I’ve never been a big fan of The Huffington Post. Sure, I used to quote Arianna Huffington during college debates (I had a well-earmarked and highlighted copy of Pigs at the Trough in my backpack for a whole semester) and found her to be a strong, successful woman back before HuffPo started. When I heard about the website, I was excited at first, thinking it was going to be something new and radical, much like Alternet and Common Dreams were when I was in college. And it sort of was at first, I suppose, with the majority of the pieces running along the progressive lines.
But then HuffPo started to get ridiculous. Celebrity gossip could (and still can) be found on nearly every page. The majority of the articles are written by males, which has been a bone of contention among the liberal community for quite a while. As entertaining as some of the slideshows and rating systems are, the majority of the site sucks, so I’m not that let down knowing that AOL is buying HuffPo out for $315 million.
All of that said, it’s still sort of depressing knowing that one of the Internet’s best known progressive websites—even if it’s only by name, for the most part—is being sold to a conglomerate like AOL. Arianna Huffington will remain on as both editor in chief and president, but that’s sort of like Michael Moore serving as the lead filmmaker for Fox. If it turns out to be something like a progressive music group selling their music to, say, an auto manufacturer just to use the funds acquired to protest them, well, it could get interesting, but I don’t see that happening.
I’ve written for a couple of media companies that went under due to lack of funds, but all had small teams and considerably smaller budgets than HuffPo. I’m pretty sure that if any media outlet could do it, HuffPo could have certainly stood against economic adversity. Ironically, Huffington says that the merger will mean a more “real news” approach rather than a liberal perspective, though with AOL at its head, a right-leaning style can’t be that far away.
This feels much more like a bottom line than a desperate merger to me. Still, this loss of a large hub for progressives—or, at least, this strange warping of said hub—is a reminder of how important it is to support independent media so instead of selling out, they’ll continue with their activist spirit and general rebel attitude.