Less than a year after its roll out, the German edition of the Huffington Post has managed to get close to the top ten of German news portals. Since its founding, Cherno Jobatey has been part of the leading team of the German Huffington Post as its Editorial Director.
The industrial revolution caused by digitalization has caused a lot of upheaval, both for traditional business models and familiar forms of communication. Thus, the media – and the entire media economy with them – have undergone massive change during the past ten years, quietly but inexorably.
Founded in the USA in 2005 by Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post is a newspaper almost like any other, with the exception that it cannot be bought at any “physical” newsstand, but exists only online. Around the world, its editorial offices employ about 800 journalists. This model is so successful that the publication has not only been growing steadily, but became the first online newspaper ever to win the renowned Pulitzer Prize in 2012.
The special feature of the new platform Huffington Post is its hybrid principle: on the one hand, it is an online newspaper, but on the other hand a platform for anyone wishing to participate in public debate, a kind of YouTube for words.
The Huffington Post works like a gigantic talk show in which anyone can participate. These talk show participants are bloggers – they have a prominent place in the left-hand column next to the editorial content. In extreme cases, a president may be featured directly next to the comment of a student.
This principle has proven a huge success. The Huffington Post overtook the venerable New York Times and its online offshoot quite some time ago. By now it has become the largest online newspaper worldwide.
Much wisdom has been spouted about the new digital world: “empowerment” – unknown individuals achieving great feats – is part of it. We are familiar with the stories about the “Arab Spring”. In the meantime, we even the term “Facebook, or Twitter Revolution” has been coined.
Being heard is one of those things… As so often, the devil is in the details. Anyone can post stuff, i.e. publish it on the Internet. It doesn’t even have to cost anything. So far, so good.
But todays “gatekeepers of knowledge,” however – usually search machines – react best to a “well-oiled” website. Designing a well-programmed website takes work, time, and usually money as well. And know-how: meta-tags, titles, an online address (URL) with the “right” keywords, etc. The wish to be found has long sprouted a new industry called search engine optimization.
In this regard, The Huffington Post relieves its authors of some of these concerns: all you need here as a blogger is your text; the platform provides the distribution, even “linking” to the original blog.
The platform, known lovingly to its fans as “HuffPost”, works so well because it conforms to the laws of the new media economy. In principle, there are three successful ways to find your reader: either the article is popular on its site, or it is easy to “find” because it corresponds to the search engines’ criteria, or it is frequently recommended because readers have liked it so much – a.k.a. “socialled”.
The media rainbow has developed more colors, and The Huffington Post wishes to encourage even more people to take up their paintbrushes. It is the world’s largest talk show, and every opinion counts!