23
Sep 10

Downie vs Huffington: the parasite debate is back

Ex-Washington Post editor Len Downie came to City University last night to deliver the James Cameron lecture and inserted just one sting in the tail of his text, but a sharp one. Downie is not impressed, not impressed at all, by the Huffington Post.

The Huffposties are “parasites” he said, adding that much of the site’s “highly touted” web-traffic statistics were boosted by celebrity gossip. “They attract audiences by aggregating  journalism about special interests and opinions reflecting a predictable point of view on the left or the right of the political spectrum,  along with titillating gossip  and sex.”

This was the punch line: “It is not yet clear whether many – or any – of the aggregators will become profitable – or,  more importantly, whether  any of them will become sources of original,  credible journalism.” Downie’s lecture is in full here.

This barb triggered a cross response from the Huffington Post’s founder Arianna Huffington who defended the amount of original journalism on the site and said that they stick to “fair use” rules in giving only excerpts and links.

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