Arianna Huffington Interview: SOTB 2009 - Page 2
RJ: So, you started a business but was more intended to support your passions and some of the other things you were doing, whether speaking, or your books or whatever, and it grew from there. This is something we found a lot of in the State of the Blogosphere report: that people with strong interests aren't looking to directly make money from their blogs - they speak or teach or write books, and the blogs supports these efforts.
AH: Yes definitely, first of all, I mean, I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't working on a book, because I wrote my first book when I was 22 and now I am 59.
My decision now is I am not writing a book, I don’t want to write a book. I want to put all that energy into our expansion online, so that's a shift for me: anything I want to say in a book I will say that online in the Huffington Post and that's a shift.
In terms of journalism, from the beginning, as well as doing the things I mentioned like blogging, writing news and community, we wanted to have reporters but we didn’t have the funding in yet. So, as soon as we could afford it, we started adding reporters now have an office in Washington, Chicago, New York, Denver, and we have a a great team of reporters.
And we are doing it on our way: one of our reporters — Arthur Delaney — his job is to specifically report on the flesh and blood of economic statistics. If you look at his stories they are really fascinating and we are calling him our "Economic Impact" reporter.
RJ: I liked the way to tuned up flesh and blood on story
AH: If you read the New York Times recently, a survey showed how mainstream media are covering Wall Street and the banks, much more than they are covering what is happening to the ordinary people. We are covering all that, but we are also covering the economic crisis in terms of peoples lives.
We are also we are using our community and we are using our citizen journalism tools to get stories, from our readers. We launched a year ago “Blogging the Melt Down,” and we are collecting stories on unemployment, foreclosures; now we launched the next incarnation called “Bearing Witness" - you know, asking people to tell us their stories.
RJ: How many are actually blogging on the Huffington Post today?
AH: Well we have the people who have their own password and that's thousands of people who send blogs.
RJ: Is there any differentiation with the password?
AH: Password is like our first editorial control - for the people we feel we can completely trust to appear on the site without editorial intervention.
They can post in the middle of the night if they wish. Our secondary editorial control is that our editor decides who is going to be featured on the homepage, or featured on any of the verticals.
RJ: So you are actually giving the opportunity to some lower guys: they write some good they have the chance to make a channel?
AH: Yes, absolutely, one of the things I really loved is, when we get emails from publishers or television producers saying can you help us reach so and so, write this blog or appear on MSNBC or CNN - so that's fantastic. It becomes an additional platform.
RJ: Any advice for a person who is trying to build a business out of their passion, whatever the subject is?
AH: If it's your passion then that is the key. And I would advise an ad-supported model rather than a subscription model. I can't believe a number of newspapers and other sites are still trying to figure out how to close off their content and charge for it. I don't think it will work unless you are offering something very special that people can't get anywhere else. That's how we are doing it.