Best Online Publishers: Blogs/Commentary

HuffPo Blows Away the Competition

It’s only fair to split the “You” that Time magazine selected for its 2006 “Person of the Year” into two camps: People who prior to recent high-tech advances had little hope of impacting popular culture versus the celebrities, professionals, and insanely talented individuals who’d have a media presence with or without blogs and YouTube.

That Arianna Huffington and most of the high-wattage bloggers on make up the latter camp is obvious, but it’s no reason to ignore the site’s growing impact on popular opinion in the arenas of politics, media, business, and entertainment. Before the elegant impresario and Kenneth Lerer, a former Time Warner executive, launched the site in May 2005, no one knew whether the combined short-form musings of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Norman Mailer, and John Cusack would hold water.

“When Huffington started, there were critics who thought she and her celebrity bloggers’ days were numbered,” says Chris Batty, head of ad sales at Gawker Media, a network of blogs owned by Nick Denton. “But the site has been pretty successful in developing a new type of publishing model and carving out a niche for itself in news and politics.”

Indeed, since last September, HuffingtonPost has grown 24 percent in unique users from 2.6 million to 3.2 million, and 55 percent in page views from 30 million to 48 million. The Republican-cum-Democratic pundit Huffington now oversees hundreds of blogs under the HuffPo brand, supported by original news reporting, $5 million in venture backing, an outside sales team from Barry Diller’s IAC Advertising Solutions, and ongoing partnerships with the likes of Continental Airlines, AOL, and ad agency JWT.

HuffPo’s blog-within-a-blog, “Eat the Press,” offers snarky takes on media happenings and the "mediarati."

 Too, HuffPo hired former Newsweek political reporter Melinda Henneberger to orchestrate original reporting and enterprise stories, along with a chief revenue officer to beef up ad sales. Expect more original content and an aggressive expansion into video content this year.

The other four political and news commentary blogs we chose for 2006 each represent much smaller operations; none comes close to the resources behind HuffingtonPost. They are, from political right to political left: Little Green Footballs, The Moderate Voice, Crooks and Liars, and Daily Kos. Each has offered up a strong and consistent voice, serving a devoted and involved readership. And, perhaps more importantly, each represents Time magazine’s “You” in the truest sense.

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