Dec 11 - 17, 2008 
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Thin Line

By Simon McCormack

Huffington Post Pummels Newspapers

Let me get this straight: It's becoming less and less profitable to own a newspaper, but a website that talks about newspapers is a cash cow.

The website Advertising Age reports the online-only Huffington Post is now worth more than $100 million. That makes the left-leaning news blog more valuable than several newspaper companies.

Perhaps the Post should share some of its newfound wealth with struggling papers.

Part of the reason the Huffington Post is so profitable is it's heavily dependent on links to stories that it doesn't pay for. Many of those links are the work of paid reporters at papers worth less than the Post itself.

It's still not nearly as profitable as media giant New York Times Co. (worth $1 billion), but the Huffington Post is a healthy company. The question is, what's going to happen if newspapers continue to shut their doors? The Post has proven to be a valuable source for aggregated news and commentary, but what will be left to link to when that news disappears?

Perhaps the Post should share some of its newfound wealth with struggling papers. That's probably not part of the company's profit model. What's more likely is at some point the Post will probably hire investigative journalists of its own.

Not Playing FAIR

While we're on the subject, the Huffington Post is being criticized for a heavy gender bias. The media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) says the Post needs to do a better job of including female voices on its website. FAIR conducted a study that found that between July and September, only 23 percent of the blog's bylines belonged to women.

If the Huffington Post isn't adequately representing women, who will?

The study says there was a female byline on the site at all times, but there was never an equal number of male and female bylines. FAIR says the percentage of female bylines on the Post's blog is comparable to mainstream media outlets like Newsweek. It's also slightly higher than the surprisingly low percentages found in the New York Times, (17 percent) Time magazine (13 percent) and the Washington Post (10 percent).

The Huffington Post was co-founded by a woman (Arianna Huffington), and its editorial content is more progressive than the mainstream media's. This makes news of its gender inequality all the more unsettling. If the Post isn't adequately representing women, who will? The blog's financial might is increasing, and its influence continues to grow with its burgeoning readership, which has hit 8.8 million people every month. As a huge component of the new media movement, the Huffington Post should lead the way and make sure half its editorial content comes from women.

 
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