The Huffington Post, which began in 2005 with a meager $1 million investment and has grown into one of the most heavily visited news Web sites in the country, is being acquired by AOL in a deal that creates an unlikely pairing of two online media giants.I don't think anyone can argue that HuffPo isn't huge. It is an enormously successful site, and there's no question that it's managed to draw lots of eyeballs.
The two companies completed the sale Sunday evening and announced the deal just after midnight on Monday. AOL will pay $315 million, $300 million of it in cash and the rest in stock. It will be the company’s largest acquisition since it was separated from Time Warner in 2009.
Arianna Huffington, the cable talk show pundit, author and doyenne of the political left, will take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group. The arrangement will give her oversight not only of AOL’s national, local and financial news operations, but also of the company’s other media enterprises like MapQuest and Moviefone.
What it isn't is all that good. Its headlines often misrepresent the content of the articles to draw more attention to them. Its health and wellness section is rife with ridiculous pseudoscience and celebrity hooey. In less than twenty seconds I found this article about "doctors" of homeopathy, for whom I have roughly the same degree of collegial respect as your friendly neighborhood witch doctor. This kind of content needs less credibility and exposure, not more.
Further, I'm not sure I understand why Arianna is going to be in charge of content at AOL. HuffPo traffics largely in content generated elsewhere, and then tarted up with an inflammatory, eye-catching headline. True, she has lots of famous friends willing to write pieces of questionable quality for her, but being a well-connected self-promoter isn't necessarily a sign of editorial savvy.
Arianna Huffington is the left's Mitt Romney, pretty much willing to take whichever view is ascendant. While she is ambitious and well-spoken, I am skeptical that she is all that insightful or talented. On the other hand, this can't work out any worse than AOL's Time Warner fiasco.