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D7 Interview: Arianna Huffington and Katharine Weymouth May 28, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in D7 All Things Digital.
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duo-huffington-weymouthArianna Huffington and Katharine Weymouth

Arianna Huffington’s self-named Web site is one the most prominent (and fast-growing) examples of the new media aggreation model — produce a smattering of your own content, and spread it across a site filled with stuff everyone else has made.

Katharine Weymouth runs the digital arm of the Washington Post Co (WPO). — which happens to be the family business. Unlike the rest of the company’s flagship paper, the Post’s online revenue is still growing. But not fast enough to offset the rest of the company’s decline.

How people use the web – really “blow up out newsroom” – used to be structured around “sections” (feature section for example) – on Oscar Sunday we looked at the cover of Sunday’s source – we had “how to plan your funeral” – well we thought that was useful information – we thought we could not cover the Oscars because “style” had that…

Will the print product keep declining?

60 people work for the blog run by Arianna Huffington

800 professional editors and writers, etc. work for the “print” version of the post lead by Katharine Weymouth

Is the print media facing a similar situation as the American auto industry?

Disruptive innovation – will this be the way to address the problems we see – we cannot go back to the way it was – there is no “wayback machine” for the media options now.  We live in a “linked economy” today – there should not be special treatment or set asides or other benefits for print media – we tried that with the auto industry many years ago and just recently and look how well that worked out.

Can you keep that big organization going (the Post?) – Why do people come to the Washington Post – They trust the content.  Internet investments have been significant at the Post and yet the technology landscape is also changing rapidly.  We are cutting costs (printing plants and shrinking the newsroom).

In 1975 – when the Post broke Watergate – we had 375 people in the “newsroom”  IN 1933 when the “great grandfather” bought the newspaper they were the 5th newspaper in a 5-newspaper town and it took years to build up to profitability.

Nothing yet has been invented (in digital form) that represents the “package” that is offered by the “newspaper”.

ADD vs OCD

Digital media suffers from attention deficit disorder – Traditional print media suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder

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