Huffington Post creator says Canadian media need to focus more effort online

September 16, 2011  |  Canadian Press  |  Comments

“Promiscuity may not be good in a relationship, but it’s good online”

Arianna Huffington says Canadian media companies should invest in digital platforms and not treat them as stepchildren to their print products.

The American online media mogul says that’s a view U.S. news organizations have ignored in the past – to their detriment.

She recalled being told by journalists who broke a story at night that their editors would often decide to hold their scoop until the next day’s newspaper so they could feature it on a front page.

Huffington said that story would have more clout if it were posted online immediately.

“If you have a story, print it,” she said during her address to an annual convention of Quebec media firms. Huffington stressed that today’s fast-paced world demands real-time information.

Huffington, who gave a speech and then took questions from the audience, complained that too many traditional media outlets treat their digital presence “as a stepchild.”

As an example of how online has affected traditional media, Huffington asked her audience how many people had seen comedian Tina Fey do her famous imitation of former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Most of the people in the large hall raised their hands. Then Huffington asked how many had actually seen it when it was first broadcast on TV’s Saturday Night Live. Just a handful said they had, meaning most had noticed it on the internet.

Huffington, who is a regular guest on U.S. talk shows, said companies shouldn’t be shy about having a strong online presence.

“Promiscuity may not be good in a relationship, but it’s good online,” she said.

Huffington, who has carved out a significant place as an opinion-shaper in the United States, held forth at length on how she started her Huffington Post site in 2005 and grew it to the point where it is now expanding worldwide. She continues to play a leading role, despite selling the organization for US$315 million to AOL.

After launching Huffington Post Canada earlier this year, she went on to start a UK version. Others are planned for Spain, Brazil, France and even Quebec.

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