This morning I was certain I would wake up an around seven or eight and run a lap on the treadmill. I mean, I got myself up to brush my teeth and stuff, but I crawled back under the warm blankets afterward. I tell myself that I'll do the lap when I get home from work, but all I do is watch TV, and today being thursday, all I do is channel surf until The office, 30 rock come on. I think I'll watch this cspan crap when I'm able to fire up the real computer. I'm stuck here at work sitting next to a motor mouth, and my co-working, who's helping customers at the check out counter.
Huff TV: Arianna Testifies About The Future Of Journalism Before Senate Subcommittee On Communications
Like any good news story, let me start with the headline. Journalism will not only survive, it will thrive, but the discussion needs to move from 'how do we save newspapers' to 'how to we save and strengthen journalism' however it's delivered. Despite all the dire news about the state of the newspaper industry, we are actually in the middle of the golden age for news consumers who can surf the net, use search engines, access the best news stories from around the world and be able to comment, interact and form communities. Journalism plays an indispensable role in our democracy, but it's important to remember that the future of journalism is not dependent on the future of newspapers.
The great upheavel the news industry is going thru is the result of a perfect storm of transformativisticology, the advent of Craig's list, dramatic changes in consumer habits, and the dire impact the economic crisis has had on advertising. And there's no question that, as the industry moves forward, we will need to have an enormous amount of experimentation with new revenue models in new devices like the Kindle that you, Senator, mentioned in the beginning.
But what won't work and what can't work is to pretend that the last fifteen years never happened—that we're still operating in the old content economy, as opposed to what Jeff Jarvis has called the new linked economy—and that the survival of the industry will be found by protecting content behind walled gardens. We've seen that movie, and consumers have given it lousy reviews. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said 2500 years ago "We cannot enter into the same river twice" despite Mr. Simon's wishes. Now the future is to be found elsewhere. It's a linked economy. It's search engines. It's on-line advertising. It's citizen journalism, and the foundation supported investigative funds. That's where the future is, and if you can't find your way to that, then you just can't find your way.
Many online video providers are showing us how. Instead of sticking their finger in the dike, trying to hold back the flow of innovation by hoarding their content, smart companies begin providing embedable players that allow that content to be posted all over the web accompanied by links and ads that have generated additional traffic and revenue, which is why many, many more people, millions more, saw Tina Fey impersonate Sarah Palin elsewhere and not on SNL. As ad executive, Linda Kaplan Thaler put it, we never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time; so we have to find a way to be everywhere. Ubiquity is the new exclusivity. When I hear the heads of media companies talking about restricting content, I can't help feeling the way I did in 2001, when I was one of the cofounders of the Detroit project and watched as the heads of the auto industry decided that instead of embracing the future, they would rather spend considerable energy and considerable amounts of money lobbying the government for tax loopholes for gas guzzling SUVs, and fighting fuel efficiency standards. And we saw, Mr. Chairman, how well that turned out. So, instead of similarly trying to hold back the future, I suggest that media executives read the innovator's dilemma, by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, and see what he has to say about disruptive innovation, and the futility of resisting it instead of seizing the opportunities it provides. And that's why it's imperative, Mr. Chairman, that Congress and the FCC make sure that having placed smart policies that bridge the digital divide and protect innovators and consumers from attempts to undermine net neutrality or impose, as you've recently seen, unjustified charges like metering on Internet users. And why it's also very important to update the press gallery credentialing rules. Digital news is a classic case of disruptive innovation. Even so, I think all the obituaries for newspapers are premature. Many papers are belatedly, but successfully adopting to the new news environment. Plus, until those of us who came of age before the Internet all die off, there will be a market for print versions of newspapers because it appears to be in our collective DNA. That's why I firmly believe in a hybrid future where old media players embrace the ways of new media. Especially transparency, interactivity, and immediacy; and new media companies adopt the best practices of old media, especially fairness, accuracy, and high impact investigative journalism.
So to conclude this hybrid future, we'll include non-profit/for-profit models like the investigative fund that the Huffington Post recently launched which is backed by non-profit foundations and provides both staff reporters and freelance journalists, who have lost their jobs, the opportunity to pursue important stories. There are many other models like that: Propublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and I'm sure there'll be many more to follow. And let's not forget that our current media culture failed to serve the public interest by missing, with many honorable exceptions, the two biggest stories of our time. The run up to the war in Iraq and the financial meltdown.
We've had far too many autopsies and not enough biopsies, and online news is particularly well suited to obsessively follow a story until it breaks through the static. So, we need also remind ourselves that the mission of journalism has always been truth seeking, not as it has been too often become striking some fictitious balance between two sides. So we stand on the threshold of a very challenging, but very exciting, future. Indeed I'm convinced that the best days of journalism lie ahead, just as so long as we embrace innovation and don't try to pretend that we can somehow hop into a journalistic way back machine and return to a past that no longer exists and can no longer be resurrected.
And this is the second video containing Arianna's testimony during the interview with John Kerry.
Ms. Huffington, you've been perhaps the most single successfull person on the internet in terms of presenting an entirely new product in almost newspaper form which has become it's own destination sight. Share with us, first of all, how many people put that together at this point? How many people on staff are working would you say part of your…
Right now, the Huffington Post employs sixty people and the investigative fund that we launched last month will employ ten full time people, and then hundreds of freelancers who'll be assigned specific stories. But following on Mr Mayer's point, first of all, there are already laws in place, Mr. Chairman. Fair use laws. So, now aggregator can actually actually just take a story. They have to take a small part of the story to give it taste to the consumer of what the story's about, but to have to read the full story, they would have to go to the content creator, and monetizing that is really the future.
As a video producer, as also many networks have done, cable companies have done, through these embedable players where they put advertising, they put links to other stories on their network on their cable company.
But what you've done, essentially, is create a non-profit entity under the umbrella of your for-profit entity, and the non-profit entity will go out and do the investigative piece. Is that correct?
But the not for profit entity will be open source which means that the content that the not for profit entity produces will be available to anybody at the same time as it is available to the Huffington Post; so the New York Times could take it at the same time. Anybody could. And the way we would all monetize that is again through advertizing. And, in a way, it is absolutely true that advertising has not moved online as eyeballs have moved online, but that's the period of transition that we are at at the moment.
But, let me. Let me—this will be my last question, then I wanna turn it umph…—if we can clearly, the folks who are in what has been dubbed the legacy side of the industry, are struggling because they're not getting the revenue that they use to get to pay for the overhead for their type of operation. Now admittedly, things are changing, and things change in the business world and they may have to change their business model. But even assuming they adjust and change the business model and move, there's still a certain level of skill and quality and experience and standard and so forth that Mr. Simon et.al. have referred to, and deployment. I mean, putting people into Kabul, putting people into Islamabad, having people on the ground, building relationships. There's not evidence yet, at least, of a… I mean this parasite issue is real in the… to the degree that people feel that the Internet is providing their work without a level of compensation for what it cost them to produce it.
Well that's why, Mr. Chairman, I've talked about a hybrid model. At the Huffington Post, for example, we have a licensing agreement with AP. We pay for that. We pay for the AP stories that we post on the Huffington Post. We also have over a thousand original blogs on the site. You have kindly blogged on the Huffington Post. There's a lot of original content on the site.
In my case, it's very original
Heh-heh… which is available to others to link to use again without charge.
Well, I'm sure we're going to pursue this more. I'm want to let my colleagues have a change to disconcern kbla…