Skip to comments.NYT: A Boldface Name Invites Others to Blog With Her ['The Huffington Post']
Posted on 04/24/2005 5:06:56 PM PDT by West Coast Conservative
Get ready for the next level in the blogosphere.
Arianna Huffington, the columnist and onetime candidate for governor of California, is about to move blogging from the realm of the anonymous individual to the realm of the celebrity collective.
She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9.
Having prominent people join the blogosphere, Ms. Huffington said in an interview, "is an affirmation of its success and will only enrich and strengthen its impact on the national conversation." Among those signed up to contribute are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
"This gives me a chance to sound off with a few words or a long editorial," said Mr. Cronkite, 88, the longtime "CBS Evening News" anchorman. "It's a medium that is new and interesting, and I thought I'd have some fun."
In some ways, Ms. Huffington's venture is a direct challenge to the popular Drudge Report. Started nearly a decade ago by Matt Drudge, the Drudge Report lifts potentially hot news from obscurity and blares it across a virtual "front page," usually before anyone else. While his squibs are sometimes cast with a conservative slant, his "developing" scoops often send the mainstream media scrambling to catch up.
Ms. Huffington's effort - to be called the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com) - will also seek to ferret out potentially juicy items and give them legs. In fact, she has hired away Mr. Drudge's right-hand Web whiz, Andrew Breitbart, who used to be her researcher.
But unlike the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post will be interactive, offering news as well as commentary from famous people and allowing the masses to comment too, although not always directly with the celebs. Notables will oversee certain sections, with Gary Hart, the former Colorado senator, for example, taking the lead on national security issues. R. O. Blechman, the magazine illustrator, has designed the site. All material will be free and available on archives.
While many of the bloggers are on the left of the political spectrum, some conservatives have also signed on, among them Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of The Washington Times, and David Frum, the writer who coined the phrase "axis of evil" when he was a speechwriter for President Bush.
In a solicitation letter to hundreds of people in her eclectic Rolodex, Ms. Huffington said the site "won't be left wing or right wing; indeed, it will punch holes in that very stale way of looking at the world."
This is not unlike the persona that Ms. Huffington, who left the Republican Party nine years ago, tried to craft in the 2003 California governor's race, when she ran as an independent. She came in fifth, with less than 1 percent of the vote, to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. She describes herself now as a "progressive Democrat" who rejects party orthodoxy, but the site is likely to start as a watering hole for liberals.
"This was borne in part out of frustration with the elections, the last one and the one before that," said Kenneth B. Lerer, a former executive vice president of AOL Time Warner, who helped found the Huffington Post. "A lot of people didn't know what to do after those campaigns, and this will allow them to enter the dialogue."
Mr. Lerer and Ms. Huffington will manage the Post, with Mr. Lerer overseeing a staff of half a dozen people in a loft in lower Manhattan. Ms. Huffington and Mr. Breitbart are based in Los Angeles.
Mr. Lerer said the Post, which will generate revenue by selling advertising space, was being financed initially by him, Ms. Huffington and 10 others he identified as "friends and family." The bloggers will not be paid.
Group blogs are not altogether new; what is new is brand-name people writing them. But it is just this aspect of the Post that is raising questions among Web watchers about whether it can succeed. Jay Rosen, who writes about blogs on his Web site (www.pressthink.org), said he doubted that celebrities would be driven by the same passion that drives many regular bloggers.
"These aren't exactly people who lack voice or visibility in our culture," he said in an e-mail message. "Gwyneth Paltrow has no incentive to speak candidly and alienate future ticket buyers. Barry Diller doesn't have time to hunt down juicy links for his readers. And where does Jon Corzine fit into any conversation those two might be having?"
Mr. Drudge said he was "excited" for Ms. Huffington. "The Internet is still in its infancy," he said by e-mail. "It's wide open."
But he suggested that Hollywood types would not be able to sustain a successful Web site. "I suspect the Hollywood players will find it harder to maintain a compelling webspot" than to open big at the box office, he wrote. "There are not simply thousands of theaters you have to pack in - there are millions of Internet users and eyeballs to dazzle."
Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon.com, an online news magazine that features, among other things, group blogs about politics, commended Ms. Huffington for bringing "energy and creativity" to the blog phenomenon, and adding star power.
"What she's smart about is that reader interaction is really critical, so talking about it as a blog shows that she understands where it's going right now," she said. "But she has to be careful about the perception of this as a celebrity blog."
She warned that some who promise to blog never will, and others may have difficulty translating their voices. Those factors, plus reader reaction, could alter what the Post becomes. "You think you're shaping the Web, but the Web shapes you," she said.
In her solicitation letter to bloggers, Ms. Huffington promised them no heavy lifting. "You're actually already doing the hardest work of a blogger: having interesting opinions and fresh takes on the hot stories of the day," she wrote. "We'll just provide a megaphone."
Many of the bloggers are tech-savvy and young, and most entries will be true blogs - unedited and in real time. She said she was not worried about having enough material.
"We're not dependent on 1, 2 or even 10 people to keep posting throughout the day," Ms. Huffington said. "By having so many interesting people taking part, there will always be somebody posting something interesting."
Ms. Ephron, the writer, who is one of the bloggers, said it was this casual aspect of the venture that appealed to her. "The idea that one might occasionally be able to have a small thought and a place to send it, without having to write a whole essay, seems like a very good idea," she said.
She also sees the Post as a chance for the left to balance out the right.
"In the Fox era, everything we can do on our side to even things out, now that the media is either controlled by Rupert Murdoch or is so afraid of Rupert Murdoch that they behave as if they were controlled by him, is great," she said. But sometimes, she added, "I may merely have a cake recipe."
Ms. Walsh of Salon.com said that managing the politics of the site could be tricky. The initial enthusiasm is likely to be among the left, who feel like they are getting kicked by Drudge and the right, she said. But the blogosphere is independent and skeptical and rejects political cant, she said, adding, "You don't want to be doing predictable journalism and pandering to people."
Another trick will be balancing the bloggers' ability to put forth their ideas with their desire for protection from abusive comments. Jonah Peretti, who is overseeing the site's technology, said the bloggers would decide for themselves whether to engage with readers. "It's something we'll experiment with," he said. "We want to make sure there's a productive, interesting dialogue and not just people ranting."
The Post will also set another blogging milestone: Ms. Huffington has signed a contract with Tribune Media Services, which syndicates her newspaper column, to syndicate parts of her blog to newspapers and their Web sites.
"Newspaper editors across the country are increasingly intrigued by the phenomenon of blogging and are open to finding ways to capitalize on the best of it," said John C. Twohey, the syndicate's vice president for editorial and operations.
But he said some editors were also uncomfortable with the unfiltered nature of blogs and that he had told Ms. Huffington it was a mistake for her to call the Post a blog.
As a result of that concern, Ms. Huffington said, while the bloggers will be unfiltered on the Post, they will be fact-checked and copy edited for the syndicate. Mr. Twohey said the syndicate would peddle the Post to potential clients not as a blog but as "daily excerpts from a longer-form Web site to which 300 prominent Americans are contributing." Running blogs through a grammarian's keyboard raises questions, of course, about whether they can translate to print without losing their immediacy and authenticity.
But those involved in the project seem prepared to let the site take its course. "It certainly is inspired by millions of people online who are writing away to their hearts' content," said Mr. Breitbart. "But if it doesn't look like a blog, it will become its own product unto itself."
Can we ask her how it feels to be so repulsive that she turned her husband into a homosexual?
More like a blowface name.
"Among those signed up to contribute are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman."
Oh, isn't this just lovely. Walter "Hanoi Hank" Cronkite, Warren "Airhead" Beatty, the skank Maggie Gyllenhaal, and others are going to add their two brain cells' worth to the blogosphere.
OK, whose got the over/under on how many days her "blog" will withstand the withering criticism of truth (care of FReeperdom) before they shut down the "interactive" part "allowing the masses to comment".
I give it 5 days before the interactive participation is shut down. This includes massive censorship of a DUmmie scale.
Does anyone know what happened to that website, and to Ms. Huffington? Wasn't she originally a conservative?
Arianna is an airhead.
What, exactly, has she "created"?
Yep. I was thinking the same thing. Once her blog gets FReeped, they will shut the interactive part off. Then it will just be some Drudge clone with the worthless opinion of Hollywood actors.
Freaking get over yourselves already. Haven't they figured out that conservatives already know that they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer? Now they want to put it all out there and prove us right every single day?
Bring it on Demwits!
Know what the difference is between a liberal and a puppy?
A puppy stops whining when it grows up.
Oh brother . . .
The Big Lie with all of this Hollywood "elite" nonsense is that these people along with the likes of Huffington think they "think deeper" than say someone who unloads palettes of mac n' cheese at 3:30 AM. They don't represent anything intellectual, they represent rich people with over-inflated egos. Nothing more. People in the entertainment industry confuse the money they make with their importance in the overall scheme of things.
There was a time when she espoused conservative beliefs, but she has gone of the reservation/her meds a long time ago. She became a whore for media attention and it warped her brain.
So she thinks.
I doubt people will bother to read her rubbish.
In the blogosphere, she and her elite media pals are no longer in control.
Cronkite and other media whores mentioned.
She was conservative when her Huffington husband was a Republican. His coming out coincided with her newfound liberalism.
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