Feb 6, 2011

AOL to buy Huffington Post*

AOL, which has tread heavy into the content arena with AOL news staff and its Patch sites, has agreed to buy Huffington Post for $315 million. Arianna Huffington will continue to lead HuffPo, Reuters reports. The deal calls for AOL and HuffPo to integrate content. From Reuters:
"The acquisition of The Huffington Post will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community, and social experiences for consumers," said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL.
*The New York Times reports that Arianna Huffington will run editorial operations for the entire AOL network, not just the Huffington Post content. From the story:
Arianna Huffington, the cable talk show pundit, author and doyenne of the political left, will take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group. The arrangement will give her oversight not only of AOL’s national, local and financial news operations, but also of the company’s other media enterprises like MapQuest and Moviefone.
One has to look no further than "The AOL Way" to know that AOL could use some editorial guidance. Whether Huffington is the one to provide it is another matter. Here's more from the New York Times has more:
While Huffington Post has been growing — it now employs more than 200 people, a threefold increase in just the last few years — AOL has been shrinking. Last year it eliminated close to 2,500 positions, roughly a third of its staff. Although its most recent earnings estimates beat Wall Street expectations, revenues for the fourth quarter were down 26 percent from a year earlier as dial-up customers continued to disappear. Ad revenue, which is seen as the company’s main business going forward, was down 29 percent from the year before. 
The Huffington Post, too, has faced criticism over its content, much of which is aggregated from other news sources. But it has started to invest more in original reporting and writing, hiring experienced journalists from The New York Times, Newsweek and other traditional media outlets. By acquiring The Huffington Post’s reporting resources, AOL hopes to counter the perception that it is a farm for subpar content.

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