Much of what appears on HuffPost is written by bloggers who write for no pay. The fact that thousands will see their scribblings is apparently all the compensation they desire.
And then there's the serious stuff. Huffington Post "borrows" or "aggregates" - hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories a week from mainstream hard news websites.
Here's how it works: A newspaper pays a reporter to write a story. The reporter's story appears on the paper's website. Huffington Post then comes along and rewrites the story - adding no original reporting of its own - and posts the story on its site with a link to the original newspaper story.
It's a formula that's made Arianna Huffington a very wealthy woman.
Last February, AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million. The news didn't escape the attention of HuffPost's unpaid bloggers.
Arianna Huffington once boasted that "HuffPost [has] 148 full-time editors, writers, and reporters engaged in the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism."
Last Nov. 30, Huffington announced the rollout of HuffPost Miami.
Huffington told her readers that HuffPost Miami would, "dig deeper in an effort to tell the stories of all the people who make up this unique city -- one that is a combustible blend of the old and the new, the glittery and the grimy, the transient and the entrenched. Our coverage will include the struggles that are familiar to cities all across the country but that have hit Miami particularly hard."
So, how's that working out? Let's check up on HuffPost Miami and see how they're practicing "the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism."
For starters, Random Pixels has learned that HuffPost Miami has a staff of two. A third paid staffer has yet to be hired.
Maybe I'm naive, but where I come from it's a little hard to "tell the stories of all the people who make up this unique city" with a staff of just two or three.
So, what does the staff of HuffPost Miami do?
They're doing what made Arianna rich ... which ain't even close to "serious, traditional journalism", unless, of course you got your journalism degree from San Quentin or Raiford.
The HuffPost Miami staff is hard at work, busily
And some in local media circles are starting to notice.
Today on Facebook, Miami Herald intern Jon Silman wrote, "The dream of any journalist? Why, Huffpost aggregation, of course. Thanks for the (sort of) link guys."
What Silman was referring to was HuffPost Miami's wholesale cut-and-paste job of his story on the family of a woman killed in a crash that won an almost $9 million judgment against Luis Cruz-Govin, the teen driver who caused the crash.
Instead of summing up the story in a few paragraphs and then linking to the Herald story, HuffPost Miami staffer Amanda McCorquodale rewrote Silman's story, cutting and pasting key details and elements from the story.
McCorquodale tries and fails to cover up her literary larceny with some shady sleight of hand that wouldn't fool Stevie Wonder.
Silman writes about a "partially consumed" bottle of cough syrup found in Cruz-Govin's car. In McCorquodale's story it becomes a "half-empty" bottle of cough syrup. Nice try Amanda.
Here are more examples:
From the Herald story: Myriam del Socorro Lopez was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, travelling eastbound on Bird Road, when Luis Cruz-Govin, 17 at the time, was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic in his father’s Subaru.In another Herald story posted on the paper's website Monday evening, veteran staffer Andres Viglucci wrote about the Dade Heritage Trust's efforts to have the Miami Herald building declared a historic landmark.
From the HuffPost story: In 2008, Myriam del Socorro Lopez was in the car with her husband on Bird Road when 17-year-old Luis Cruz-Govin, speeding and weaving, crashed into their vehicle. Lopez died on the scene.
From the Herald story: “The (defendant) was clearly a chronic texter,” Goldfarb said, citing the 127 texts Cruz-Govin sent on the day of the accident.
From the HuffPost story: Not only was Cruz-Govin speeding, according to the Herald, he was a habitual texter. On the day of the accident, records show he sent 127 texts, the Herald reports.
From the Herald story: According to the complaint, there was marijuana and cocaine in the Subaru, and a partially consumed bottle of Delsym cough syrup.
From the HuffPost story: Police also found marijuana and cocaine in [Cruz-Govin's] car as well as a half-empty bottle of cough syrup.
By 9am Tuesday, Janie Campbell, "founding editor" of HuffPost Miami had copied and regurgitated Viglucci's story all over HuffPost Miami's homepage.
In her story, Campbell cuts and pastes entire quotes and chunks from Viglucci's story:
From the Herald story: In a statement to The Herald, Christian Goode, president of Genting’s Resorts World Miami subsidiary, called the Herald building “an affront to smart urban planning’’ because it blocks views of and public access to Biscayne Bay.Random Pixels contacted Campbell today to get her side of the story. She declined to say anything on the record until she could get an OK from her bosses in New York.
From the HuffPost story: Genting, [...] immediately responded with a statement declaring the One Herald Plaza "an affront to smart urban planning." (NOTE: Here Campbell attempted to change the phrase "the Herald building" in Viglucci's story to "One Herald Plaza" but neglected to edit out the word "the." Busted!)
From the Herald story: “It may be an uphill a battle, but it’s a worthwhile undertaking,’’ said Heritage Trust chief executive Becky Roper Matkov after the group’s board voted to proceed with the application, which is now being drafted. “I’m sure we will have a lot of opposition from monied interests. That hasn’t stopped us before.’’
From the HuffPost story: “I’m sure we will have a lot of opposition from monied interests," Matkov told the Herald, who are rent-free tenants in the building until 2013. "That hasn’t stopped us before."
From the Herald story: “There’s just one issue: Does it meet the criteria?’’ said historian Arva Moore Parks, former chairwoman of the city’s planning board, who supports the designation. “Then you have to follow the law.’’
From the HuffPost story: Historian Arva Moore Parks, former chairwoman of the city's planning board, told the Herald, "There's just one issue: Does it meet the criteria? Then you have to follow the law."
By phone, Hirsch declined to comment except to say, "I'll say what I have to say directly to the Huffington Post. There are some things we'll be discussing soon."
Others at the Herald agreed to talk with me on the condition I not use their names.
Of Huffington Post Miami's practices, one long-time Herald reporter told me, "Sure they link to our stories, but who's going to click through after they've read the entire story on the Huffington Post?"
Another Herald journalist was a little more direct: "We knew this was going to happen. The crop of people they hired couldn't get hired at the Herald," adding, "If you can't find an original story in this town on your own, then you ain't a journalist."