Sinéad O’Connor has a moving piece up at The Huffington Post. Please read it.
UPDATE: I just said this below in the comments but it really does bear saying here: I should say that I’m one of these typically low-church protestant types, but that I find much to love in the contemplative traditions of the Catholic Church and other Christian communities. I hope my posting of this piece doesn’t come across as anti-Catholic by any stretch. I was just very moved by it, and impressed with its cogency. A far cry, indeed, from what was done on SNL all those years ago.
If you’re not regular Huffington Post reader, you might not notice the changes in the masthead design evident below. The AOL-HuffPost merger became official official this week (they’re, like, totally listed as “married” on Facebook), and the changes are rolling out.
A few days ago, Andrew Breitbart ran a piece on Huffington about the the liberal bias of NPR and the MSM (that’s mainstream media, in case your blogging IQ remains fixed in the pre-Swift Boat-era) with regards to the Tea Party. I’ve said all along that HuffPo has been positioning itself as a “beyond left and right” general interest portal/magazine for some time now, and that the AOL purchase wouldn’t mean the watering down of some hard-left new media beacon. But even I didn’t expect to see a piece like Brietbart’s just yet. Eventually, yes. Just not yet. But the more I think about it, the more sense it seems to make to make these changes sooner rather than later.
Speaking of changes, the first thing regular Huff readers will notice is the change in font, style, and organization of the section (vertical) links in the banners of the home page and each vertical. The entire presentation is streamlined, and some verticals have been bumped off the main masthead’s real-estate and issued a spot on drop-down menus. (Religion, for example, is now a drop-down under “Living.”) You’ll also note that some of the drop-down items link directly to other AOL properties. While I understand the need for integration, this aspect does feel rather patchworked (no pun intended). As a placeholder for some sort of unified branding across platforms and sites, I suppose it’s fine. It achieves goal #1 for AOL in this stage of the merger: show Huffington readers links to AOL’s other content sources. But loading TechCrunch via a drop-down link from the HuffPost Tech box is clunky, and the style disparities between sites could be jarring for people expecting to stay on huffingtonpost.com.
I’m sure, in time, AOL and the newly-formed Huffington Post Media Group therein will iron these things out. But for right now, this first phase of integration feels less like an upgrade of the “The Internet Newspaper” and more like its portalization. I don’t mean to be down on you, AOL-Huff (that is, I sure do want you to hire me for full-time winning analysis), and I want you to know that I’ve been pulling for you, AOL, ever since the mid-90s when all my techie friends were total ISP snobs. Where are their precious BBSes now, old friend? Exactly.
- Twitter’s Biz Stone To Lead AOL Cause Program (mediabistro.com)
When I was in divinity school, Randall Balmer paraphrased Bart Giamatti’s prescient insight about baseball and the immigrant experience both being quests (even spiritual quests) for home. That always stuck with me. In this piece from 2011, Lia Petridis Maiello talks to Lawrence Baldassaro about his book on the concept.
I’ll be honest. When I logged onto The Huffington Post around 1 am this morning, my jaw just about hit the floor (the dog was in the way). I’m still thinking about what AOL’s acquisition of Huffington and the installation of Arianna Huffington as editor-in-chief of most (all?) of AOL’s online editorial content is going to mean for everyone involved. A few things it won’t mean, as far as I can tell:
TechCrunch, Engadget, Movifone, PopEater, Patch etc. are going to become repositories for a particular political agenda. No, they won’t.
The Huffington Post is going to, like, change so much, and in all the wrong ways. It might change a lot, and in some ways, I hope it does. But it’s not going to cease being what it’s been branding itself as for sometime now, a “beyond left and right” (Arianna’s words, not mine) general interest destination with a distinctive point of view and activist spirit. Will it continue to lean “liberal”? Of course. Has that been its main focus for the last year? On political and social matters, sure, but HuffPost has grown in that time to include 21 separate verticals, four of which focus on local news in urban areas. Like I said yesterday, it’s just not the case that the corporatization of the Huffington properties means that Ms. Huffington’s priorities have shifted. They’ve been clear for some time, and were made even more explicit by the merger. The Huffington Post, as a company, wants to cover a wider range of topics and engage a wider audience. It’s been doing that for at least the past two years, and the AOL deal means it can go on doing it in bigger, better ways. If you’re interested in seeing a hot media property complete its evolution from political niche to top-of-mind general interest, news, and information, keep your eyes on Huffington. If you’re looking for the Daily Kos, well, there’s always…the Daily Kos.
I wrote a new post for the media vertical right after reading the merge announcement last night. The editors put it up this morning, and I want to thank them for their quick turnaround. Disclosure: like most of the people creating HuffPost’s content, I don’t get paid for what I do there. I don’t have an agenda, though as a content creator, I obviously do want the venture to succeed. More thoughts on all of this as I have them.
- AOL Acquires Huffington Post for $315 Million in Cash (thenextweb.com)