Is Arianna going to huff and puff and blow the traditional media down? According to the New York Times (reg. required), the Huffington Post blog network is getting into the journalism business in a big way. The site only started 18 months ago but has become a serious online player, with 2.3 million unique visitors a month — more than some mainstream newspaper websites.
Huffington says it has hired Melinda Henneberger, a former New York Times reporter and Newsweek staffer, as its political editor, and plans to hire “a number” of other journalists to help it produce online journalism “with attitude.” The Post is already doing something along those lines with its Eat The Press feature, whose editor Rachel Sklar is a Canadian transplant.
This is obviously what Huffington has planned for the $5-million in financing the site got from Softbank Capital earlier this year (it also has funding from Greycroft Partners, backers of Rafat Ali’s online media shop, PaidContent). Arianna said she will be hiring investigative journalists and reporters with video expertise. They will travel, have deadlines and (gasp!) get paid, just like “real” journalists.
Coincidentally, there’s been a lot of talk over the past few days about Kevin Maney’s recent piece for USA Today about what to do with newspapers — which my friend and former journalist Mark Evans discusses here. In my view, newspapers had better get their running shoes on, because online media like Huffington Post and PaidContent are already halfway down the track.
As Jeff Jarvis notes, this announcement comes just over a week after two senior journalists left the Washington Post to join an online media startup that plans to focus on multi-platform political reporting.