In addition to being a best-selling author, a visionary, and a whirlwind of charisma, Arianna Huffington is a relentless promoter of her own efforts.That’s not a bad thing, just a fact.
The Huffington Post leader was at it again today, crediting new media for bringing down Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation.
She explained during a luncheon at the National Press Club.
“It was new media that played a huge part in bringing the News of the World down so fast,” Huffington said.
“It was amazing watching what was happening on Twitter. The hashtag #notw within moment started getting thousands of tweets and pressure on advertisers to leave and literally I was watching as advertiser after advertiser was leaving. I stopped counting at number 39 because I knew that was probably going to be enough and it was.”
And all that is true, but claiming new media brought down Murdoch is ridiculous.
The Guardian deserves all the credit. It was their story from the beginning, their story in the middle, and will be their story at the end, wherever this ends. (Newsweek has a great account of how the paper broke the story.)
New media played a role in spreading the story, but the British newspaper did the heavy lifting for years.
Huffington, approriately, does say it was the Guardian‘s good work that got the story, but then she’s off touting new media again.
“It was broken at the time when the Guardian was going to embrace a digital-first strategy. This was an old institution that had completely embraced new media. It broke the story by doing what new media does best, which is obsessively staying on the story. This story is years old. Most publications had moved on. Most publications had moved on. But the unique ability of new media is to stay on a story and to doggedly stay on a story until we have an impact and until we break through. That’s what the Guardian did.”
Saying that publications didn’t follow stories before the internet age is absurd. They did, they just did not publish on the extreme, real-time tracking and updating that we have now. That doesn’t mean, however, that the information didn’t appear in the next day’s paper. The Guardian did not break the NotW story by live blogging it. They broke it by reporting. (Also, note how Huffington extends the argument from the Guardian to “we.” We see what you did there, Arianna. Very tricky. She really is good, isn’t she?)
Huffington did make one important point about the combination of new and old: “The future belongs to those who bring together the best of old media – fact checking, accuracy, transparency – and the best of new media, which is interactivity, engagement with our readers, and real-time provision of information.”
That we can buy. Whether the Huffington Post is doing so is another matter entirely.
Video below. Huffington’s comments start around the 16:30 mark.