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Posted at 12:13 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Arianna planning huge expansion of citizen journalism for 2012 campaign

By Greg Sargent

Arianna Huffington is planning to use AOL's infrastructure to launch a major expansion of citizen journalism in advance of the 2012 presidential campaign, she tells me in an interview, sharing new details about her vision of expanded political coverage in the wake of the merger with AOL.

Huffington described her plan as "Jeffersonian," and she says she plans to use AOL's Web site, a network of sites that cover local news at the granular level, as a vehicle for expansion modeled on HuffingtonPost's 2008 "Off the Bus" coverage. "Off the Bus" made a splash when candidate Barack Obama was caught on tape suggesting that economically distressed voters are "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion," and if Huffington has her way, she will oversee a massive increase in such coverage next year.

"We are going to dramatically accelerate this in 2012," said Huffington, who discussed the idea on a conference call yesterday with employees. "We will have thousands and thousands of people covering the election. Covering the Repulicans. Covering the Democrats. Just being transparent about it."

Huffington -- who said high-level editorial staffing decisions were still being worked out -- also provided the first clear glimpse of her plan to graft the HuffPo vision on to the AOL infrastructure. "Patch already has professional editors," she said, adding that freelancers across the country would work with those editors "the way that the Huffington Post pairs young reporters with established editors. It's something we can also do at the local level."

Huffington also sought to reassure HuffPo readers who are upset about the merger. As the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz reported today, many fear that it will ruin the site's political identity by replacing its freewheeling, edgy nature with something bland and corporate or causing it to move to the "center."

"AOL wanted to buy the Huffington Post because it loves the Huffington Post," she said. "If they wanted to buy the Huffington Post to change it, why pay $315 million?"

Yesterday Huffington told Politico's Keach Hagey that HuffPo was not about being left or right, and in her interview with me, she expanded on how that will fit in with her plans. She said that the new network of sites will aim to bring people of all political persuasions into the process who feel "disempowered at the national level."

The expansion of citizen journalism seems likely to expand the current model by which a massive amount of content is generated by unpaid freelancers who are looking to get their voices heard. If she gets her way, the site's current identity won't change, preserving the site's community feel but expanding it in new directions.

"The first thing I said about Huffington Post is that I don't want to talk to the choir," she said. "I wanted to use this platform to inform millions of people. Now that can be dramatically accelerated."

By Greg Sargent  | February 8, 2011; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  2012, Political media  
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AOL's stock just tanked. To be expected of course.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 8, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

AOL, as presently constituted, is tabloid junk, with a Rightward tilt. Their comments section is over run with people who are borderline pre literates foaming at the mouth. It makes the Plum Line seem like the letters section at the NY Review of Books.
Any attachment with Huffington can only point to a sign of improvement.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 8, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Re Arianna: Anyone who plays a talking bear on a Seth MacFarlane TV show can't be all bad...

Posted by: sbj3 | February 8, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

AOL wanted to buy the Huffington Post because it loves the Huffington Post," she said. "If they wanted to buy the Huffington Post to change it, why pay $315 million?"


Is she really that dumb, or is she just trying to put lipstick on her "take the money and run" pig?

Look at what AOL did to their previous giant partner.

Of course her HuffPo site had already become a trash dump, with at least as much TMZ type sleaze being covered, as serious news events.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 8, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Now back to some really political news coverage.

Rep. Posey Can’t Say If He Takes Govt. Health Care Because He Doesn’t ‘Know’ If He’s ‘A Federal Employee’

"Over the past few months, congressional Republicans have endured much criticism for privately accepting government-sponsored health insurance as they publicly railed against health care reform. First, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) unleashed an infamous tirade at a House Republican retreat and demanded to know why his government-run health plan would be delayed for 28 days after his swearing-in. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) responded by demanding that any member of Congress who voted to repeal health care reform also forgo government-sponsored health care for himself. However, of the 242 congressional GOPers who voted for repeal, just 14 have agreed to reject government health insurance.

When asked why they will continue to accept government-managed and subsidized health care while voting to strip such funding for regular citizens, Republicans in Congress have used any number of excuses. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) explained to ThinkProgress that he was only on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program because he was “actually lowering” premiums for older members of Congress. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) told the New York Daily News (without a hint of irony), “What am I, not supposed to have health care?[...] God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation. That can happen to anyone.” Most recently, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) was surprised to learn that her health insurance plan was subsidized by the government, but has no plans to turn it down regardless.

However, none of these excuses can compare to the one given by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL). ThinkProgress recently spoke with Posey, who gained notoriety in 2009 for sponsoring the original “birther bill” in Congress. We asked the congressmen if he plans to turn down government-subsidized health insurance for himself in light of his push to repeal health care reform. His response: “I don’t know. Am I a federal employee?”"

Posted by: Liam-still | February 8, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Liam beat me to it...

"AOL wanted to buy the Huffington Post because it loves the Huffington Post," she said. "If they wanted to buy the Huffington Post to change it, why pay $315 million?"

Ha ha ha heh...because they think they can make more money than that by...exploiting its brand. But the Hail Adriana pass won't work to save AOL.

"the site's current identity won't change, preserving the site's community feel but expanding it in new directions." Almost an oxymoron.

"The first thing I said about Huffington Post is that I don't want to talk to the choir," she said. "I wanted to use this platform to inform millions of people."

Ok, USA today with a community feel, makes no sense, but how about, "a massive amount of content...generated by unpaid freelancers," uh oh, will they have Troll Blocker?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 8, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Last night I was up late, so I watched Craig Ferguson, and then turned over to see a bit of Jimmy Kimmel's show.

There sat "Dr"? Phil, complaining about howYoutube, is providing a platform for people who will do anything to get noticed.

This coming from the guy, who's show is based on providing a national tv platform for dysfunction people, who want to appear on a national TV show.

I turned off the set, went to bed, and after breakfast this morning; I dug a hole in my backyard and in it buried the corpse of Irony.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 8, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope rukidding will weigh in on this with his journalist's background.. Seriously, it's already a minefield out there for people running for office. Sometimes the unrelenting coverage means candidates with large flaws or laughable positions get knocked out of races. Not a bad thing. But if every moment on the campaign trail can be a gotcha moment, that's a problem.

With this blanket coverage by amateurs, there's also a greater chance for campaign operators to plant and entrap. Is there going to be some sort of mini-course on journalistic ethics given to these legions of reporters? (Not that that would be Arianna's strong suit.). I'm all for serious citizen participation on political blogs and people bringing their individual expertise, knowledge, and research skills to work on
something like the US attorneys story that TPM broke. But this idea of Arianna's sounds as if it has the potential for groupies and stalkers to go wild. I'll be glad if I'm wrong.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 8, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I got banned from HP for speaking my mind freely and challenging the legitimacy of some of their journalists.

Has anyone asked who is now legally responsible if that pair suing AH for stealing their format design in the event they win their suit?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 8, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"uh oh, will they have Troll Blocker?"

They already have moderators.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 8, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"Arianna Huffington is planning to use AOL's infrastructure"

Well, then, that's guaranteed to be a huge hit!

Look up "doomed" in the dictionary, and there's Arianna Huffington holding a big AOL logo. "You've got mail!"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 8, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Without Sam Stein, Ryan Grimm, Jason Linkins and Dan Froomkin, Huff Post wouldn't be worth visiting.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 8, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Sue, that's a funny idea--journalists having moderators to disappear their pieces. Sort of sounds like an editorial function. I'm wondering what the ratio of editors to journalists will be. I don't know how they could pay them enough. Here are your five hundred pieces to edit by noon . . .

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 8, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Citizen Journalism" is going to read like the comments to this blog.

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 8, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I do have to admit Arianna had a kind of glow about her yesterday, like she just got engaged with a really big ring.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 8, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

If she wants to use citizen journalist why hasn't she had anyone in the palin speeches?The only leaks come from the Alaskan bloggrs,republicans,independents and democrats both liberal and progressive and those who follow said bloggs and report as feet on the ground people.,Sge should have write up by people from Alaska like Jeane Devon and Shannyn Moore.Neither takes sides although they lean left.They will go after a liberal who does wrong just as fast as anyone else.

Posted by: bennie1 | February 8, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of having conducted a burial service for the remains of Irony:

Many of the Conservatives who are now clamoring for to continue to prop up the Mubarak regime, claim that if we do not, then Islamic Extremists will come to power.

However; those are they very same Conservatives that still proclaim what a wonderful thing it was to overthrow Saddam in Iraq, because it allowed a Shiite leadership, that answers to their Supreme Ayatollah, to come to power.
In case people have not noticed: remember the Shiite Extremist Group; The Mahdi Army, which has close ties to the Iranian Ayatollahs?

They are now included in the Iraq Government, under their militantly anti- American leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

So which is it Neo-Con Chicken Hawks? You can not claim that what you did in Iraq was wonderful, but then now start claiming that having the same thing happen in Egypt would be a disaster.

Reality Check:

The current Egyptian Regime is supposed to be friendly toward the state of Israel. Yet; when the protests erupted in Cairo and other cities, the regime flood the government run media with broadcasts claiming that foreign journalists were really Israeli Spies. The Big Lie tactic. You conservatives know how that game is played; right?

In addition; during the 30 years under Mubarak, the regime has never stopped spreading the Big Lie about the Jewish people, about the completely false "Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion". It is taught in schools, all across Egypt.

This is the great friend of Israel you wish to prop up?

Posted by: Liam-still | February 8, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse


Putting aside our politics, it is rather frightening to realize how precarious Israel is in the ME. Mubarek's regime has acted as a buffer between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, but when Mubarek himself is threatened, he throws Israel under the bus. It makes sense to me that the regime would float the rumor about Israeli spies, since that is what the Arab street is most likely to believe.

There is no good answer for Israel. If the Egyptians actually elect a popular leader, he won't be Israel friendly. Backing Mubarek, and his facsimiles, are the best that Israel can do.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 8, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse


We have no legal or moral right to prop up a Despot, and sacrifice the human rights of eighty million Egyptians, in order to provide thread bare cover for a far smaller population in an neighboring state, which just happens to be engaging in incremental ethnic cleansing, and annexing of land, in the West Bank.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 8, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

To continue the morning discussion, I'm not sure exactly what drives racism. At first it was an element of superiority. Remember that slavery was once justified by the need to civilize Africans. White Man's Burden and such. And yeah, that's definitely true today. Look at all the people on here who call Obama, "Barry." It's definitely a sentiment that a black man should be a slave, not our leader.

And to bring it back to PPACA. Excluding illegals from participating in the exchanges is just a senseless desire to hurt brown people. There's no harm to allowing them to participate. We aren't talking about subsidies. They expand the payer pool and do so with better health and would actually reduce prices for everyone else.

It's this impression that Republicans have cultivated as a zero-sum game between whites and non-whites. That a success by someone like me necessarily means that white people lose out. I've read some sociological work claiming that one of the reasons that the USA doesn't have a strong working class political force is that working class whites and working class non-whites have been so successfully separated through racial strife. There is absolutely no reason for poor white Americans to be taking up the same mantle as rich Americans, but they are and it's because of this idea of a zero-sum game.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 8, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

All, some truly priceless buffoonery from Pete King:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 8, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

We have no legal or moral right to prop up a Despot
Putting aside legality and morality, there isn't a good answer practically. What we want we can't have. We want Egypt to have a popular leader who supports American interests. Since supporting American interests is highly unpopular with the people of Egypt, that leader who does support our interests (and by extension Israel's interests) will be unpopular. Hence Mubarek. Any popularly elected leader will not be supportive of our interests.

I'm not taking sides here, I'm just trying to see all the pieces of the complex puzzle as realistically as I can. I get your point that Egypt only offers threadbare cover to Israel anyway and it costs the Eqyptian people a true democracy. True enough.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 8, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

12BB: "it is rather frightening to realize how precarious Israel is in the ME"

A good deal of that precariousness is self-created.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 8, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

A good deal of that precariousness is self-created.
Don't take me for an apologist for Israel's policies, because I'm not.

I wonder if the real casualty in the present ME dustup, will be more fissures in the U.S./Israel relationship.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 8, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Breitbart design HuffPo? Wonder if he gets a payday? That would be "ironic."

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 8, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

DDawd--You might want to drop that comment in on tonight's Happy Hour thread as this one didn't get much traffic.


Posted by: AllButCertain | February 8, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca, in re earlier...No we won't get into a misanthropy contest, how dreadful...but I can tell you of any number of examples of virulent racists who loved and cared for this or that individual of another race and I am not just talking about Thomas Jefferson. We have this neuro-psychological widget often called compartmentalization, it works for some people as a way of dealing with cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 8, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Adriana Huffington may be crazy at least politically but she is the hottest 50+ some babe in the world, 315 million, that stupid accent and phenomenal body, ouch!

Posted by: jfzellie | February 8, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Huffington was more astute in selling out at the peak of her company's value than AOL was in buying it. As she obviously knew and AOL did not, within the past few weeks two new potential media giants with deep pockets have come on the scene with significant digital news organizations and publications: 21st Century's and Rupert Murdoch's The Daily. Both look to be inherently superior to the liberal opinion-oriented Huffington Post.

Murdoch's is available for a monthly fee and only on iPad tablets. Its news is generated by about 100 previously unemployed print journalists. 21st Century's is available to everyone free at and, as a member of the Associated Press, its better and more extensive news offering is generated by the thousands of AP reporters around the world. It is reputed to be expanding with a tablet version similar to Murdoch's, but probably free.

These two organizations are national in coverage unlike most digital news sites which are associated with major market print products. They are also mainline, particularly, with no ties to specific industries such as The Wall Street Journal.

Both will probably survive and prosper in the years ahead. But since we live in a free enterprise world where better products with lower prices are favored, is likely to end up on top while the Huffington Post slowly withers away with AOL.

Posted by: JohnLindauer1 | February 8, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Liam-Still: "This is the great friend of Israel you wish to prop up?"

Not me.

And there are numerous conservatives who feel that propping up dictators and despots is bad juju, no matter who we do it with. I can understand why we might have been tolerant of Egypt when it was relatively quiescent. But now that the citizens are revolting, there's no justification for supporting the totalitarian against the citizens. But then, I've always maintained that a government that "governs" without the consent of the governed is illegitimate. Thus, the Egyptian government has, for the most part, always been illegitimate.

Mubarek had a long time during which he could have constructed a parliamentary democracy or some form of representative republic and chose not to. Now, he reaps what he sewed.

I realize there are pleanty of realpolitik conservatives out there, but I'm not one of them. And there are plenty of conservatives who aren't on the side of maintaining the status quo. Rob Long (on Ricochet) argued repeatedly than anything going on there was better than what we had, and that it was better for them to being themselves than fighting us, amongst other justification for not defending Mubarek or trying to install a supposedly more American-friendly regime.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 8, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Mubarek had a long time during which he could have constructed a parliamentary democracy or some form of representative republic and chose not to."

This is not true. Egypt is a military dictatorship. If you say, "the military had a long time in which it could have,"...that would make sense, but the "emergency powers" of the last three decades accrue to the vast patronage system that is the military, police and intelligence services. Naturally Mubarak benefits wonderfully from this spoils system, but he can leave tomorrow and nothing will change if he is replaced by say, his son or Suleiman.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 8, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

One of the areas of focus for Arianna Huffington's new venture will be local news.
Local news?
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
On October 17 NPR received a $1.8 million grant from the Open Society Institute which is funded by George Soros. The money will be used by NPR to build local news capacity.

I'm sure this is just a coincidence.

Posted by: mrfunn | February 9, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

All this worry about the US supporting a dictator in Egypt. What if . . .

after a few months of chaos in Egypt the country falls into Civil War? Many die. Democracy, having never sprung from Middle Eastern soil, will be a long shot, at best. Now, would the supporters of the "people in the streets" still object to supporting a dictator?

Posted by: ImHappynBP | February 10, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

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