintegrate.com Kneale Mann

    In my many years in the broadcast industry, I always found it curious when one outlet would begin to lob venom on a competitor. As in life, it was often from a place of fear. If the Times thinks HuffPo is a rag then be a better Times. If the Times wants its consumers to pay for its content, then charge and those who can find it in a million other locations will do so.

    Once you lose focus on your customer and use your platform to take shots at your competitor (yes, competitor!) its akin to a couple going through a divorce and putting the kids in the middle.

    When you’re driving in a snow storm your best strategy is to stay in your lane. It appears a legendary news outlet may be voluntarily veering into oncoming traffic.

  • http://sputnik.pl Pies

    Great article! I think that Goldman’s interview with Arianna Huffington shows very clearly who in that conversation is the journalist, and who is the troll :)

  • http://www.tianobookdesign.com Stephen Tiano

    Sure, what could possibly be wrong with an outfit like HuffPo, that makes it’s bones on the backs of it’s free labor, sells for millions of dollars, and doesn’t give it’s serfs a taste?

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      So don’t write for them. No one is forcing you. The deal has always been clear: She provided a platform, people used to for whatever reason, the platform gained value. Welcome to a post-gatekeeper media market based on abundance not scarcity. Simple economics.

    • http://www.journamarketing.com David Brazeal

      For all those writers who want to be paid for their stuff, my advice is that you write stuff someone will pay for. If you can’t do it, maybe a career as a writer isn’t in the cards.

  • http://professionalleft.blogspot.com Blue Gal

    All of that is true, but Arianna still took the money and ran, without acknowledging that those who contributed to her site had a place at her table. She’s lost all the linkage the liberal blogosphere might have given her site (though to be honest, Lindsey Lohan nipple slips had already cheapened her brand among progressives).

    And in the end, what Arianna sold for that nine figures was a brand. Time will tell whether the Huffpo brand can blossom any further now that any semblance of internet cool is gone — trust me, the cool kids think Huffpo equals massive corporate sellout by a woman who cares about nothing but celebrity. Her vacation photo with Newt Gingrich pushed everyone left of Nixon over the edge. In the meantime, the Huffpo brand is represented on television by the embarrassing centrism of Howard Fineman. Good luck with that.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Yes, that is her risk, precisely.

  • Siva Vaidhyananathan

    The Times is missing the most serious crime that HuffPo commits. It regularly and shamelessly promotes the harming of children to feed the egos of crank new-age “experts” like Jim Carrey.

    Any publications that can so shamelessly hurt people and spread lies like this should be shunned by the rest of us.

    And don’t get me started on the labor problems …

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=the-huffington-post-and-the-ongoing-2011-02-11

    http://blogs.forbes.com/matthewherper/2011/02/11/huffington-post-still-believes-vaccines-cause-autism/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr-and-david-kirby/vaccine-court-autism-deba_b_169673.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-mccarthy/vaccine-autism-debate_b_806857.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-carrey/the-judgment-on-vaccines_b_189777.html

    • Scott

      THIS!!!

    • Nanker Phelge

      This is a BIG deal. So is that fact that Huffington herself was accused of plagiarism in _three_ of her books.

      Business model issues aside, the site’s journalism isn’t very good and Huffington’s journalistic ethics are worse. Jeff, do either of these issues bother you at all?

      • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

        I don’t know which one of the two banned folks you are. I think I know. But I really don’t care. If, like your forebears. you insist on doing nothing but coming to attack, you, too, will be escorted to the door.

      • http://buyersstrike.wordpress.com BuyersStrike!

        It is a good question. One Jeff should answer. Or is the cognitive dissonance too painful?

  • http://twitter.com/zseward Zach Seward

    Where did your students find that “HuffPo users generate 18 page views per month on average”? Might they mean logged-in users? If so, that’s probably comparable to the Times. But if they mean that HuffPo averages 18 monthly pageviews per visitor, I’m (pleasantly) stunned.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Damn. I screwed up and see I didn’t link to the source for that stat and I’m away from my desk right now. Will try to dig it up again later. It came from HuffPo. My students’ numbers were similar but different (apples-v-oranges to the Times; that’s why I chose that source and number.)

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  • Peter

    Regarding the point of aggregation, I also think that in some cases aggregation is like a theft.

    For example, some journalist from mainstream media cover some story, and it takes a lot of time and money to do one article, since the reporter has to actually go somewhere, ask people, phone, etc…

    Then, some blogger, siting at home in pajamas, takes the article and pick out the main facts and quotes, and recompiles it into other article. Of course, he can do it with much less resources spent, and his rehash can be as interesting as an original source. If some blogger does this as an amateur just to discuss stuff, that’s ok. But if someone does it for money like HuffPo for example, I think it’s just a form of (legally correct) theft.

    • http://jonathanstray.com Jonathan Stray

      Ok, but why would anyone read the blogger instead of the original? The experience of reading the blogger must have some added value over the original in some way, from the consumer’s perspective.

    • Andy Freeman

      > Then, some blogger, siting at home in pajamas, takes the article and pick out the main facts and quotes, and recompiles it into other article.

      This practice predates bloggers and is common practice among “professional journalists”.

      Yes, even the pajamas part.

      So, why is the complaint about bloggers?

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  • http://theoblogical.org Dale Lature

    I don’t know Stephen, how many of those “serfs” are quitting? I’ve heard manyof them talk about how they’re glad to offer their posts to that audience. At the same time, I wouldn’t mind if at some point, a way and a willingness would be put in place to make their value more monetary.

    • http://theoblogical.org Dale Lature

      Jeff basically said that (and said it much better) in his reply to Stan below)

    • Andy Freeman

      > At the same time, I wouldn’t mind if at some point, a way and a willingness would be put in place to make their value more monetary.

      Go for it – build that place youself.

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  • Stan Hogan

    So much to disagree with here I’ll need to focus on one wonderful paragraph.

    “Aggregators, curators, and commentators bring audience—and value—to content. If the recipient of those links can’t build a relationship of value with the people who are clicking, that’s their problem. At CUNY, I will soon finally have the time to start a research project on the value of links and how to optimize it.”

    What you’re saying is someone who pays people to create content should be happy that someone else is stealing the thunder of that content and tossing them a link in return. And yes, it’s not the first time you’ve said it.

    If they can’t figure out how to make money off that link, tough luck for them. It’s the same-ol’-same-ol’ from you, though the economics of that have never materialized.

    Ah, but we can find solace in the fact you will soon have the time to establish truth to what you have been peddling all this time. A research project on the value of links and how to optimize it!

    But what if your research backs the evidence compiled thus far? The evidence that aggregators are the only ones benefiting in any meaningful way from this theft?

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Look at the economics: You are getting free marketing bringing you free audience.
      OK, fine cut yourself off from those links — easily done. Murdoch has done it at The Times.
      Now you have a marketing cost to bring people to you.
      That is the choice.
      Simple economics.

      • Robert Kendrall

        Mr. Jarvis,

        Fascinating article. Love your work.

        What economic principle is at work here?

        On the internet, clicking on any link is free, so I don’t understand what you mean about simple economics. I mean it’s good to get traffic to your site, but there might be other ways to do that other than offering your content for free.

        It sounds like what you’re saying is the only option is to offer your content for free in order to get any traffic to your site. Is that what you are saying? What other business models do you teach at CUNY?

        Again, love your work. Looking forward to Private Parts.

        Regards,

        R. Kendrall

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          No, that’s not what I’m saying. There are many business models. For unique content — performances, movies, books — as I have often said, I do and will pay. For commoditized information, not so much.

      • Future Up

        Jeff Jarvis says, “You are getting free marketing bringing you free audience.”

        I don’t want free audience. I want paying audience.

      • Andy Freeman

        > I don’t want free audience. I want paying audience.

        Cute, but inaccurate.

        A link brings you readers, an audience if you will, typically without charging you for doing so. You’re free to do with them as you will, to charge them or not.

        Surely you’re not under the illusion that you’re obligated to provide your content for free to someone who arrives via a link?

      • http://watershedchronicle.wordpress.com Dan Meadows

        I’ve never understood the backlash at the “free” aspects of internet content. I’ve earned a quite comfortable living over the past 15 years working exclusively for free publications where we gave away more value to the reader for free than most websites do. And we spent a good chunk of money in production costs for that free content we so readily gave away.

        Did we make money doing it? Certainly, hand over fist in some cases. We, unlike our cover price, non-free counterparts, even in the same companies, understood that building an audience was only the first step in generating revenue, and we exploited that audience every which way imaginable, to great success. And we did it without short-changing those who created the content, as some of these so-called media experts are calling for today.

        Giving away content for free is neither world-changing nor destructive. In fact, it’s been standard operating procedure in some circles for quite a long time now, and has every possibility of leading to financial success. The problem publishers have is two-fold; one, they see the web as simply an extension of print, which it isn’t, and two, cutting content is their fall back position to every little problem because those who pour over budget sheets typically don’t have the long-view perspective to see that all value in an enterprise isn’t simply relegated to what you directly make a buck on.

        In that way, the web is very much like print can be, in that there are far more opportunities to make money indirectly on your products that the age-old cover price. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; real change–sustainable change–won’t occur in publishing until the old guard are well and truly out of the picture.

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  • libfreak48

    What it really boils down to is this: I read the Huffington Post; I don’t read the NYT.

  • Joe

    Great simple economics you teach Jeff. Journalists should work for free, those who profit from the free work should make out like a bandit, and anyone who has a problem with it is just a whiner.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      HuffPo hires journalists. We’re talking about commentors. As this very space demonstrates, comment is quite abundant and next to no one pays for or should pay for it. Would you pay for the comments here? Why should Huffington Post?

  • Herman Wong

    I would also like to see the debate about aggregation to be based on economic rather than emotional terms, and hope that your project will bring more facts to this argument. For example, I’ve read that HuffPo is much like the AP in its delivery of stories to a wider audience, except the former pays in attention rather than money. Would it be possible to see the dollar worth of “attention”? I know this might be difficult because it would be dependent upon a publication’s ability to turn traffic into dollars (which not every media outlet does well), but even an attempt at figuring this out would help in this conversation.

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>I don’t know which one of the two banned folks you are. I think I know. But I really don’t care. If, like your forebears. you insist on doing nothing but coming to attack, you, too, will be escorted to the door.

    I hardly think what I said was an attack. I just asked a question: Are you bothered by Huffington’s journalism, or her three accusations of plagiarism (one of which was settled out of court)?

    Compared to what you said about Keller above, that seems fairly innocuous.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      I said that all you do here is return to complain again and again like others I’ve known.

      • Nanker Phelge

        I’m not complaining. I’m asking questions – tough, but _certainly_ no tougher than those you’ve asked Keller, Gladwell, and others. In this case, the question is pretty simple: Are you bothered or not by the Huffington Post’s sloppy science journalism and the three accusations of plagiarism against Huffington herself.

        Thus really doesn’t seem like such a weird question, and I don’t particularly think there’s a wrong answer. (Maybe the science stuff is growing pains. Respected publications have done worse.) I’m just curious.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          In one case they fired the intern who did it. I don’t have links to the other cases you number to comment in any detail on them. Links?

          I’m not here to defend everything that appears on Huffington Post anymore than I’d do that for any publication. I’m talking about the Times attacks on Huffington Post and the lessons HuffPo could teach the Times.

          Now you can then demand that I comment on Arianna’s treatment of her pet bird but I don’t know anything about that.

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>In one case they fired the intern who did it. I don’t have links to the other cases you number to comment in any detail on them. Links?

          That’s not what I meant – sorry if I was unclear. My main problem with the Huffington Post – which Siva also brought up – is that its health coverage promotes discredited theories about vaccines causing autism, as well as other junk science. You can read about this here –
          http://www.salon.com/news/environment/vital_signs/2009/07/30/huffington_post

          The site’s wellness editor, “Dr.” Patricia Fitzgerald, is a licensed acupuncturist and homeopath (who doesn’t specifically claim to be a medical doctor but implies it). While the site says these blogs represent the opinions of the contributors, they seem to value fabulism by Jim Carey over science by, well, scientists. xecutives there are smart enough to know this is a problem, and I think it’s irresponsible for them not to address it.

          Also, the 2008 New Yorker profile of Huffington, available here –
          http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/10/13/081013fa_fact_collins
          points out that was twice accused of plagiarism – once for her Maria Callas biography and once for her Picasso biography. (A third book had similar problems, according to a 1994 Vanity Fair profile.) In the case of the Callas book, the accusation led to a legal claim that was settled out of court. Since the relevant claim is copyright infringement, the standard is _very_ high – so it seems safe to say that she “borrowed” quite a bit.

          You may think these don’t matter – which is fair enough – but they both seem more significant than her treatment of her pet bird. And I’d argue that they’re relevant to the “lessons” the Huffington Post could teach the Times.

        • Andy Freeman

          The relevance of this line of questioning is unclear to me.

          Suppose that Huffington is a committed plagarist. That means that she steals content, but it doesn’t make that content any more (or less) true. I can see how the person whose content was nicked might care, but does a reader?

          More to the point, what relevance does plagarism that have to her job at AOL? She’s not providing content, she’s directing coverage and the like.

          Are you suggesting that she might steal said direction from others without attribution? If so, who cares?

          If not, what’s the problem?

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>I can see how the person whose content was nicked might care, but does a reader? . . .Are you suggesting that she might steal said direction from others without attribution?

          The two things I mentioned are separate – the weird health claims are (very) original; Huffington’s plagiarism was in her own books. The former case is terrible journalism – the kind the Times (generally) avoids by hiring professional writers and editors. This is a lesson the Times could teach Huffington. To her credit, she seems willing to learn, since she’s hiring real professionals – although whether her business works with those expenses is an open question.

          In the latter case, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. It’s unethical and, in extreme cases, illegal – to the point that Huffington settled a legal claim. Do you really not understand what’s wrong with plagiarism?

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Oh, yes, the Times could and does teach Huffington Post lessons. No disagreement there. I didn’t say otherwise.

        • Andy Freeman

          > Do you really not understand what’s wrong with plagiarism?

          I understand what’s wrong with plagarism. I’m asking about its relevance.

          I’ll ask again – why is Huffington’s plagarism relevant to her current position?

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>I’ll ask again – why is Huffington’s plagarism relevant to her current position?

          I think it’s pretty obvious: It’s an issue of qualifications an an issue of character. First, in her current position, Huffington more or less operates as an editor in chief. (She handles strategic issues, of course, but she also exercises considerable editorial authority.) She’s blatantly unqualified because a substantial chunk of her own journalistic work is so poor.

          Second, I think repeated plagiarism shows an ethical problem. We’re not talking about taking a sentence or neglecting to give credit. (These are unacceptable but understandable mistakes.) We’re talking about two books based substantially on the work of others – which she took credit for. Even by the debased standards of modern mass media, she’s sleazy.

          Obviously, she has every right to lead her company and AOL has every right to buy it. What I find shocking is that people who think deeply about the future of journalism take her seriously,

        • Andy Freeman

          > What I find shocking is that people who think deeply about the future of journalism take her seriously,

          I don’t know or care much about those people.

          However, I’ll note that journalism as currently practiced doesn’t get much respect, and deserves even less, so claiming that Huffington doesn’t meet its standards isn’t all that damning.

          But, circle those wagons – the Indians are coming.

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>I don’t know or care much about those people.

          You obviously do, since you read this blog.

          The respectability of journalism has little to do with anything. As flawed as newspapers are, Huffington has no real plan to fix them, and she’s taken the worst practices (self-promotion, an obsession with television exposure) without taking the best. And the standard Huffington doesn’t meet has nothing to do with journalism – plagiarism has been regarded as wrong in Western culture since ancient Greece.

          You obviously don’t care for newspapers, which is fine. But I can’t understand why that makes you fond of Huffington, since she borrows from them so liberally.

        • Andy Freeman

          > You obviously don’t care for newspapers, which is fine. But I can’t understand why that makes you fond of Huffington, since she borrows from them so liberally.

          Is that an example of the “critical thinking” that you think that journalists have to offer? I ask because its fairly irrational, like many journalist tropes.

          I can’t understand why anyone would think that a sound/reasonable argument, so I guess we’re even.

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>Is that an example of the “critical thinking” that you think that journalists have to offer? I ask because its fairly irrational, like many journalist tropes.

          This is pretty straightforward, but I’ll repeat it slower for you. Huffington insults newspapers; Huffington takes the reporting of newspapers; therefore, Huffington is either dishonest or dumb. What’s so hard to understand about that?

          We are _not_ even. I know a great deal about Huffington, journalism, and intellectual property law. You don’t. The least you can do is try to follow along.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Well, then, if you know so much then you would have the balls to put what you say behind your name and reputation rather than hiding behind your snark gun. Your tone is tiresome. Cut it out and have civilized discussions or don’t at all. Do I need to repeat that? I won’t.

        • Nanker Phelge

          I haven’t said anything you wouldn’t say to Rupert Murdoch or Bill Keller. I didn’t even ask if you knew about Huffington’s plagiarism when you brought her in as a CUNY graduation speaker. Until now.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          I will tell you what I tell every commenter: I have little respect for you and what you say if you don’t have the courage of your conviction to stand behind what you say with your name, whoever the hell you are. So you are wasting a good deal of your time here. I get your point. You don’t like Huffington. Made and made again and again and again. I also have little tolerance for repetition. I have little tolerance for you insulting my readers and me. Add it all together and …. enough.

        • Miles Davis

          If you have such a low tolerance for repetition, why do YOU make the same points time and time again?

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          I have already killed one of your comments. You went way beyond the line of civility.

        • Miles Davis

          Interesting: You threaten “Nanker Phelge” with banishment, yet Andy Freeman’s relentless provocation (does this man have a job? A family? Where does he find the time to endlessly argue?) repeatedly gets a free pass. Why is this?

        • Andy Freeman

          > Where does he find the time to endlessly argue?

          It doesn’t take much time to write 2-3 paragraphs, which is about how much I’ve written here each day.

          Then again, I’m not a professional writer.

        • Andy Freeman

          > This is pretty straightforward, but I’ll repeat it slower for you. Huffington insults newspapers; Huffington takes the reporting of newspapers

          Wrong – that’s not what we’re discussing. I’ll quote it from above because you can’t seem to summarize what you wrote.

          “You obviously don’t care for newspapers, which is fine. But I can’t understand why that makes you fond of Huffington, since she borrows from them so liberally.”

          “you” is a reference to me, not Huffington. You can’t even keep track of who you’re writing about.

          Not surprisingly, the new argument isn’t any better than the previous one because insulting someone while taking the fruits of their labor is not necessarily dishonest or dumb. For example, is it dishonest or dumb to drink cow’s milk yet think that cows are dumb animals?

          “critical thinking” isn’t short for “I think that I’ll criticize”.

          > Huffington is either dishonest or dumb.

          And that distiguishes them from other journalism organizations?

          Note that nothing that I’ve written suggests that I’m fond of Huffington (either the pub or the person). I’ve pointed out that she’s a failed journalist. I have pointed out that she’s successful at other things, but that doesn’t imply fondness.

          I do like the effect that she has on many journalists, but ….

          > I know a great deal about Huffington, journalism, and intellectual property law.

          Maybe so, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

          > We are _not_ even.

          You are correct about that. You can’t form a coherent argument and have problems with basic reading comprehension.

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>problems with basic reading comprehension.

          Well, I certainly can’t understand anything you write, but I don’t think that’s my fault. See exhibit A:

          >>>Not surprisingly, the new argument isn’t any better than the previous one because insulting someone while taking the fruits of their labor is not necessarily dishonest or dumb. For example, is it dishonest or dumb to drink cow’s milk yet think that cows are dumb animals?

          This doesn’t hold together. The intelligence of cows has little bearing on their ability to produce milk. The intelligence of journalists has some relationship to their journalism. Also, Huffington doesn’t only insult journalists – she insults newspaper journalism. Then she takes it. *If she thinks it’s so bad, why does she take it?* I don’t think that has anything to do with buying cows or getting milk for free.

        • Andy Freeman

          > Well, I certainly can’t understand anything you write, but I don’t think that’s my fault. See exhibit A:

          Interestingly enough, you seem to understand what you then quoted. You misanalyzed it, but ….

          > The intelligence of journalists has some relationship to their journalism.

          Huffington points out that said intelligence hasn’t translated into an ability to make money doing journalism.

          I think that Huffington Post is crap journalism. That said, it did satisfy the first rule of journalism, namely, stay in business. That makes it better than all of the orgs that are circling the drain.

          If journalists are so smart, why is Huffington doing better?

        • Nanker Phelge

          >>>Huffington points out that said intelligence hasn’t translated into an ability to make money doing journalism.

          She’s also criticized their coverage, which is far better than hers.

          >>>I think that Huffington Post is crap journalism. That said, it did satisfy the first rule of journalism, namely, stay in business. That makes it better than all of the orgs that are circling the drain.

          I don’t see much evidence of that. First, the Huffington Post says it only made money in 2010, and we don’t know how much. We don’t know how it will continue now that there’s pushback against its feudal business model and it’s spending more money on salaries.

          And there are some news organizations that aren’t circling the drain: Bloomberg, the WSJ, and the FT, among others. They all charge for content. I believe the Economist also does well, although I haven’t looked at any numbers. All of those organizations do great journalism _and_ make money.

          Jeff, when you brought Huffington to CUNY as a graduation speaker, did you know about the accusations of plagiarism?

        • Miles Davis

          Dude, you’re asking people who don’t give a shit.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          I do not and never said I did support everything on Huffington Post. Hell, I couldn’t read it all.

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  • http://HockeyBias.com HockeyBias.com

    …And (once the reader has viewed 20 pages in a month) the paywall approach the Times spent all that dough on lets a reader easily link out to, say, a Washington Post article, but not to another nytimes article. Is that good for business?!

  • http://www.revolutionaryalternatives.ca James St. James

    Hi everyone, check out a lecture Jeff did at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership on BETA-think http://www.berlin-school.com/ideas/blog/blog-post/2010/2/16/jeff-jarvis-presidents-lecture-now-online/

  • http://pacquiao-vs-mosley-fights.blogspot.com/ Pacquiao

    What you’re saying is someone who pays people to create content should be happy that someone else is stealing the thunder of that content and tossing them a link in return. And yes, it’s not the first time you’ve said it. If they can’t figure out how to make money off that link, tough luck for them. It’s the same-ol’-same-ol’ from you, though the economics of that have never materialized.

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    güncel sa?l?k sitesi http://www.3ay.org nöbetçi eczaneler a??z ve di? sa?l???

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  • http://www.tradetrusting.com dikedike

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  • Miles Davis

    Again, the majority of people supporting this are rich, dying Baby Boomers who made their fortunes under the “old model” and will never have to work — much less survive — in the new.

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  • Jim Meiers

    If i? ill i go to a doctor not to an citizen doctor! There would be no Huffpost nor Daylife withot the AP or the NYT. What do you think?

  • Andy Freeman

    > She’s blatantly unqualified because a substantial chunk of her own journalistic work is so poor.

    Are you seriously claiming that being a good journalist has anything to do with being a good editor in chief? If that was true, why are organizations with good journalists as editor in chief failing?

    > Second, I think repeated plagiarism shows an ethical problem.

    So?

    I understand that many editors drink and fool around. Some cheat on their taxes. Some fake expense reports.

    Which reminds me. At least two major and respected news organizations have taken money to help promote Obamacare. They don’t disclose this.

    How does that compare to Huffington’s plagarism?

  • http://www.havocscope.com Black Market

    The fact that she is now attempting to cast Huffington Post as a non-partisan website is ridiculous. Regardless of your politics, for her to say with a straight face that huffpo didn’t start off as a liberal website flies in the face of reality. She sold out her user base for the almighty dollar.

  • Andy Freeman

    >>I don’t know or care much about those people.

    > You obviously do, since you read this blog.

    I doubt that many of those people read this blog, and I don’t read this blog because I care about the people who read it.

    > And the standard Huffington doesn’t meet has nothing to do with journalism

    Plagarism has nothing to do with journalism? Doesn’t that undercut your claim that its relevance to Huffington’s new position?

    > plagiarism has been regarded as wrong in Western culture since ancient Greece.

    Oh, so plagarism is a general sin, like pederasty, alcoholism, etc.

    Unless you’re going to argue that an editor in chief should be free of all sins, you get to explain why certain sins are relevant and others aren’t. I’ll repeat – why is plagarism a disqualifying sin for an editor in chief?

    You need specifics. We’ve established that readers don’t care. Since she’s not producing content as editor in chief and editors are expected to steal story ideas….

    • Nanker Phelge

      >>>Plagarism has nothing to do with journalism?

      I was unclear. The idea that plagiarism is wrong _certainly_ has to do with journalism, but it did not _originate_ in journalism.

      >>>Unless you’re going to argue that an editor in chief should be free of all sins, you get to explain why certain sins are relevant and others aren’t. I’ll repeat – why is plagarism a disqualifying sin for an editor in chief?

      Now you’re being ridiculous. There’s a difference between personal and professional behavior, and every employer recognizes that. Huffington’s personal ethics – her greed or social climbing – aren’t especially relevant for this job. But plagiarism is professional behavior – it’s very relevant. Here, I think you’d have to differentiate accidental plagiarism (taking a sentence or two, not giving proper credit) that happens to many journalists once or twice in a career from the deliberate, repeated copying of the kind Huffington engaged in. (Remember, she settled a court case, and the legal standard is very high.)

      Now, you could certainly argue that this shouldn’t disqualify her – it was a while ago, she has a different role, etc. But to suggest it’s not relevant is pretty weird. (Just from a practical perspective, if I were an AOL investor, I’d be worried the company would be liable for her bad judgment.) In what world is this not relevant?

      Jeff, do you think this is relevant? I understand that you admire Huffington’s business, but do you admire her as a journalist? Had you heard about these charges relating to her books (and it’s fine if you haven’t – I’m just curious)?

    • Andy Freeman

      > But plagiarism is professional behavior – it’s very relevant.

      It’s professional behavior for a journalist, but Huffington isn’t being hired as a journalist, she’s being hired as an editor in chief. Let’s come back to that.

      > Here, I think you’d have to differentiate accidental plagiarism (taking a sentence or two, not giving proper credit) that happens to many journalists once or twice in a career from the deliberate, repeated copying of the kind Huffington engaged in.

      I thought that I had made it more than clear that I’m not quibbling about how much a plagarist she is. I’m not. I’ll go further – I think that she’s proven to be a crappy journalist in several ways, not just because she’s a serious plagarist.

      My point is that she’s already proven to be an effective editor in chief. Any argument that concludes that she can’t be a good editor in chief is wrong, no matter how much that argument is believed by journalists.

      Said argument has two parts. Plagarists can’t be effective editor in chief and Huffington is a plagarist. The latter is clearly true so the former must be false.

      Huffington may fail at AOL, but that failure won’t be because she’s a plagarist.

      • Nanker Phelge

        >>>My point is that she’s already proven to be an effective editor in chief. Any argument that concludes that she can’t be a good editor in chief is wrong, no matter how much that argument is believed by journalists.

        This is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. How has she proven to be an effective editor in chief? Most of the content is lousy, and the stuff she’s proud of is fairly undistinguished. What you mean is that she’s a good _publisher_. (Or at least good at selling at the height of the market for SEO-focused sites.) There’s a big difference.

        It’s a publisher’s job to make money and Huffington sort of did; ie, she sold high, but no one has seen any details about annual profit. OK, fair enough. It’s the job of an editor in chief to produce a quality publication. I guess you could make an argument, but it would be a long, slow slog uphill.

      • Andy Freeman

        > It’s the job of an editor in chief to produce a quality publication. I guess you could make an argument, but it would be a long, slow slog uphill.

        You seem to think that quality is all-important and that “higher” is better. It’s not. The correct quality for “People” is different than the correct quality for The Economist (for example).

        It’s also important to find the “correct” quality and figure out how to support it. That’s not just the publisher’s job – the editor in chief, who is responsible for the content as a whole, has an essential role.

  • Mark G. Atkins

    Jeff Jarvis (“whoever you are”) :-)

    I am an avid reader of your blog and have never commented before, but I have to comment now that Nanker Phelge has raised some interesting points and asked you some specific questions to you but you just evade him for some reason. If anyone should be banned, it should be Andy Freeman. He is obviously a trouble maker. I can’t even believe the stuff he writes.

    I don’t know what it is about Nanker Phelge that gets your goat. Perhaps you can enlighten us, but he has just asked a few simple questions that seem like they would be right up your alley.

    Again, love the blog. Keep it up! Be well. Love you on TWIG too!

    Mark

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      I have better things to do.

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>Huffington points out that said intelligence hasn’t translated into an ability to make money doing journalism.

    She’s also criticized their coverage, which is far better than hers.

    >>>I think that Huffington Post is crap journalism. That said, it did satisfy the first rule of journalism, namely, stay in business. That makes it better than all of the orgs that are circling the drain.

    I don’t see much evidence of that. First, the Huffington Post says it only made money in 2010, and we don’t know how much. We don’t know how it will continue now that there’s pushback against its feudal business model and it’s spending more money on salaries.

    And there are some news organizations that aren’t circling the drain: Bloomberg, the WSJ, and the FT, among others. They all charge for content. I believe the Economist also does well, although I haven’t looked at any numbers.

    All of those organizations do great journalism _and_ make money. As a professor of journalism – not business – that’s what Jeff should respect. Why offer the spotlight to a hack like Huffington?

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  • http://nevients.hostoi.com/ Nevie

    I wouldn’t mind if at some point, a way and a willingness would be put in place to make their value more monetary.

    Go for it – build that place youself.

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