Nine months ago, AOL swooped in and purchased the Huffington Post for $310 million.How are things going?
Well, the quality of journalism is increasing, but there is still a massive divide between those who want great journalism and those who want clicks.
Joe Pompeo’s excellent deep dive on Capital New York provides a snapshot of the confusion:
Next up was [business editor Peter] Goodman, who channeled the sort of gospel one would expect from someone who spent “two decades in traditional newspaper journalism,” according to the bio on his personal website: Be thorough. Check your facts. Worry about getting it right, not about getting clicks. And if you have any doubt as to whether you can aggregate a story fairly, no matter how big the story may be, better to leave it to the competitors. The upshot, according to insiders familiar with the meeting, was that traffic is not the most important thing, and that page views should be earned by producing content that is trustworthy and compelling, not merely sensational.
But then Huffington Post’s chief technology officer, Paul Berry, who was running late, and had therefore missed Goodman’s speech, showed up and put in his two cents: Traffic is the most important thing.
He explained that if a story gets a lot of page views that means it’s good: Quality and clicks correlate directly. Goodman listened from the sidelines without interrupting. It was awkward.
“It seemed to sum up this cognitive dissonance that’s going on between these two theories on how to do things,” an attendee later recalled.
Toward the end of the session, Goodman stepped in to clarify that what Berry really meant was that quality content, aggregated or otherwise, would inspire steady traffic growth over the long haul. Some staffers left the meeting scratching their heads anyway.
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