Huffington Beats Odds as Blogger

St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans tells us how Arianna Huffington beat the odds as a blogger.

It was not supposed to work this way. In a medium started by guys typing at computers in their bedrooms, she was a glamorous socialite with an A-list address book of investors and endless media coverage. Critics swore Arianna Huffington’s dream – a collection of blogs from the likes of Warren Beatty and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. – would die a quick death in a space where grass roots support and hipster cachet was everything.

But exactly one year after establishing her Huffington Post Web site, the 55-year-old author and pundit has become a major voice in the blogosphere, defying critics while building a destination in cyberspace whose growth mirrors the maturation of blogging itself. “The people I admire have always been willing to pursue their vision, even if others ridicule them,” said Huffington, who recently joined Matt Drudge as the two bloggers included on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people. “The most important conversation going on right now has been online, and it’s only going to get more and more important.”

Matt Drudge is not a blogger. The Drudge Report is almost certainly the most influential political website in history and Drudge himself deserves 99% of the credit for that since he does almost all the work himself. The site is not, however, a blog. No permalinks, no archives, no reverse chronological posting. It’s a website that makes no use of blogging technology.

Arianna Huffington, by contrast, is technically a blogger. HuffPo is undeniably a very successful blog and she posts on it from time to time. It is not, however, successful because of her tremendous blogging skills or keen insights but because of her entrepreneurial vision in recruiting hundreds of authors. If it were just Huffington posting, she’d have 100 visitors a day.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Name recognition. Not just Ms. Huffington herself but many of her guest bloggers have enormous name recognition. It helps in starting up a new blog just as in so many other activities.

  2. Bithead says:

    No permalinks, no archives, no reverse chronological posting. It�s a website that makes no use of blogging technology.

    Mostly because it hadn’t been invented yet as of when he started it.

    Still, it seems to be justified that he should get the credit for a lot of what evolved into what I will call the blogging movement.

    I tend to agree with your assessment of Huffington’s skills. And I also agree, as regards the results of those blogging skills being the sole voice being heard on that blog.

    I think it should also be noted however, that being mentioned with some degree of regularity on a cable news channel didn’t hurt her hit numbers either. What would happen, therefore, if somebody with a little more centrist or dare I say it, rightist bent came along and was promoted on, say, fox news, the way Huffington was elsewhere? Huffington, I suspect, would be an afterthought in that event, if anyone remembered her existance at all.

    And this writeup leaning on the idea that she is a woman in a man’s environment (blogging) is just so full of crap, I think I’ll let the statement fall over on its own.

  3. dougrc says:

    A 100 visitors per day? Give me a break. Maybe the first month, but once they had read her drivel a few times it would shrink.

    As to Drudge, you’re right, he’s no blogger. But he is important to the Blogdom because he has a nose for news and once I have read the articles he has linked I have more tendency to read comments about those subjects on the blogs I read.

    It is kinda funny to see something he posts early in the day wind-up as major discussion points on many different blogs, each giving air to their take on the issue. There are a few blogs that might have a problem finding content if Matt closed up shop.