Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post New media winners will combine new ways with the
best practices of their traditional counterparts,
she tells Brunswick Director Lane Hudson.
Arianna Huffington and her partners launched HuffingtonPost.com in May 2005 amid considerable uncertainty regarding its future.
In the time since, HuffPost, as it is known, has grown to be one of the most influential outlets for political news and opinion in the United States, particularly with the progressive government now in power in Washington. More people in the American capital read HuffingtonPost.com than read the Wall Street Journal, it is the most ‘linked to’ site on the internet, and it generates as many as 20m unique visitors each month.
HuffPost has more than 3,000 bloggers today, a dramatic increase from 300 three years ago, and over 60 paid staffers, of whom 38 work in editorial, including seven reporters. Importantly, the site has also ventured into news aggregation, video blogging, investigative journalism, and live commentary on television networks.
Huffington herself, named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine in 2006, is now arguably one of the most powerful figures in the news business worldwide.
In mid-2009 she was invited to give testimony to the US Congress at a hearing on the future of journalism in the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet chaired by Senator John Kerry.
Old media has long had standards of fairness and accuracy promulgated by respected industry associations. How do you see new media adopting these kinds of standards?
The best journalists working online embrace the ways of new media, including transparency and immediacy, while never letting go of the best practices of traditional media, including fairness and accuracy. For instance, all of The Huffington Post’s bloggers must adhere to the highest standards of accuracy. Any factual errors must be corrected within 24 hours or a blogger’s password is revoked. Checks and balances to ensure accuracy in online reporting are continuing to develop, and the web has proven to be an effective enforcer when it comes to shedding light on stories that aren’t true. And while HuffPost is not a member of a media ethics organization, our reporters and bloggers know that they must always follow journalism’s best practices.
How do you rebut those who say journalistic ethics are compromised and editorial resources constrained on the internet?
It’s true that the internet makes it possible for anyone with a computer to express his or her views, and for those views to potentially reach a large audience. But online news sites must adhere to the same journalistic principles as their traditional media counterparts – or suffer the consequences. Indeed, I feel that in many ways online news sites are much more responsive to issues of accuracy. Errors are corrected much faster, and changes are shown transparently – not tucked away in some hard-to-find corrections column.