MediaFile

HuffPost launches live streaming with live comments

The Huffington Post on Monday launched its latest foray into video with a twist: Live programs that are intended to get people to talk about the segment in real time.

HuffPost Live “airs” its programs in real time -- some examples include Mitt Romney’s veep choice of Paul Ryan and  how white supremacy groups are using music as a recruiting too — though the videos can be watched even after they have been shown live. It is streaming 12 hours of programming, five days a week from its  studios in AOL’s New York headquarters, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

“When we starting thinking about this we wanted to make this the most social video experience possible,” said Roy Sekoff president and co-creator of HuffPost Live and founding editor of the Huffington Post. “People are about real time. They want to tweet about something as it is happening.

Sekoff said it took about 8 months to get the project off the ground after it was given the green light and has a staff of about 100 people working on it full time.

To show just how active visitors to the main Huffiington Post website are, the company said it attracts an average 2 million comments a week.

The irrational imitation of the online news industry

All across Europe, journalistic online startups are launching, aiming to produce and disseminate news in new ways. In our brave new world, the nimble startups of tomorrow were supposed to be overtaking the lumbering dinosaurs of yesterday online. But nearly all of these startups, even the most impressive and innovative sites, are struggling to survive because they face structural and strategic challenges that are not always recognized upfront. To succeed, European journalistic startups need to recognize these challenges, move beyond simply imitating others and find their own paths ahead.

The structural challenges for European journalistic startups have to do with the competition they face in content and advertising.

Startups are trying to establish themselves in a market for online news that is dominated by legacy media like newspapers and broadcasters. New journalistic ventures, such as Netzeitung, Rue89 and Il Post, are competing not only with other startups but also with the popular online offerings of news organizations like Spiegel, Le Monde and La Reppublica. These incumbents, and others like them, have built their digital strategy around their well-known brands and content from their existing newsrooms. They fund them with profits from their (generally declining) offline operations. Together with a handful of aggregators and portals, such legacy players dominate online news provision in most European countries.

Defending Arianna Huffington from the shareholder value police

By Maureen Tkacik

The views expressed are her own.

A few weeks ago I read an astonishing story about an army of lobbyists who had stormed Capitol Hill bent on repealing a law passed last year, thanks largely to the energies of a rival battalion of lobbyists. The dueling industries had spent tens of millions enlisting 242 former legislative officials to badger their replacements over a single vote.

Hanging in the balance was $50 billion in profits one industry was extracting each year from, inter alia, the other. But the real cost of the dispute, the authors insisted, was the incalculable one borne by the public when its ostensibly democratic government is entirely preoccupied, in the words of one dismayed senator, “trying to divide up the spoils between various economic interests.”

Which is what was so astonishing about the story: its aggressive and unabashed pursuit of the “public interest.” I was pretty sure this concept was extinct; Washington has become so thoroughly infested with paid promoters of some industry or another’s shareholders’ interests that it’s impolite to display anything more than passing contempt for the “public.” More puzzling still, the media outlet that published this extravagant display of public interest journalism was the Huffington Post, a site famous for many forms of content, most of which are pretty much the antithesis of 8,000-word corruption investigations.

Bill Keller’s war on the Internet keeps the Times down

By Alex Leo

It seems every time Bill Keller takes pen to paper (or hand to keyboard) these days it’s to express displeasure with some aspect of the Internet. Last week he tweeted “#TwitterMakesYouStupid. discuss.” Without delving into the irony of using the trappings of the Web to attack it, you can see this man is spoiling for a fight. Ever since Keller started his column in the Hugo-Lindgren-revamped Sunday Times magazine, it’s been clear he’s swinging at Arianna Huffington. (Full disclosure: Before coming to Reuters I was a senior editor at the Huffington Post.)

In his first such column, he called The Huffington Post, and aggregators in general, “pirates” and  “counterfeiters.” This level of vitriol is something Keller normally reserves for despots and the Bush White House, so why the exception here? Yes, HuffPo is nipping at the NYT’s toes to become the most widely-read news site on the Web, and yes, Huffington has poached some of Keller’s top talent in recent months, but the truth is that part of Keller’s animus must come from the knowledge that he helped create this monster of a site by refusing to engage with the Internet on the Internet’s terms. It’s not just Keller who ceded ground to The Huffington Post—it’s the news publishing world as a whole which, like the music industry, didn’t revolutionize fast enough and saw a new entity arise to classify their content.

To be fair to Keller, he’s right about a few things. Many of the editors Huffington claimed to employ pre-AOL were really content producers more than journalists—they made slideshows, polls, quizzes, they wrote headlines for AP stories, added images to blogs, embedded videos and aggregated outside news. With the influx of AOL money, Arianna has started to do what she always wanted: Hire prestigious journalists and bloggers and build an empire that earns as much respect as it does page views. This in no way means the page views will come from the respectable journalism—my guess is that Peter Goodman brings in 1/10th the traffic of a kitten-posting associate editor who earns 1/10th his salary does, but they serve different purposes and both are important for the brand.

Tech wrap: HTC trumps Nokia

An employee holds a HTC Sensation mobile phone during its launch in London April 12, 2011. Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC unveiled on Tuesday a new handset model that offers a library of movies and TV shows via a wide screen that will be available on the Vodafone network. REUTERS/Luke MacGregorHTC launched the HTC Sensation, offering an entire library of movie and TV shows via a wide screen, with a fast 1.2GHz processor. While Nokia, which dumped its once-dominant Symbian software earlier this year after falling behind Apple in the high-end handset market, launched two new models improved with better text input, faster Internet browsing and a refreshed Ovi Maps application, in a bid to stem customer defections while it works on a new offering.

“The new HTC Sensation phone reflects the mountain Nokia needs to climb to close the hardware and software gap with its rivals,” said Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight. “On the day Nokia unveils the 600Mhz X7 ‘entertainment phone’ it has been trumped by HTC’s Sensation which has a dual-core 1.2Ghz processor”.

Cisco Systems will dump its Flip video camera division, retiring the popular brand rather than selling it in a first step toward reviving a company CEO John Chambers admits has lost its way. The decision to nix Flip, along with a planned folding of its Umi home videoconference business into the more successful TelePresence arm, underscores Chambers’ need to whittle down a money-losing consumer division that also includes Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes and Linksys home routers. Among the steps announced, Cisco plans to combine its lackluster Umi service with its TelePresence system for corporate clients. The company will also change the way it manufactures its Linksys line of networking equipment.

Fired AOL India employee talks

AOL cut more than 900 jobs around the world today — 20 percent of its staff — and  India took a pretty tough cut from the axe: 400 jobs, according to several sources, and 300 contractors, according to another source. The nice thing for Reuters is that we have a big  bureau in Bangalore, not too far from AOL, and plenty of our people know other people there and were able to get important details about the job cuts.

I coordinated some of the coverage from here since I’m hanging out in the bureau, and was happy when I heard that my colleague Nivedita Bhattacharjee got time to talk with one of the employees who was laid off today. Here is some of what he told her. We agreed to his request for anonymity because he wants to get work again and does not want to disqualify himself from jobs because he spoke to the press.

The entire team had a meeting, and they briefed us about how issues will be handled… we work in AOL. It’s something that we are always prepared (for). We were expecting an announcement soon.

David Eun Exits AOL after Huff Po purchase

david-eunAnother high-level AOL executive is heading for the exit door after the company shifted its content strategy again with the $315 million acquisitionof the Huffington Post. David Eun (pictured left), the ex-Googler recruited by AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong to be president of AOL media and studios, is leaving. Eun is a causality of the Huff Po purchase that put the charismatic high profile  founder Arianna Huffington in charge of AOL’s content.

In a memo to AOL employees posted on AOL’s technology blog TechCrunch, Eun described how he and Armstrong tried to find a place for Eun at AOL after the acquisition.

“I came to AOL last year to be the leader of the media organization. With the historic acquisition of The Huffington Post, my role and responsibilities as President, AOL Media are changing. Tim and I have discussed at length how I might continue within the new organizational structure, but ultimately there isn’t a role that matches what I am seeking to do.”

Lots of traffic, but show us the money

Arianna Huffington and James Pitaro photo courtsey of Beet.TV

Arianna Huffington and James Pitaro photo courtesy of Beet.TV

Traditional media companies have spent the better part of two years trying to cope with the double whammy of recessionary forces washing away advertising revenue and the changing habits of consumers. So how do a bunch of young buck  Internet companies see themselves ?  As media companies!

Well sort of. Not, you know, old school media companies.  Rather, “technology enabled media companies,” as  James Pitaro, vice president, media at Yahoo phrased it when pressed on Tuesday during a  panel discussion about the future of media hosted by I Want Media.

Pitaro was on hand with a bunch of other big names like Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post;  David Eun, AOL Media president; and Josh Cohen, senior business project manager at Google News. (Go here for the complete lineup).

from DealZone:

Stress-Test Expertise

NEWYORK-SPITZER/It seemed only a bit odd that media star Arianna Huffington was the guest host on CNBC the day the all-important stress test results were due. Not to play down her credentials in media or commentary circles, but where were the celebrated bank analysts, the corporate chieftains and the investment gurus who so routinely enjoy a dose of the limelight on America's Business Channel?

Wasn't this the perfect day for a newsmaker rather than a news talker? The Huffington Post founder has been a good reality check on market cheerleaders who live on CNBC, but on Stress-Test Thursday, the less-than-casual viewer expects insiders with insight. It tasted like something strange and exotic had made its way into the DealZone coffee machine.

Then disgraced former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer joined the fray, and the slightly odd became surreal. Spitzer, who casually noted he was invited to the show (hint, hint), gave a spirited view from the nosebleed seats, far back from the federal policymakers' bench.

Huffingtonpost to fund investigative journalism

Just got back from a panel discussion at Michael’s restaurant in Manhattan where Huffingtonpost founder Arianna Huffington said that the news and commentary website is going to raise money to fund investigative journalism projects.

I asked her for more details afterward. She said there wouldn’t be any for another three months or so. That leaves me with precious little more to deliver than context. Her plan comes as the news business itself faces dire code-orange-style threat levels — many U.S. newspaper publishers are mired in debt and their ad sales are thinning, making it hard to see how they will soldier on. Not only that, investors are fleeing from them like the proverbial rats from a sinking ship and their equity value is hitting the low single digits.

For all media companies, whether or not they’re in the hands of investors, the ad revenue decline is hitting them hard, and all sorts of publications are axing staff. It leaves many media talking heads and bloggers wondering whether news will survive into the 21st century, at least in the way we know it.