Old media targets new media in new quarrel
It is the battle of old media vs. the new. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller really wants you to know that he’s super important and hates adorable kitten videos.
A mêlée between Keller and the Huffington Post has taken to the web. Keller, representing old media, has lashed out at Arianna Huffington and her Huffington Post. He lambasted online news, saying it amounted to little more than mere aggregation and posts of gossip and kitten videos to gain web traffic and numbers. He alleged aggregation sites steel content from elsewhere in the same way Somali pirates take from cargo ships. Huffington responded. She called the attack “exceptionally misinformed” and pointed-out, “HuffPo [Huffington Post] had 148 full-time editors, writers, and reporters engaged in the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism. As long ago as 2009, Frank Rich praised the work of our reporters in his column. Paul Krugman more recently singled out the work of our lead finance writer. Columbia Journalism Review has credited our work for advancing the public's understanding of the national foreclosure crisis, and a pair of our Washington reporters recently received a major journalism prize. Matthew Yglesias, Felix Salmon, Catherine Rampell, are among the many others who have cited the work of our reporters.”Her point? The Huffington Post is more than mere aggregation and cute kittens. It is journalism. The Huffington Post and AOL News, which recently merged, have over 70 percent more unique web visitors than the New York Times website. In addition, the Huffington Post and AOL News combined page views for January 2011 alone were double the views of the New York Times.It is quite possible Keller’s anger is rooted in jealousy and a fear of becoming increasing irrelevant in the media landscape. Chris Chambers, a lecturer at Georgetown University in Washington, DC said it’s more complicated that old vs. new big media names. “A lot more people go see a stupid romantic comedy than a complex drama”, he said, explaining the visitor gap between Huffington Post and New York Times visitors. Chambers explained most media outlets have cut back on original reporting and begun to use aggregating due to smaller staffs and other cutbacks. In addition, the Ney York Times has lost some of its biggest reporters to the Huffington Post.The Huffington Post does aggregate and share, but they do also conduct their own reporting. In addition, Chambers said the Huffington Post focuses less on gossip than Keller alleged. Both are right and wrong, argued Chambers. “He [Keller] is being a bit too simplistic. She is probably being a bit too high and mighty. I think the truth is n the middle somewhere.” Both news products are different and operate differently. Both create content, but in different ways. However, most people are not looking for New York Times style analysis. They are looking for news to validate their views and approach, something online news media often satisfies. Everything is moving towards the middle. You need the kittens, you need Charlie Sheen, but you need the real news,” explained Chambers. “I think they both win.”