AOL’s $315 million purchase of The Huffington Post that was announced Sunday, Feb. 6, raised eyebrows in the online journalism community.
According to news reports, Arianna Huffington will take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group.
AOL, which has been seen as apolitical, risks losing its nonpartisan image, according to The New York Times, which also quoted Huffington as saying her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business.
Sprinting out of the starting gate, Huffington the next day talked about how she wanted to put citizen journalists to work on the 2012 presidential campaign.
Some have questioned whether the citizen journalists and bloggers who have contributed free content will remain onboard without pay.
At the same time, others have written that HuffPo’s business model is misunderstood and that the content contributed by unpaid writers represents only a small share of its traffic.
Only time will tell how this will develop, but it certainly will be interesting to watch.
Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).