Michael Massing, The New York Review of Books, June 4, 2015


In traditional media, as star journalists retire there have been also massive layoffs. Print-newspapers are clamping down on labor, creating insecurity while online journalism is clearly disrupting the business. Online journalism provides “speed, immediacy, interactivity, boundless capacity and global reach”, along with new business opportunities but, is its quality at risk?

Once a start-up, The Huffington Post, the most visited digital-native news site with an editorial staff of more than 500 and 13 international editions, is undergoing an identity crisis. Its innovative concept, using any content from the web and “free” collaborations, is throttling the site: informative and socially driven content mixed with gossip and superficial material is turning it into a quagmire. Arianna Huffington hired three former staff members of The New Republic to solve a recurrent situation which happened before in 2009 and 2011. In 2009, it set up a nonprofit Investigative Fund with a $2 million budget, but its stories never unfolded in a quick-click environment. In 2011, the site hired big-name writers and editors with generous wages to improve the quality of its journalism. Most of them are gone. Peter Goodman, who came from The Times, argued that “the HuffPost is no longer fully committed to original reporting; that in a system governed largely by metrics”. Huffington Post argued that they were “a poor fit in an all-digital operation”. Still, the pressure for profit, by increasing ad revenues, led to the loss of readers and perpetual motion.

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