The Huffington Post: A Preliminary Assessment
The offerings so far are a decidedly mixed bag. Jim Pinkerton offers an intriguing post that begins, “You should consider the possibility that everything on this site is a lie.” Jon Robin Baitz, of whom I’ve never heard, writes about nothing in particular. Greg Gutfeld, of whom I’ve also never heard (hereafter OWIHNH), offers a recipe for lemon squares. Jonah Peretti, OWIHNH, enjoins, “Let the madness begin.”
One suspects it’ll get better as the novelty of being able to post wears off and people wait until they have something to say before posting. (Indeed, a 300-author site has that luxury in a way that solo author or small group blogs don’t.)
Howie Kurtz, though, echoes my initial reaction to the endeavor and raises some other red flags.
Blog mistress is only the latest incarnation for Huffington, who has been a Republican activist (as a GOP congressman’s wife), Democratic activist (she backed John Kerry), Comedy Central bedmate of Al Franken, syndicated columnist, author, anti-SUV crusader and gadfly candidate for California governor (she got 0.6 percent of the vote after a last-minute pullout). She envisions the blog as a big dinner party, with chatter “about politics and books and art and music and food and sex.”
Huffington insists her effort isn’t just about the boldface names; she’s lined up some college kids and a friend’s 11-year-old daughter. “My dream is that we’ll create new blogging stars,” she says.
This strikes me as, frankly, boneheaded. The allure of the site is that it is written by Big Name People. If I’m tuning in to see what Walter Chronkite has to say, I don’t want to have to wade through postings by somebody’s kid.
The best blogs, love ’em or hate ’em, have an unmistakable voice; this will be a cacophony of voices. It’s an open question whether the scribblings of the rich and influential can be as compelling as those of previously obscure people who are now online stars.
On the positive side, as Michelle Malkin notes, Huffington is at least taking the effort seriously.
Her blogroll (as fascinating for its inclusions as its omissions, ahem!) sends a signal that she wants to be taken seriously as a blogger and that she wants the right side of the blogosphere to pay attention.
Further, the blog looks more-or-less like a blog (permalinks, reverse chronological posting, archives), which is a good sign. On the downside, there is no SiteMeter and no trackbacks. No comments, either, but that’s hardly a surprise.
My guess, though, is that the site will do well, at least for a while. It’s certainly going to dwarf mine in traffic just because of the names involved and the media buzz it has created. Ditto, the ability to sell ads. Whether it will find a voice over time and provide readers a reason to keep coming back, though, is yet to be determined.