For the past few weeks rumors have abounded that The New Yorker was preparing a “hit piece” on Arianna Huffington. Since the term “hit piece” is not something we normally associate with The New Yorker we had our suspicions as to how hard-hitting it was actually going to be. Still, word on the street was that New Yorker scribe Lauren Collins had been doing some digging, so who knew!
Well turns out all the concern (anticipation?) was unnecessary. Collin’s profile is a mostly flattering one (Huffington is “one of the Anglophone world’s most nimble and ubiquitous communicators”), revealing very little about the woman behind the online media empire (full disclosure: we worked at HuffPo for a short time and continue to make intermittent appearances). So, the question on everyone’s mind now appears to be, were there perhaps some things that Collins missed (like, is it strange there’s no mention of Huffington Post CEO Betsy Morgan)?
Ryan Tate over at Gawker compiled his own laundry list of possible questions Collins could have (should have?) asked.
But there’s so much missing, so much that should be in this 14-page story, starting first with how she runs the Huffington Post — would any male mogul be profiled at such length with so little said about how he runs his business? — and continuing through to juicer questions about her dating life and cultlike religious guru.
Some examples per Tate:
Collins also delves into the much-explored topic of Huffington’s affiliation with spiritual guru John-Roger. But what about how she has stocked her site with fans of the culty leader?
Just one paragraph on the Tim Russert feud? Can she still not come up with anything nice to say? Is it true top NBC News staff hated her even more after Russert died?
How does Arianna run the Huffington Post? What’s it like to work there? It’s hardly surprising or scandalous that Huffington can be an “erratic… high-strung boss” or that she has lost 15+ employees, as reported in the profile. Sample quote: “One of the frustrating things was that she had absolutely no compunctions about saying, ‘Hey, do this,’ and then saying, ‘Why did you do that? I never asked you to do that.'”
If the HuffPo has been called an “internet newspaper,” as the New Yorker reminds us, Collins would have been well-served to take a look at how much it spends on actual reporting. Mayhill Fowler, arguably its brightest star at the moment, paid her own expenses and received no salary. Huffington herself said many staff left because they “wanted to be writers…. the jobs are administrative.”
Lauren Collins crafts a solicitous if not fully satisfying opus on a woman of nerve, energy, eclectic intellect and renowned networking aplomb. If there is a thesis, it surfaces late…readers don’t get much insight into how she’s actually pulled off this impressively successful website and gained a distinctly new status amid the bloody competition of the Internet.