The HuffPo Effect: Everyone Wants Their Own Online News Brand

neargg01_huff.jpgSo, what to do if you are a former publishing doyenne who, after years of dominating the print world finds themselves thrust into the wilds of the online media scene? Obviously you follow Arianna Huffington’s uber-successful example and start your own website/news aggregate.

To that end we already know about Bonnie Fuller’s intention to re-invent herself in the dot com world; there’s also been recent news about Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, and just this week former NYTer Sharon Waxman is set to launch The Wrap. “Certainly, they’re looking at the Huffington Post and thinking they can replicate that, because they have their own brand name,” says PaidContent’s Rafat Ali.

And that’s great, we love HuffPo — we often used to write for it, in fact; it can be very useful and in the three years since its launch Arianna has turned it into an enormous influencer of all things. However! We think it bears mentioning that what Arianna had beyond investors and a good idea was a little something called timing. As in, she just so happened to launch her blog a year before the onset of the biggest, longest, (arguably most historical, though we’ll see) election season in modern times. Not only that, it happened to dovetail with the emergence of the commentariat, meaning that despite a lot of initial talk about celebrity contributors it turned out she really didn’t need them so much, in fact some would argue they ended up needing her more. In any event, the end result is that much of the success her site has seen has arguably been a direct result of her having rather ingeniously hooked it on to the story of the decade, a feat that is going to be much harder to accomplish after November. Something we imagine Arianna is well aware of. In fact, between now and November we suspect Ms. Huffington will be taking advantage of a whole other sort of timing and, come election day, will be in the process of unloading Huffington Post for a gazillion dollars to the nearest media mogul with online news aggregate dollar signs in their eyes.