Simon Johnson joins HuffPo

By Felix Salmon
January 29, 2010
This is a great hire: the Huffington Post has brought on Simon Johnson as a contributing business editor, underscoring the way in which the historically staid and boring intersection of politics with economics is pretty much the hottest game in town right now.

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This is a great hire: the Huffington Post has brought on Simon Johnson as a contributing business editor, underscoring the way in which the historically staid and boring intersection of politics with economics is pretty much the hottest game in town right now.

The hire works both ways: Simon bring with him a huge amount of credibility and expertise, a fantastic nose for newsworthiness, and his equally-bright partner at Baseline Scenario, James Kwak, who understands intuitively the speed and power of the blogosphere. At the same time, Simon and James now get access to the HuffPo’s reporting staff, who have been doing great work of late, and who are a great resource with a truly complementary skillset to that of the Baseline Scenario team.

Up until quite recently, the blogosphere was almost entirely parasitical on the MSM: newspapers would do the shoe-leather reporting, and then bloggers would add layers of conversation, commentary, and debate. The exception was the world of technology and media blogs, where the likes of TechCrunch and PaidContent have been breaking news for years. Now, as the likes of Politico and HuffPo start aggressively reporting in their own right, the blogs are moving into the world of original political reporting; inevitably, over the next couple of years, we’ll see the same thing happening in finance and economics.

Reporters are expensive, of course, and you can’t expect them to post multiple times per day if they’re chasing down a breaking story. But as the FT and the WSJ retreat behind their firewalls, there’s a wide-open opportunity for a fast-moving and well-financed financial site to start becoming a must-read on Wall Street in the way that TechCrunch and Politico are in Silicon Valley and DC respectively. Maybe if Simon helps to build the HuffPo business section into something agenda-setting, the next step might be for Arianna to move into the world of finance, competing with the likes of Henry Blodget, and making the financial blogosphere in general something much richer and deeper than it is right now.

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