Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

#AOLHuffPost May Succeed — Commenting and Context Win on Local Level

If you find yourself waking up at night wondering if AOLHuffingtonPost will succeed in the bad world of media, this article about local and social will offer you reprieve from your anxiety spits.  The blogger goes through a recent (Friday, July 22) public presentation by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Huffpost CEO Arianna Huffington and offers a few scattered seeds of hope.

Here they are for you, extracted to simplify things:

At the time of the merger, the companiesclaimed they would have a combined base of 117 million unique visitors per month and 270 million worldwide.

Huffington said Friday 1,300 journalists are on the media group’s payroll, and since the merger the company added 160 journalists. She said Armstrong has a quota of bloggers to bring to the site. She did not say how many.

She added that sites have 7,000 bloggers at the local level and are about to hit 1 million comments. She said new media and social media “all about engagement.”

Here’s more:

For local news efforts, AOL’s, which Huffington is directing, has expanded to 859 sites and the two company heads said they foresee more expansion into local markets in the future. The Huffington Post recently launched a UK edition. The company also has set up 33 sites in US presidential primary election states, according to Huffington.

Basically, as media goes local, it fits very well with the mobile technology that we use to communicate with each other. It also goes very well with mobile web apps and company launches like the Foursquare and American Express deal.  Learning and sharing information will become more and more about relationships: see Jon Bischke and Skillshare, growing in popularity with avid users and teachers.  We also have the highly praised rise of Google+.

Local, small, personalized, human. You name it. People want real information in an era that looks smaller, but looks smaller on a wider scale. In other words, everybody’s doing it, on a smaller scale. So, what media organizations are primed to take that territory, make it granular, navigable as a community and instantaneously delivered through search, tagging, and algorithms?

Well, it won’t be the NYTimes. They are a very big organization, grappling always with advertising revenue, and the ethics of the old school journalism that they are struggling to uphold. Not that there’s anything wrong with old school, ethical, first person reporting journalism. It’s just that it doesn’t work in a fast system that operates in an atomized environment.

Someone’s media empire is going to have to be able to report on, investigate, write about, provide links to anything that anyone in those smaller local circles will find compelling, on an international scale, a local scale, and on a personal scale.  I believe that AOL and Huffington Post are not tied to the old school way of thinking. They do a really good job of collecting, curating, and then offering community-grown commenting and context. That’s what’s missing in a 24-hour news cycle that is more answerable to corporate demands than community concerns.  That’s why someone at the Washington Post calls the AOL Huffington Post merger a troubled marriage. Old interests. Old view points.

I noticed the other day that a popular news station in NYC has started advertising itself as the channel that listens to its viewers. Maybe a little too late for that folks. If I want to know what’s happening anywhere, like in Oslo during the domestic terrorist attacks, I go to hyperlocal sites, Twitter, or anything that is one degree away from a person who lives there.  I think Huffington and Armstrong saw that a long time ago.

I invest in AOL stock.



Filed under: Influence

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