Monday, January 21, 2008

The Huffington Post and Irresponsible Alternative Media

We should start taking a hard look at the conduct of alternative media as well as main stream media.

There are some really crappy money-making blogs (MMBs) around. One, I believe, is gawker (I won't even provide the URL). It pays a pittance to its contributors - I have heard it was recently $12/post - and the site makes millions. Gawker strikes me as particularly offensive because it tries to be counter-cultural and edgy, when it's just big business taking advantage of the little guy.

One MMB/alternative news site that I read and like is the Huffington Post. There are lots of good contributors and a variety of viewpoints. But there's something very unsettling about HuffPost: The comments are mostly utterly vitriolic, hate-filled rants by Democrats (or people posing as Democrats) against other Democrats. If you thought HuffPost was representative of America, you'd think that the Democratic party was tearing itself to bits.

Now, lots of blogs and news sites have angry, rude commenters. The thing that bothers me about HuffPost is the concentration of intraparty hatred. There is really no need for the Obama camp and Hillary camp to be so angry and nasty. And from my experience, HuffPost commenters don't represent average people who support those two candidates.

So I took a harder look at HuffPost content, and I conclude that HuffPost uses inflammatory articles and headlines to up their readership (and ultimately their profits from ads). HuffPost is creating scandal and dissension, or at least exacerbating it.

On Saturday, January 19, I made a note of every headline on the HuffPost front page that mentioned Hillary, Barack, or both. (This required checking every couple of hours over the day.) There were 25. Of those, I judge 15 to be inflammatory in some way: dealing with scandal or dissension rather than policy or fact. I provide links below.

I believe that HuffPost is being worse than MSM in stirring up controversy in the Democratic race. HuffPost should take a good, hard look at their editorial policy. They should be focusing more on policy and fact, and scale down the dissension and scandal. Fifteen inflammatory posts in one day is at least 14 too many.

AlterNet has taken a more sober, responsible approach to what it posts (compared to how it covered the last presidential election). HuffPost might learn from them.

Here are the inflammatory posts. The headlines are what appeared on the HuffPost front page:

* Racist Obama joke leaves banquet crowd gasping
* No More Mr. Nice Guy: Obama Mocks Hillary In Standup Routine
* The curious math of Hillary’s "35 years of experience"
* Judge rejects Clinton gambit to block casino workers from voting
* Clinton's Anti-Union Allies
* Anna Lambasts Hillary for Rejecting Vogue
* Nevada Union in battle mode for Obama
* Roy Sekoff with Dan Abrams, Joe Klein and Kate Obenshain on Hillary, Obama and Fearmongering
* Southern Blacks Split Over Obama Vs Clinton
* Chris Matthews apologises for harsh coverage of Hillary
* Chris Matthews Doesn't Rewrite History About the Clintons, He Just Makes It Up
* Anna Wintour Takes Hillary Clinton To Task
* Barack Hearts Ronnie: An Old, New Song
* Chris Matthews Had the Guts to Apologize for Hillary Loathe, Don't Bet the Others Will do the Same
* Hillary Opens Up to Tyra About Adultery

The rest of Saturday's posts on HuffPost are relatively neutral:

* Debate Shocker: Iraq Returns to the Campaign Spotlight...and Hillary Puts it There
* Open Letter to Senator Obama: What Exactly in the Clinton-Era Nineties Did You Not Like?
* Michigan Results Reveal Some Dangerous Trends For Clinton
* Progressive Leader Feingold Split Over Clinton, Obama
* Reagan Advisors: Obama a Bit Like the Gipper
* Obama Could Be Our Tony Blair!
* Senator Leahy Endorses Obama
* Hillary Clinton Delivers Most Watched Meet the Press in Almost Three Years
* Obama Volunteers Transform San Fran Bong Shop To New HQ
* Obama's Wife Gets Vegas Night Out


1 comment:

Canadian Tar Heel said...

Interesting observation. Duly noted.