Magazine article The American Conservative

Buying the Content Farm

Magazine article The American Conservative

Buying the Content Farm

Article excerpt

MEDIA

When the Huffington Post website put out its shingle in 2005, Twitter was just a glimmer in the eye of a California programmer, and social-networking behemoth Facebook had just 1 percent of the users it does today. A sustainable business model for these much hyped startups is still out of sight. But they have a cunning plan: cash out while big corporate money still believes the venture can make money giving away free content. Arianna Huffington has done just that, selling her site to AOL for a cool $315 million.

The overwhelming majority of HuffPo's contributors are unpaid, but Arianna will walk away with a hefty portion of the millions doled out by AOL. As one contributor, comedian Andy Borowitz wrote, "My share of the Huffington Post sale, zero dollars, was a little disappointing." A joke, but many HuffPo contributors aren't laughing.

AOL, the dialup Internet provider once infamous for its unsolicited CD mailings, is again desperate to make it in media after a failed marriage to Time Warner. AOUs new CEO, Tim Armstrong, is aggressive about metrics like pageviews and ad clicks. Quality of content seems to be a secondary concern. …

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