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Life Arts    H3'ed 2/9/11

Glynn Wilson on the Huffington Post/AOL Merger

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My guest today is Glynn Wilson, editor and publisher of the Locust Fork News-Journal. Welcome back to OpEdNews.  Everyone's all abuzz about the HuffPo/AOL merger. What's your reaction, Glynn?

It comes as a surprise to a lot of liberal readers loyal to the Democratic Party, I guess, although it is not a shock to me.

It has been obvious from the start that The Huffington Post was a celebrity tabloid created to make money first, mostly using free think tank bloggers to cover the news from the left, while taking all the same corporate advertising everyone else uses, including all the big papers online.

America Online has struggled since it became obvious in the late 1990s that the premature takeover of Time Inc. was based on an unsustainable revenue stream. Remember when people paid $20 a month for the service in the early days of the Net expansion? That seems quaint now.

My first big lecture at Loyola University New Orleans in 2000 to communications students was a presentation on the AOL-Time merger and how it was another escalation in the consolidation of big media into fewer hands.

I can't remember exactly when the split between AOL and Time occurred off the top of my head, [ed. note: May, 2009] but it damaged the Time Inc. brand and stock price forever.

The $315 million may sound like a lot of money, but it is pretty minor in Web startup dollars. It will give the publication capital to continue publishing and maybe hire some writers, and AOL will be able to capitalize on the news content.

But what I'm wondering is this: How are George Soros and Robert Kennedy Jr. reacting? Is anybody quoting them yet?

They donated a huge chunk of the $1.7 million the Post was supposed to be using to connect the national dots with some investigative journalism. The editors decided to use the money for stories related to the financial meltdown, about the time that story was about over. I got one of the first checks from the fund, but never saw the money used wisely. They got creamed by Rolling Stone anyway.

In fact, the Post agreed to sign a contract and pay for my story below, and then refused to run it. Guess if it had been free, they would have used it without editing. I believe they refused to run it because they considered it to anti-big business for their advertising stream from big corporations like BP and Southern Company.

I've had a number of readers say it was the best story ever published revealing the true nature of Alabama's conservative Senator Jeff Sessions:

Senator Risks Party's Future in Supreme Court Hearings

The deal has generated a lot of speculation and concern on the Left.  What ramifications will the merger have on the progressive blogosphere? Does this spell its demise, as some surmise,  since HuffPo has been such a major player?

I've had exactly zero time to see what other lefty bloggers are saying about it, but like I said, this will give them the capital (money) to continue publishing.

I was not linking to the HPost anyway, so it will have no effect on my site whatsoever. Anybody else who was relying on it may consider looking elsewhere now.

I never considered it a major player. I know the amateur headline chasers on Facebook did, but not me. There are plenty of news outlets to turn to for the exact same or even better news links. Try Politico, The Hill and Talking Points Memo, especially the TPMMuckraker, or even Alternet at times.

There is no doubt AOL will be even more corporate in outlook and advertising support, so why should we trust them for news? There are a thousand other sites with the same AP feed. Yahoo is faster. And The New York Times and Washington Post are still essential, if some on the left have problems with the Post's editorial page and some of the Times' coverage, with good reasons to be concerned. They too are mainstream, corporate media, but they do still cover significant stories and break stories, so they cannot be ignored.

The Times also still has a couple of the best columnists, although that may change if they re-erect the pay wall soon.

I would view it as another in a long line of corporate takeovers of independent media. It may not big as big as Comcast buying NBC and sacking Keith Olbermann. But it is another indication that Corporate America is fully-funded, thanks to the Bush-Roberts Supreme Court. And they are coming after any media they can get out of the way of telling the truth -- even if they have to buy them out to get rid of them.

Adrianna Huffington is not a major progressive-liberal activist-journalist anyway. She came on the scene as a libertarian, and switched because she found she could get an audience playing one on TeeVee.

Anything else you'd like to add, Glynn, on the merger or anything else before we wrap this up?

Long live the Web Press!

Freedom of the Press is reserved for those who own servers, baby. ..

Thanks so much for talking with me again, Glynn.  We'll continue to follow this story with great interest. 


Glynn Wilson is Editor & Publisher for The Locust Fork News-Journal
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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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