Clues About The Huffpo AOL Deal

Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and now it’s all clear why Huffington Post was acting weird and now that we think about it – corporate.

One clue was taking down content provided for free from its bloggers. A notable one (and the only one brave enough to let us use his name) is Cenk Uygur. His post in the wake of the Tucson shooting was deleted from the site. After we reported what happened to Uygur (now a paid contributor at MSNBC and a perma-fill-in for the 3pm slot since Keith Olbermann left) others who’ve had their blog posts taken down contacted us. They wanted to be off the record. So we’ll just rib them anonymously as cowards.

Anyway, another tip off was a memo to comment editors requesting they scrub all comments about Arianna Huffington getting kicked off an airplane for Blackberry use. It was a little secretive for a wide-open place to exchange ideas like the community of the Huffington Post.

In the wake of our reporting the memo suddenly bloggers were no longer able to post directly onto the Internet. For nearly six years the legions of notables and other interesting people with a Huffpo account, some 3000 people or so, could just post directly onto the Internet and it instantly went live. We were told it had nothing to do with FishbowlLA’s reporting and it was Huffpo’s attempt to utilize their editors more. So now you have to submit content and the editors post it. According to reports, this is no longer instant and sometimes takes days or more to get a post up.

It was obvious that something was in the works. Huffington Post was the scrappy little Internet newspaper start up, the progressive news aggregator that could – a star-studded experiment suddenly getting very starched. Remember, they’re getting 26 million unique views a month and only recently (60 days ago) were able to make a profit.

There were signs. We didn’t see them. Nor did others.

So the question going forward is: will anyone blog for free for a billion dollar corporation?

Will you? Email us. We’ll only call you cowards anonymously if we can’t use your name. We’re cool like that.