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The Huffington Post - Opening Day Review

Arianna Huffington's much ballyhooed The Huffington Post (to be know hereafter as THP) opened its doors today to great fanfare, (front page of the Style section in The Washington Post) and scads of accumulated posts from the hundreds of contributors. There's a lot to wade through, so let's have at it.

The Decor

Overall the site is very inviting to the casual reader. The layout is tight and makes good use of excepts. Selected blog posts down the left side of the front page, headlines and splashy tabloid-ish stuff on the right. Compared to sites like The Nation, Slate, or National Review Online it's much more blog-like. It does got to show that you can extend the generic blog layout into something appealing with the judicious use of design.

The Plumbing

The Huffington Post (THP) is powered by Movable Type software so it's able to offer the kind of features (permalinks, comments, trackbacks, etc.) blog readers have come to expect, rather than having a subset of these functions bolted onto a content management system like the previously mentioned news magazines. Comments are allowed only in the news section, not the blog section where the "celebrity" bloggers post, and they're moderated throughout. Whether this will create an echo chamber remains to be seen, but even if it doesn't it will be interesting to see how long comments remain a feature.

The Lawyers Chime In

THP has an extended Terms of Service which can be summarized as follows: Don't rely on THP for anything; THP owes you nothing; nothing here should be relied on in your decision making; and THP content is copyrighted 5 ways to Sunday. Actually the THP terms of service are fairly standard, but they do contain wording in Section 4 and Section 5 which would seem to prohibit services like Bloglines from displaying THP content.

The Good

THP's most notable contributions (in terms of quality) come from those who are already regulars (or semi-regulars) in the online world like humorists, columnists, reporters, analysts, etc. For example, Harry Shearer looks to be bringing his quirky media analysis (Found Objects) from his own website to a column called Eat the Press.

The Newswire section is where the professionals ply their trade. Former Drudge Report collaborator Andrew Brietbart helms The Newswire. Brietbart and other staffers post without attribution [example] (as opposed to everyone else at THP), but it's these uncredited contributors who brings more to the mix than anyone else at THP. If the celebrities are THP's sizzle, Brietbart and crew are THP's steak and potatoes. Open for moderated comments and trackbacks from the beginning, The Newswire is the portion of the site that garnered pre-release speculation of a battle with Drudge. Given the lack of annoying popups, the dedicated RSS and Atom feed, the comments/trackbacks, and Brietbart's history at Drudge, The Newswire might actually be worth watching closely.

The Bad

The celebrity bloggers. Whether there's 300, 250, or 10 of them who really cares? For example, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall write three short paragraphs on gay marriage that are as memorable as Hall's post-SNL career. That single entry is a metaphor for the problem with the celebrity section as a whole, it's a cacophony of voices popping in and out and random intervals. There's no sense of community or even continuity. I rarely find myself wondering what THP contributor John Cusack has to say about a particular topic, but unless it's freshly posted at THP (within the last few hours), chances are I'd never find it - even if I were looking. Contrast that with the few celebrities that have actually settled down in the blogosphere; Wil Wheaton, for example, I always know where to find them.

The Ugly

On the first day I've seen several posts such as, Foxman Responds to Hip Hop Impresario Simmons, that fail to link to the THP story to which they are responding. From a readability perspective, this is an unforgivable sin. It's also a bit comical that THP has fallen hard in to self-reverence on only their first day of operation.

Conclusion

Overall the right side of the page at THP (The Newswire) looks to be worth monitoring, while the left side of the page (The Blog) looks to be worth gawking at. It's worth noting that their blogroll includes most of the Technorati Top 100, with a few notable (**cough**, #75, **cough**) exceptions, so they could make just a little improvement in that regard.


Other Reviews

Howard Kurtz
Michelle Malkin
Outside The Beltway
MediaGirl
Matt Welch
Nikki Finke - LA Weekly

Update: The Great Satan (also at Huffington Is Full Of Crap) has compiled a detailed statistical analysis of day one of THP, featuring such statistics as:

Number of posts by Technnophobe and or Technical Illiterates: 3
Number of posts by history rewriting megalomaniacs: 4


TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Huffington Post - Opening Day Review:

» Spark It Up! linked with Huff N Puff

» Dangerous Dan linked with The Huffington Post

» Vagabondia linked with We Are Live!

» SayUncle linked with Famous people are dull

» Don Singleton linked with Arianna's Blog Blows

» Wave Maker linked with Another Fatuous Mouthpiece

» Huffington Is Full Of Crap linked with Outside the Crapiverse...

» In Search Of Utopia linked with Speaking of...

» Aaron's cc: linked with Arianna Huffington - The Huffington Post

» CommentaryPage.com linked with The Huffington Post rolls out

» BIRD linked with TIDES

» Joust The Facts linked with Unintentionally Funny

» BIRD linked with TIDES

Comments (15)

I disagree. I think the ga... (Below threshold)

I disagree. I think the gay marriage comments are at least as memorable as JL-D's post-Seinfeld career.

You missed the screed by th... (Below threshold)

You missed the screed by that paragon of intellect, Jim Lampley. He says that, because Las Vegas oddsmakers are never wrong and pegged John Kerry to win based on exit polls, then the Bush people are guilty of the "crime of our lifetime."

No foolin, he really said that.

Hey wavemaker, are those th... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Hey wavemaker, are those the same Vegas oddsmakers that made Giacomo a 50-1 shot at the Kentucky Derby?

I was yawning about this no... (Below threshold)
BR:

I was yawning about this non-event, until I read Nikki Finke's conspiracy theory. What a laugh!

"It almost seems like some sick hoax. Perhaps Huffington is no longer a card-carrying progressive but now a conservative mole. Because she served up liberal celebs like red meat on a silver platter for the salivating and Hollywood-hating right wing to chew up and spit out. "

Beg pardon, but why did you... (Below threshold)
ShelaghC:

Beg pardon, but why did you not even mention the presence of one of this country's most trusted journalistic voices on the Huffington Post?

One would think that Walter Cronkite's column at THP would rate at least a footnote in your review?

When a possessive: "its". W... (Below threshold)
J.F.:

When a possessive: "its". When meaning "it is": "it's". I can't believe how many people get this wrong. Maybe they'll change the rules someday but until then, you've got a mistake in your article.

Thanks for the otherwise interesting article.

[Ed - Thanks. The it's/its correction was made in the first paragraph]

THP--Tennessee Highway Patr... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

THP--Tennessee Highway Patrol

Lampley's post is quite pos... (Below threshold)

Lampley's post is quite possibly the dumbest so far. Russell Simmons' apology for Farrakhan is a close second. Cronkite is third for "We had a meaningless convention last year, so let's have another and invite everybody to cheer for more elistist backroom dealmaking!"

...one of this country's... (Below threshold)

...one of this country's most trusted journalistic voices...

What -- Brit Hume's posting over there?

What a day (or two) to be m... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What a day (or two) to be migrating a site from one server to another (that means, I am at present), and, thus, be unable to write content (about this, particularly).

On the other hand, it is heartening to read that, even to liberal columnists (Nikke Finke in her recent column in the LAWeekly, "Arianna's Blog Blows"), THP, well, blows.

I can barely believe the overwhelmingly conclusive response, which mirrors well how I responded and even to the very concept by those involved, and that is that THP is the cough afterward. Huffington (and her 'players') missed the opportunity to become Liberal Crone and is now reduced to Liberal Drone instead. It's not even sad, it's justice.

Oh, I forgot to include the... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Oh, I forgot to include the rallying cry that we conservatives are expected (read that Finke column, ^^) to be yelling right about now:

"RED MEAT, RED MEAT!"

I am finding most amusing h... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I am finding most amusing how Geffen and "the Geffen people" are busy with all this revisionist P.R.

He wasn't involved! He had nothing to do with it! He doesn't even write in complete sentences!

Ha.

Good, thorough review. </p... (Below threshold)

Good, thorough review.

I had a possible antidote to the HuffPost at mp.blogs.com...

Beg pardon, but why did ... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Beg pardon, but why did you not even mention the presence of one of this country's most trusted journalistic voices on the Huffington Post?

One would think that Walter Cronkite's column at THP would rate at least a footnote in your review?

If THP had this kind of humor on it, maybe it wouldn't suck so badly.

Kevin complains about the o... (Below threshold)

Kevin complains about the omission of Wizbang from The Huffin Puffin, yet he himself has omitted The Unalienable Right from his own blog roll! The nerve! The gall! The HYPOCRISY!




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