Harvard Journalism Lab Assesses HuffPost’s Hybrid Journalism

Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab unravels the ins and outs of HuffPost Impact, a new section that began in October that gives readers a chance to give back – financially, that is. The section shares ad revenue with the outside Santa Monica-based non-profit company, Causecast. It’s a win-win for HuffPost and Causecast.

But is it a win for journalism?

Well, the jury is still out, says Laura McGann an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Labm who points out that HuffPost runs a disclaimer at the end of the posts saying “they do not vouch for the truth of the person being profile”. “The HuffPo-Causecast arrangement, in conjunction with ads, could be an example of the kind of hybrid solution publishers are struggling to find,” McGann writes. “However, by blurring the line between advertising and content, it also raises questions about conflicts of interest and editorial responsibility.”

McGann tells FishbowlDC that she does not have a huge opinion on whether this relationship is “good or bad” per say. “Does the Huffington Post reader know there is a special relationship there?” she asks. “I think that what Huffington Post is trying to do here is engage readers and get them involved in the story, and I think you’re going to see more of that. A flat ad does not engage a reader. …I don’t know that it’s entirely clear to the reader here that this is different than Huffington Post creating content.”

Read McGann’s full story here.