November 29, 2008

Huffington: New Media Brings Out Best Of Traditional Journalism

Arianna Huffington, creator of the popular blog, The Huffington Post, believes that both old and new media are joining forces to bring out the best in one another.

According to Ms. Huffington, bloggers are growing in stature in the world of traditional media, while journalists are increasingly moving into the world of blogging. 

"There's this real convergence, where basically you found that the best and most accurate rose to the top, whether it originated from Time magazine or from Nate Silver's 538.com, which did not exist before the election," she told Reuters, referring to the 538.com Web site that gathered and analyzed political polling data during the 2008 election.

"The convergence is going to keep growing, as we saw in this election period, two years and four years from now, I'm sure," she added.

"They have to share the power."

Huffington's new book, entitled "The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging," will be released on Tuesday. Published by Simon & Schuster, the book is a blogging guide that provides a wide range of advice on starting a blog and getting noticed. Huffington also shares her own views as the creator of one of the Web's most influential blogs.  

The Huffington Post, also known as HuffPo, gained prominence during the 2008 presidential election.  Its "Off The Bus" feature experimented with citizen journalism by including stories from the campaign trail written by thousands of amateurs.

One of HuffPo's more pivotal campaign moments came when a volunteer contributor recorded Senator Barack Obama's speech at a fundraiser in which he said people in small towns "cling to guns or religion" out of bitterness.

"Blogging has been the greatest breakthrough in popular journalism since Tom Paine," wrote Huffington in the book's introduction, referring to Paine's 1776 pamphlet "Common Sense", which significantly helped promote American independence.

Although Ms. Huffington is no enemy of traditional journalism, she is not neutral on the matter of old media vs. new media.

"The vast majority of mainstream journalists head in the direction the assignment desk points them," she writes in the book's introduction.

"In contrast, bloggers are armed with a far more effective piece of access than a White House press credential: passion."

The book emphasizes the transparency and propinquity of blogging compared with traditional media.  It touches on some of the blogging world's struggles with standards and sourcing, but focuses on the personal and political benefits of large numbers of online voices.

"The new cannot entirely replace the old nor produce the results of time-honored investigative journalism," Huffington said.

Nora Ephron, an author and HuffPo contributor, describes in the book how she learned the difference between blogging and writing for magazines or books.

"One of the reasons for blogging was to start the conversation and to create the community that comes together to briefly talk about things they might not be talking about if you hadn't written your blog," she wrote.

"A blog was a soap bubble, meant to last just a moment or two."

Ms. Huffington said she found that "it was utterly liberating to find a place where the random thought is honored."

"Blogging allows anyone without access to Reuters or Time magazine to have a voice, and that is really what is significant," she added.

"The new media will continue to allow people who otherwise would not have a voice to have a voice, and that's not something that's going to wear off."


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