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Posted at 5:10 PM ET, 03/11/2011

Bill Keller's wrongheaded attack on HuffPo

By Greg Sargent

A lot of people have weighed in on this already, but I do think it's worth taking a moment to dwell on the attack that New York Times executive editor Bill Keller launched yesterday on The Huffington Post and its approach to journalism:

"Aggregation" can mean smart people sharing their reading lists, plugging one another into the bounty of the information universe. It kind of describes what I do as an editor. But too often it amounts to taking words written by other people, packaging them on your own Web site and harvesting revenue that might otherwise be directed to the originators of the material. In Somalia this would be called piracy. In the mediasphere, it is a respected business model.

The queen of aggregation is, of course, Arianna Huffington, who has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications, array them on your Web site and add a left-wing soundtrack, millions of people will come.

Coming from someone with such a powerful position in journalism, this represents a remarkable level of dismissiveness towards the way millions and millions of people prefer to consume news these days. Keller's assault on "aggregation" likens it to a species of outright theft. In reality, smart aggregation is premised on the idea that people no longer believe (if they ever did) that A Single Authoritative And Almighty News Source is adequate to the task of telling them what information is "fit" for them to consume.

People who go to the Huffington Post or any other sight that aggregates content from multiple sources, including (gasp!) blogs, are In effect saying that the day-in-and-day-out editorial choices at these sites about what constitutes the important news of the day are more relevant and compelling to them than those of traditional news orgs like the Times -- even if these sites are informing them partly with content that's woefully inferior to that of the Paper of Record.

As for Keller's complaint about "packaging" content, the Huffington Post regularly sends huge amounts of readers to stories at other publications, including the Times itself. Indeed, just yesterday, HuffPo prominently linked to a great Times story debunking many of the claims of bold truth-teller Chris Christie. And when HuffPo or another aggregator "repackages" a Times story, the aggregator is generally quoting from that story and linking to it, which hardly seems like something that should be viewed as undesirable.

More broadly, Keller's attack completely discounts the fact that HuffPo writers do a great deal of original reporting that regularly moves the ball on major political stories. (Full disclosure: I am friendly with some of those reporters.) I know this, because I link to the fresh content they provide regularly in the course of aggregating on this blog. For some reason, those reporters have not yet figured out that they're being robbed blind.

By Greg Sargent  | March 11, 2011; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  Political media  
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On a more important topic, which will affect the lives of most Americans;

A National Boycott.

A National Boycott.

We have to start a nationwide boycott of Wisconsin goods, and no one should travel to that state, or any of the other Union busting states.

We can not start to go all soft, about how some people's livelihood might get hurt by such Boycotts, or no one can ever use the Boycott option against any evil practices.

When the people in County Mayo first came up with the method, to use against the tyrannical British Plantation Land Grabber, Captain Boycott, some of the desperately poor people of the Irish village, also got hurt economically, but they won the day, and that is how the word Boycott came into the English language.

This is a war, to preserve the way of life for future working class Americans, and like any fight for justice and equality, there will be some innocent people that get caught in the crossfire, but if we let that stop us, then no one can ever stand up to tyrants, anywhere or anytime.

Boycott all the Union Busting States, and all the products being marketed by The Oligarchs, who are funding the Union Busters.

Posted by: Liam-still | March 11, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

AOL is doomed, so this doesn't matter.

"a powerful position in journalism"

What is journalism?

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Arianna, were she still a conservative, would be reviled by the left for the way she rewards her workers. As a liberal, I wish she was still a conservative. Then, perhaps, she'd be damning them with faint praise... rather than the democrats/

Posted by: rickp644 | March 11, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"What is journalism?"

The better question is "What WAS journalism?"

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 11, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes - but you'd think that after Arianna scored that $300 million she could afford to pay at least a little something to the unpaid bloggers she currently exploits.

Posted by: sbj3 | March 11, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Wonder what Greg thinks of Matt Drudge?

Posted by: sbj3 | March 11, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

The better question is "What WAS journalism?"

True, because that is question we can answer.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Huffington is a political Chameleon. She changed her colors, when ever she felt it would benefit her the most. When she was married to a super rich Republican, and planned to be his First Lady someday, she was a Right Winger. When he failed to win a Senate race, she dropped him, and moved on to pretending to be an Independent, when she was trying to beat Arnold for the Governorship spot. When she fell flat on her face, in that contest, then she suddenly discovered that she was a liberal after all. She will change her colors again, when she feels that she has milked that cow dry.

If she thought that being A Maoist would keep her raking in the money, she would become a Maoist.

When it comes to Arianna, there is no there; there!

Posted by: Liam-still | March 11, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

If Keller were a little more tempered in his criticism, he'd be on the mark. HuffPo does do this stuff he's critical of, but they do a ton of original work as well.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 11, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Hi everybody!

I wonder, considering the mutual "respect" betwixt WAPO and the NYT, if Keller had come out pro HuffPo, would Greg have had to drink the Kool-ade and take the against? To paraphrase Ian Faith: "Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of [print media] having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful."

Keep up the good work all!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 11, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"pay at least a little something to the unpaid bloggers she currently exploits"

After this, she can work with a guy I know who vends/pimps illegal Eastern European/Russian immigrants from, across the Canadian border to dirty jobs, asbestos abatement, demolition...they are volunteers. They do it because it is entry level exposure, like an internship. If they are good enough, then they find a way to get paid. That is what AOL is doing, maybe.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Of course on the other side of the issue;

People who set up Judy Miller in a Glass House, might want to refrain from......

Posted by: Liam-still | March 11, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"Keep up the good work all!"

You too Troll!

Keep up the good work!

GREAT comments Troll! Just awesome!

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 11, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Out here in the Midwest, most news sources are at best a step to the right. These aggregation sites are a revelation. There are folks out there who feel like I do. I had heard of such creatures living on the East Coast but wasn't sure they existed.
Paul Krugman lives and he introduced me to some guy named Greg Sargent who ain't too bad. I have encountered more newspapers than I thought were out there. Hell, my library dropped NY Times last year and never carried the Washington Post. Though being able to read the Stockton Journal and the Lebanon Weekly isn't a small matter.

So Mr. Keller, you need to thank the aggregators and praise them. Because of them I read your rag more than I ever did. And a whole lotta other people now read it also that never did. On the downside, Mr. Keller, you must know I read lots and lots of other papers now too, and blogs, and foreign periodicals also. So you are going to have to keep your quality very high cause there are others out there that want to be heard.

Daryl Pauley,

Posted by: dep258s | March 11, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey Greggie; Your intelligent readers have much more concise and apt criticisms of the lady who talks like the former Cali Gov. than Keller, that pin-headed prima donna.

I wonder how he (Keller) lives with himself with the way he has (mis)treated his Wikileaks stooge!?

Posted by: adamnescot1 | March 11, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Quake Sped Up Earth's Rotation By 1.6 Microseconds

By altering the Earth's mass, the Japanese earthquake actually sped up the Earth's rotation by 1.6 microseconds, according to NASA geophysicist Richard Gross.

Creationists rush to dispute that claim, and state that Mr. Gross's clock is probably not running accurately, because all their sundials have revealed no such time change.

Posted by: Liam-still | March 11, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

What does that mean? 1.6ms is not a speed. Does it mean a year is 1.6ms shorter?

Also...closed system? (I'm too tired to express that as an actual question, but I'm hoping someone knows what I mean.)

Posted by: DDAWD | March 11, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

""Keep up the good work all!"

You too Troll!

Keep up the good work!

GREAT comments Troll! Just awesome!"

Thanks Ethan! Hope all is well with you! ;-)

Shrink, the Japanese Health Ministry just announced that those people near the melting reactor are not in any "immediate health danger.". Paging Chip Diller, please pick up the white "nobody panic" phone.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 11, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

This is really off topic because it insults no one, but I just wanted to remind people of why a 'wave' only a few feet high can be threatening to lots of coastal areas and why a 'wave' ten or more feet high is so deadly.

Many, many places have no significant tidal exchange, a few inches. I've been on Pacific Islands, left my flip flops on the beach by the water for a few days and you come back and there they are, like a lake shore. A tsunami is a rise in the height of the sea level that happens faster than any wave.

Storms produce big waves, way taller than any tsunami, but those are waves; made by the wind they create just as big a ditch behind them as they have a wall in front (as they feel the bottom and jack up, same thing, they pull water up, they are not rising water). So they have only as much energy as the crashing water. The tsunami is not a flood and it is not a wave, though technically, it is a wave. It is an almost instantaneous rise in the sea level, it has, as if all the weight of the ocean behind it.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"Hope all is well with you! ;-)"

Thanks Troll! You're a swell guy. Have a nice weekend. Steer clear of the Koch. It rots your brain. ;-)

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 11, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"Also...closed system? (I'm too tired to express that as an actual question, but I'm hoping someone knows what I mean.)"

Hi DDAWD! I'm gonna guess that the crust somehow contracted thus increasing rotation speed. Like a skater pulling in their arms speeds up the spin. Just a guess.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 11, 2011 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"The Tokyo Electric Power Company has said the cooling systems of three reactors at second nuclear power plant, Fukushima-Daini, are malfunctioning, according to the Kyodo news agency. The plant is 11km (7 miles) to the south of Fukushima-Daiichi."

This could get worse before it gets better.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

""Hope all is well with you! ;-)"

Thanks Troll! You're a swell guy. Have a nice weekend. Steer clear of the Koch. It rots your brain. ;-)"

You too! And not to worry, they only pay me during the week. ;-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 11, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Tsunami waves are traveling at a speed of more than 600 miles per hour, they look like minor waves, until they reach the shallower regions just off shore. That causes the waves to rise up to a very large height as they come ashore, at the speed of a jet plane.

Imagine being hit by any sort of wall, which is moving at six hundred miles per hour. I think Skippy must have been, at one time, because how else can we explain how his vocal cords ended up in his rectum.

Posted by: Liam-still | March 11, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"Tokyo Electric Power Company now says the ability to control pressure in some of the reactors at Fukushima-Daini has been lost."

Ok, I am done. I sure hope nothing even more really bad happens. Have a good evening.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. I don't give a rat's rump about Keller or the PuffHo.

I like Real Clear Politics, Drudge, and a few other aggregates.

Rush Limbaugh aggregates real good, too!

To Obamacrats, Rush Limbaugh is the aggravation aggregation.

Posted by: battleground51 | March 11, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the massive earthquake acted liked a propulsion system, and when it released all that energy, it caused the earth to rotate at an infinitesimally faster rate?

Posted by: Liam-still | March 11, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Reports are coming in from around the Tokyo area. The earthquake and radiation have re-awakened GODZILLA. The 500 foot monster is wreaking havoc again just like old times.

Posted by: battleground51 | March 11, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

""Shrink, the Japanese Health Ministry just announced that those people near the melting reactor are not in any "immediate health danger.". Paging Chip Diller, please pick up the white "nobody panic" phone.""

Christine Todd Whitman emigrated to Japan?

Posted by: jprestonian | March 11, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

No fault of the bloggers but that place and its moderation of comments is ridiculous. The control they maintain over the comments sections reminds me of what blogging in mainland China must feel like to be honest. It's completely outrageous.

I eventually got banned from commenting there after years. I assume it was because of people like her, FDL and others like Ed Schultz etc constantly on the attack of the administration and demoralizing Democratic voters into thinking there was nothing worth voting for.

Was in intentional from them? Some of them maybe, others not.

Was the result less voters showing up?

Well, the endless liberal purity demanded sure as heck didn't help the Democrats at the state and federal level in the least bit.

So, if Arianna catches flack, I rly couldn't care at all. She gathered up a huge democratic following, then turned entire sections of that blog like the media section with writers like Danny Shea and his pro-Fox slant and business with writers like Shahien Nasiripour that were critical of Obama non stop.

I don't trust Arriana's intentions in the least bit.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | March 11, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

He should be complaining about HuffPo's misleading headlines instead. I'm not a big fan of the site myself, although I visit it from time to time, mostly to get an entertainment gossip fix.

Posted by: Justwondering14 | March 11, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I need to proofread myself. I got banned probably for badmouthing her on the site. Same with FDL eventually. Well, not banned from FDL but I'm in a never ending moderation from my other IP address. They haven't blocked my home IP for whatever reason @ FDL.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | March 11, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup:

Please note the announcement about comments...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 11, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Greg.

Whatever one may think of specific Huff Po headlines, there are highly valuable features.

- The "Reporters" tab at the Politics page.
- Subscriptions to op-ed writers.
- HuffPost Hill

Those are just the ones I use. I'm sure there's more.

Huff Po's reporters easily trump Adam Nagourney (chief internalizer of right-wing talking points) and Matt Bai (of the vapid "look at me, I'm a 'centrist" routine). In fact, some of NYT's best reporters (David Leonhardt, Steven Greenhouse) would fit in well on the Huff Po team.

And how many times has the Huff Po crew done great reporting on a story traditional outlets fell down on? Too many to count.

Does Keller really want to compare records with Dan Freaking Froomkin?!?! Really? Yeah... Bill, that's not going to end well for you.

Posted by: michael_conrad | March 11, 2011 10:24 PM | Report abuse

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