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Feb 7 / Elizabeth DiNovella

Huffington Uncorks a New Wine

Back in 2008 at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City, Arianna Huffington was on a journalism panel entitled, “A New Media System? Or Old Wine in New Bottles?”

Huffington said that the bottles are definitely new, but it’s not entirely new wine. It’s a mixture. “There’s an awful amount of good that we want to keep from the old media: accuracy, fact checking, ferreting out the truth,” she said.

The main problem with old media is fake neutrality, she said. “They’ve given up the pursuit of the truth for the pursuit of fake neutrality, which means that they present every story and every issue as if it has two sides,” said Huffington. She said we’ve wasted years debating global warming this way. The two sides don’t deserve equal weight under the guise of reporters covering both sides of the issue. “The Earth is not flat,” Huffington said. “Evolution is a fact. Sorry Mike Huckabee—there is no other side to this issue.”

And what does the new media bring to out public debate? Transparency, accountability, and community, she said.

So what does the Huffington Post AOL merger mean for progressives?

In her blog post today, Huffington assures us the transformation will be positive.

“Far from changing our editorial approach, our culture, or our mission, this moment will be for HuffPost like stepping off a fast-moving train and onto a supersonic jet,” she wrote. “We’re still traveling toward the same destination, with the same people at the wheel, and with the same goals, but we’re now going to get there much, much faster.”

HuffPo is known for its brash approach to news. Huffington told The Progressive as much in an interview in the May 2009 issue. “I think people are attracted to The Huffington Post’s blend of up-to-the-second news and thoughtful opinion, delivered with an attitude,” she said.

Will HuffPo keep its progressive slant in its new incarnation? The New York Times reports, “AOL, which has been seen as apolitical, risks losing its nonpartisan image. Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business.”

We’ll have to wait and see what will come of an AOL and Huffington Post blend. Will it be an intoxicating Beaujolais? Or a boring corporate varietal of Shiraz?

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