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Exciting experiment or nothing new? Bloggers’ take on Huffington Post UK

Arianna Huffington is launching the UK version of her American blog-orientated news site the Huffington Post this week, and the move has sparked debate in the blogosphere.

Huffington launched the Canada arm last month, but Huffington Post UK will be the site’s first foray outside of North America, with a French version set to follow soon.

Speaking to Ian Burrell for the Independent, Paul Bradshaw, professor of online journalism at City University comments about the difference between UK and US media landscapes that may require a different approach.

“It’s going to be hard for The Huffington Post to communicate what they stand for,” says Bradshaw, who is not inclined to blog for the site. “In the UK they are known as the site that sold to AOL. In the US they might have been known as the site that offered an alternative voice but there’s a different media landscape over here.”

In the same piece, Brian Cathcart, who teaches journalism at Kingston University, adds:

“They will need some new ideas, some really inspired appointments, and to discover some talent. It doesn’t seem that the existing model in the US would offer us anything terribly exciting and new over here.”

Paul Bradshaw may not be persuaded to write for the site but blogger and podcaster Neville Hobson is. In a post titled On board with The Huffington Post UK, Hobson writes that he relishes being part of “a grand experiment”.

So what’s in it for me? To a great extent, I see it as being part of a grand experiment, contributing my opinion and commentary on topics that interest me and that will be published in an online medium that has huge scale and reach. It offers an opportunity for such opinion and commentary to reach many people who, frankly, would be unlikely to visit my blog.

It also means that I’ll be writing for a mainstream medium. That traditionally means you need to be a journalist, which I’m not. I don’t know yet who any of the other bloggers are who’ll be writing for the UK edition, but my guess is that a majority will not be journalists.

Overseas expansion does of course mean a clutch of new hires, but Bobbie Johnson of GigaOm views the operation as “low-risk”, and points to several reasons why.

Well, first, that Huffington Post UK is looking — on the surface, at least — more like a reworking of the current AOL UK operation than a brand new entity. That’s a low-risk strategy, but as I’ve previously argued, it might take more to make an impact in a highly competitive media market like Britain.

Secondly, it’s interesting that this team consists almost exclusively of young journalists, with very few of the high-level, experienced hands that Huffington has made a great play of luring over in the United States. There’s no equivalent, for example, to the likes of political heavy-hitter Howard Fineman, brought over from Newsweek, media reporting veteran Michael Calderone from Yahoo or award-winning reporter Trymaine Lee from the New York Times.

I asked my Twitter followers what they thought of the project, and received a variety of responses.

Adam Tinworth, Editorial Business Manager for Reed Business Information pointed out the possible disruption created by the launch.

 

 

Graphic designer and student journalist Jonathan Frost was very enthusiastic.

 

 

While subeditor Paul Wiggins was rather more succinct.

 

 

Finally, if you want to get involved in blogging for the Huffington Post when it hits UK shores, food journalist Andrew Webb has helpfully published the full requirements on his blog.

For now you can follow their progress via the dedicated Twitter account @HuffPostUK, whose first tweet had a distinctly non-UK feel to it.

 

Image of Arianna Huffington by Knight Foundation on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Disclosure: Joseph Stashko is a blogger for Huffington Post UK.

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  • I’d be interested in someone who has agreed to blog for free for HuffPo to outline their business plan.

    1. How is it going to bring in income, either directly or indirectly and when?

    2. How much do you expect to make from doing this?

    3. How long will you continue to blog for free if an income stream does not materialise (what is your exit strategy?)

    It strikes me that HuffPo will have its own answers to similar questions. It needs to make money, otherwise it will change what it is doing or stop altogether.

    Journalists have bills to pay too.

    Journalism.co.uk recently compiled a list of influential online journalists. There are automated social media rankings. I follow a lot of interesting and knowledgeable people online. This may sound mercenary but, at the end of the day, unless your profile and influence leads to an income, is it not just vanity publishing?

    Declaration: I freelance (paid) for a non-HuffPo AOL site and declined the offer to bog for free for HuffPo. I have had to turn down paid work too as I am booked up.

  • After nearly an half hour of ad-blockin­g just to get rid of all the pop-ups, ads, badges (who the hell cares that Alex Gartzia is a level 2 superuser, whatever the hell that means), social network promotions­, suggestion­s, video pics, selected bloggers etc etc etc just to be able to read a damn article hosted on the Huffington Post, I gave up. Having to get through so much fluff and nonsense just to read an article that originates elsewhere takes the cake. It reminds me why I stopped going there in the first place.

  • Piper

    I agree with Chris. Blogging for free for a major corporation like that has little appeal if you are a professional journalist or blogger. We all have to eat. Sure, it may be an outlet for brand new writers starting out and looking for a platform – I wrote theatre reviews as a young writer in exchange for the ticket years ago and we all have to start somewhere – but once you get a paid gig somewhere else, you move on.

  • What I did not say but should have is this. HuffPo is not very interesting. There, I said it.

  • Chie Elliott
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