Arianna Huffington: The Secret to Success is Passion

The secret to success is passion, said Arianna Huffington, founder and editor-in-chief of the web’s top ranked blog (according to Technorati) the Huffington Post, as she sat down for a keynote chat with Tim O’Reilly on the final day of the Web 2.0 Expo in New York this week. The “obsessive compulsive nature of the web” is what first attracted her to blogging, said Huffington, and the ability for people to make a difference on the Internet by just plugging away at what they believe in, regardless of how small their voice is.

If you are passionate about a subject, you can be successful at it if you keep pushing, said Huffington, echoing what Gary Vaynerchuk had told the crowd a day earlier.

Founded in 2005, the Huffington Post now attracts 3.6 million unique visitors per month, according to Compete, and employs about 60 people. Conceived to be a “news aggregator with an attitude,” Huffington told the crowd, the site provides a platform for around 2,000 bloggers, both known and unknown. Central to their success, though, is the community that they’ve been able to build around their content.

Allowing comments on the site was a smart early move, and stories now routinely get hundreds or thousands of comments daily. Huffington is glad that from day one they made the decision to pre-moderate the comments. The site employs about 30 moderators now, whose sole job is to remove any ad hominem attacks before they are published. “Without the moderation the attacks would undermine the conversation,” said Huffington, who lightheartedly appealed to developers in the crowd to accelerate efforts on automated content moderation tools.

In addition to passion and a strong sense of community, Huffington told the crowd that their success can be owed to the great team they have been able to assemble. “The key is to create a community of people who constantly want to invent and reinvent,” she said, noting that being based in New York has made recruitment of young, passionate editors much easier.

Huffington drew some big laughs when O’Reilly said that he thought she had a lot in common with News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, because they both seek use news as a vehicle to shape the way people think. “Huge difference,” said Huffington to a round of applause, “we want to shape the debate based on facts.”

The job of journalists, according to Huffington, is to seek the truth, and the Internet makes that easier because of its self-correcting nature. “If I have one name or anything wrong in my blog post I know that it will be less than a minute before a commenter points in out and I can correct it transparently,” she said.

But what’s the next big thing on the Internet? According to Huffington, the next big thing is going to be disconnecting in order to get connected with ourselves. She urged the audience to “unplug and recharge,” saying that sleep deprivation was a bad thing. After a hectic week in New York, I’m rather inclined to agree.

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  • Anonymous

    I find it humorous that Huffington says…“we want to shape the debate based on facts.” The Huffington post is routinely exposed for “reporting” inaccurate information as well as allowing hateful comments!

  • http://www.foundrylabs.co.uk stuartk

    According to Huffington, the next big thing is going to be disconnecting in order to get connected with ourselves.

    So basically, she doesn’t know what the next big thing is, but that sounds fairly guru like, let’s go with that.

  • Rediculous

    Her site is a cesspool of political rumors and smearing. Saying it’s based on facts is like saying the National Enquirer is factual. It’s a disservice to the American people, along with the rest of the liberally biased media.

  • Anonymous

    How on earth does one Blog with attitude? This one word is oft repeated but I suspect MUCH misunderstood! unless of course your bloggers DO geniunely smash the keys as hard as they can whilst typing!!

  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    Nothing like uninformed personal attacks on Huffington and her blog to undermine her work…no, wait, it undermines the posters’ positions and nothing more.

    Let’s blow out a few inaccuracies. (Disclaimer: Although I like much of what Huffington does, I rarely read a lot of its content, nor do I post there. I have no interest in defending it except in the interest of truth and accuracy.)

    The Huffington post is routinely exposed for “reporting” inaccurate information as well as allowing hateful comments!

    Sometimes the reporting does indeed turn out to be inaccurate. When that happens, Huffington issues retractions. I can’t help but contrast their behavior to that of the “liberal” New York Times, which posted dozens of articles based on lies from the Iraqi National Congress that helped make the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq. No retractions were issued for almost a year after the invasion. Conservative media sources such as Fox News and the Washington Times make many, many more inaccurate reports, and almost never issue retractions. Remember when Fox asserted that legally, it felt no compunction to report truthfully?

    As for “hateful comments,” Huffington allows comments up to about this point right here:

    Her site is a cesspool of political rumors and smearing. Saying it’s based on facts is like saying the National Enquirer is factual. It’s a disservice to the American people, along with the rest of the liberally biased media.

    This kind of comment would be allowed on Huffington, but it’s about as far as the site will go. From my experience, if you made this comment about the average mainstream news site or blog, you’d be asked to support your contention with facts. (If it was Fox News or one of the plethora of conservative nutjob sites such as NewsMax or WND, well, the community would enthusiastically agree with you.) The slam on “the rest of the liberally biased media” is an ugly and inaccurate attack that is factually wrong. Too many studies have shown that the mainstream American media has, if anything, a conservative bias. (Please don’t cite Bernard Goldberg as refutation.) If you’d like real hate speech, may I refer you to the Free Republic, which enthusiastically accepts the crudest racial, religious, and gender-based attacks on people its community doesn’t like. My favorite example: the large and multi-faceted discussion of whether subjecting Hillary Clinton to repeated gang-rapes would make her a better presidential candidate. You will not see that level of discussion on Huffington.

    Sitepoint is a technical site. It is not a political site. Yet all but one of the criticisms I see posted regarding the Huffington Post can be boiled down to, “I don’t like Huffington’s politics, so I am going to lambast and revile it.” (Of course, much of the vituperation is coming from anonymous posters, so whoever that person or persons is/are, they don’t have the courage to put their moniker where their mouth is.)

    This one I agree with:

    So basically, she doesn’t know what the next big thing is, but that sounds fairly guru like, let’s go with that.

    Catone did not say a word about the political content of the blog (though I imagine he credits us with enough knowledge to know that Huffington is a liberal political blog and news source). He’s talking about how Huffington does what it does, and how it has become such a success. My suggestion: if you don’t like what Huffington does politically, then find some conservative blog like Little Green Footballs or Instapundit and try to help it replicate Huffington’s success, or start your own. You might emulate two things that Huffington does for its success: let the community participate (i.e. enable comments instead of keeping the conversation one-way, and don’t delete/ban merely because a comment disagrees with your politics) and post both commentary and fact-based articles instead of relying on one-note, single-minded, easily-refuted and disproven spin.

  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    Side note: I wish SP blogs allowed for <p> </p> coding. My little epistle above would look a lot better if it were broken up.

  • Ken

    Black Max,

    Thanks for giving an intelligent rubuttal. I’m breathing fine again, and my blood pressure is back down.

  • Money Grubber

    The secret to success is to marry someone rich, divorce them and use their surname and squillions of alimony to not have to work a real job.

  • http://www.sagewing.com Sagewing

    What a tragically flawed and bizarre analysis of Huffington’s success as it relates to the web industry and web technologies. Her success is built on pandering to the radical liberal smear machine, and the growth of her group is more based on popularism than any good business or technology practices. This article reminds me that Sitepoint is a great destination for web industry discussion shouldn’t step into the leagues of big business or god forbid, politics.

    The mention of Huffington’s desire to be more factual is essentially adding a bickering and debating point to the discussion that removes any chance of a relevant message coming from this article (let alone a discussion).

    Frankly I am surprised that such an [obviously] politically slanted organization would even be discussed on Sitepoint. Was it not obvious that the comments would quickly start referencing Fox and Air America? Is it not fair to say that the author is almost certainly swayed by the content of Huffington’s blathering more than he is impressed by her cutting-edge understanding of web technologies?

  • Stephen

    This kind of comment would be allowed on Huffington, but it’s about as far as the site will go. From my experience, if you made this comment about the average mainstream news site or blog, you’d be asked to support your contention with facts.

    You must have been on vacation the time they posted a picture of Joe Lieberman photoshopped with blackface. This is just one of countless examples of how suggesting HP takes the moral and factual high ground is nothing short of laughable. You can refer to other websites if it makes you feel better about defending HP, but I should note that no one here is touting such sites as a beacon of truth in the world, as you are doing with this site. Moreover:

    Yet all but one of the criticisms I see posted regarding the Huffington Post can be boiled down to, “I don’t like Huffington’s politics, so I am going to lambast and revile it.”

    Interestingly, all but one of the criticisms I see are regarding the supposed accuracy of the site’s content. What you seem intent to “boil it down to” is a nice straw man to knock over so you can dismiss its detractors based on a conjured motivation for their claims. Lastly:

    The slam on “the rest of the liberally biased media” is an ugly and inaccurate attack that is factually wrong.

    Unfortunately for your claim, the fact of the matter is that the news media routinely votes 80-90% Democrat, and if the situation warrants it, I can provide quotes from officials at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and numerous other sources confirming the elephant in this particular room.

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Sagewing: Actually, the mention of Huffington’s joke about Fox was to report on what was likely the biggest laugh line of any keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo — and that’s what I was sent there to do: report what went on.

    The gist of Huffington’s message during her conversation with O’Reilly was that two main things contributed to the site’s success, passion and community. I think the ability to hire a group of talented editors (whose headline writing ability it top-notch) and her ability to convince celebrities to use her site has a soapbox has also helped, but she didn’t mention those things.

    As for discussing Huffington Post on SitePoint… I think it is perfectly relevant. Successful political sites can offer valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and web developers. There is value is looking at what makes Huff, Kos, Drudge, and others successful, as well as looking at the successful web campaigns of politicians like Barack Obama and Ron Paul.

  • http://www.sagewing.com Sagewing

    Josh – Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your position and your points above are fair, but after years of ‘no politics’ on Sitepoint and during an election it’s just hard to believe that there wasn’t some editorial swing on the decision to write this article in particular. Actually, it seems that the online success of the Obama campaign has more demographic and technological relevance that could be discussed then the Huffington efforts do.

    Certainly there is value in looking at these successes, but it’s hard to understand how this article wasn’t considered a departure from Sitepoint’s ordinary topics and a controversial one at that.

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Sagewing: The blow off response here would be to point out that the “no politics” rule was really a forum rule — it never informed SitePoint’s editorial policy. ;) But… I understand where you’re coming from. Having worked at a political site in the past I know first hand how quickly comments on politics blogging can devolve into the sort of useless flame wars that SitePoint has always worked hard to avoid.

    So, I’ll just comment on the decision to write this article: it was my own, wholly and completely. What swayed me to write it was simply that sitting in the keynote hall Huffington’s conversation with Tim O’Reilly struck me as the most interesting and relevant of the day (actually, that’s not true — Irene Grief (sp?) from IBM had the most interesting keynote, but I didn’t think there was a post to be had in it). Huffington’s was also the most reacted to by the audience there (generally positive — though we were in New York).

    On a personal note, though my own politics tend toward the liberal side of things, it wasn’t politics that informed my decision to write about Arianna Huffington’s appearance at the Expo. And I actually find Drudge’s operation far more interesting in terms how and why it is successful. You can bet if Matt Drudge had come out of hiding to give a keynote about what makes the Drudge Report tick, I’d have written about it. ;)

  • http://www.sagewing.com Sagewing

    That is a fair response. I don’t want to contribute to any bickering so I guess we’ll leave it at that!

  • Robert

    Josh:

    With all due respect you didn’t have to say this…

    “On a personal note, though my own politics tend toward the liberal side of things…”

    I think we all figured that out are are own.

    Peace brother!

  • http://www.mockriot.com/ Josh Catone

    @Robert: Probably … but based on things I have written in the past (either here or at ReadWriteWeb — or when a quick web search might reveal that I used to write for a left-leaning political site). But I honestly don’t think you could fairly infer anything from this article.

    The only part of the article that touches on politics is this:

    Huffington drew some big laughs when O’Reilly said that he thought she had a lot in common with News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, because they both seek use news as a vehicle to shape the way people think. “Huge difference,” said Huffington to a round of applause, “we want to shape the debate based on facts.”

    Nothing in that hints at my political views — that’s simply the facts of what happened at the event. She did get big laughs and a round of applause (one of the largest of the convention in my opinion). That’s just reporting, not editorial. :)

  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    Thanks for giving an intelligent rubuttal. I’m breathing fine again, and my blood pressure is back down.

    :)

    What a tragically flawed and bizarre analysis of Huffington’s success as it relates to the web industry and web technologies. Her success is built on pandering to the radical liberal smear machine, and the growth of her group is more based on popularism than any good business or technology practices.

    Not only is this a hateful observation, it is demonstrably wrong. Whether you like Huffington’s politics or not, it is indisputable that the blog has shown the rest of the blogging world how to do what it does. (And what’s wrong with popularism? Are you saying that a popular site must necessarily be a bad site–unless, I suppose, it agrees with your views?) As for the “radical liberal smear machine,” I dispute that contention absolutely. It does not exist. The bugaboo of it has existed for years, even after such conservatives as William Kristol have admitted that the so-called “liberal media” doesn’t in fact exist. Makes for a nice straw man to bleat about.

    The mention of Huffington’s desire to be more factual is essentially adding a bickering and debating point to the discussion that removes any chance of a relevant message coming from this article (let alone a discussion).

    “Relevant” as in, “I agree with its politics.” Sorry, but you’ve shot yourself in the foot already.

    Frankly I am surprised that such an [obviously] politically slanted organization would even be discussed on Sitepoint. Was it not obvious that the comments would quickly start referencing Fox and Air America? Is it not fair to say that the author is almost certainly swayed by the content of Huffington’s blathering more than he is impressed by her cutting-edge understanding of web technologies?

    Again, to dismiss legitimate political viewpoints as “blathering” merely shows how unable you are to divorce your political views from your technological critiquing. I will agree with one thing: neither Fox News nor Air America do a particularly good job in running their own blogs.

    You must have been on vacation the time they posted a picture of Joe Lieberman photoshopped with blackface.

    No, I didn’t see it, and I would have howled about it had I laid eyes on it. It was a bad decision by both the diarist and Huffington to allow such garbage to lower the level of discourse. But I disagree with your “one of countless examples” line. You found one, and doubtless there are a few others. But if you allow for the rather “liberal” use of profanity, you won’t find that many truly offensive comments and diaries on Huffington. I can attest to just how difficult it is to moderate a strong, opinionated community. Unless you almost smother commentary with Draconian moderation, you are inevitably going to have some ugly commentary and even posts creep in. Again, I offer the blatant, over-the-top racism, sexism, and other complete slime from the Free Republic as a counter to anything you can find on Huffington or any other liberal blog with any real audience. (If you find some babbling idiot posting hate rants on a pro-Obama blog with five regular commenters, don’t bother posting it. I know they’re out there. I stay away from them.)

    Unfortunately for your claim, the fact of the matter is that the news media routinely votes 80-90% Democrat, and if the situation warrants it, I can provide quotes from officials at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and numerous other sources confirming the elephant in this particular room.

    I’ve followed this argument for years, and frankly, no you can’t.

    There is value is looking at what makes Huff, Kos, Drudge, and others successful, as well as looking at the successful web campaigns of politicians like Barack Obama and Ron Paul.

    Josh, you’re right. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Drudge allows comments on his material. He may have a separate blog, but I don’t think so. I pointed out in my first comment that many (not all) conservative blogs either disallow comments entirely, or so heavily moderate commentary that even the most polite dissent is deleted and its perpetrators banned. Ron Paul is a terrific Internet phenomonon deserving of exploration. I disagree with his politics on almost every level, but I acknowledge that what he’s done is amazing.

    Nothing in that hints at my political views — that’s simply the facts of what happened at the event.

    Again, true. The assumption is (apparently) that because you wrote approvingly of a liberal political blog, you must by default support it, and therefore you’re involved in some sort of liberal conspiracy:

    it’s just hard to believe that there wasn’t some editorial swing on the decision to write this article in particular

    My own experience on Sitepoint has been very accepting. I regularly post on the design and coding forums, and have often asked for advice on my former site, which was frankly and unapologetically liberal (though as fact-based as I could make it). I got wonderful advice and assistance from people I knew to be deep-dyed conservatives, without any reference to the political content. Hopefully I’ve been able to pay those favors forward a bit, to SP community members of whatever political stripe. I don’t think Josh was trying to inject partisan politics into the SP discussion on any level. Had the first few posters not reacted as harshly (and as predictably) as they did, I would never have commented on the politics of Huffington. Josh’s column was never about that. Unfortunately, some conservatives (and liberals) cannot divorce their partisan politics from any other issue. Huffington does what it does very, very well, and has risen in just a few years to be one of the most pre-eminent political blogs in existence. That phenomenon deserves examination regardless of political ideology.

  • magicanswers

    It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the content of her site. What matters is that she has become an 800 pound gorilla in the blogosphere in 3 years.

    I don’t personally read her blog very often. But I definitely see her as a role model when it comes to building a blog empire in record time.

    Cheers.

  • Stephen

    Not only is this a hateful observation, it is demonstrably wrong.

    It’s hateful to say she’s pandering to a combustible segment of the population? Or to say that her success is based on popularism? Are you sure you’re not just victimizing her based on something you’re reading INTO this observation?

    The bugaboo of it has existed for years, even after such conservatives as William Kristol have admitted that the so-called “liberal media” doesn’t in fact exist.

    You might want to revisit just how strongly this point is “proven”. Kristol’s recent article in the Weekly Standard, published yesterday, uses the term “liberal media” three times in the first two paragraphs. Can you blame me for questioning how all of my quotes acknowledging media bias are magically wrong and all of your quotes denying it are magically right?

    But if you allow for the rather “liberal” use of profanity, you won’t find that many truly offensive comments and diaries on Huffington.

    That’s a nice qualifier: so long as we say it’s okay for people to refer to politicians in some of the worst possible terms, substitute their names and their parties’ names with mockeries, accuse them of essentially attempting to destroy the entire world so they can make five more bucks (intentionally dramatic for the sake of brevity), and so forth, then there’s not really that much on the site that’s REALLY offensive. If you’re content to lower your standards to the current status quo of the political climate, or suggest that Huffington is only playing by the rules as written, that’s your prerogative, but I still find such permissiveness to be exactly the reason that it’s absurd to suggest they are holding a high standard of publication and/or conduct.

    Again, I offer the blatant, over-the-top racism, sexism, and other complete slime from the Free Republic as a counter to anything you can find on Huffington or any other liberal blog with any real audience.

    You can if you’d like, but I’ve never promoted that site or any other as a model for discourse. The difference is that I think the political climate is far too toxic in both directions, and prefer to see both sides raise their standards, rather than toss out the “he did it too” excuse, which I consider a skirt of the issue, and entirely unproductive.

    FWIW, I went ahead and visited the Free Republic and found the following headlines on their front page: Methane is escaping from an Arctic sea bed. Thomas Sowell opining about the ultimate cost of the federal bailout. A copy of Rush Limbaugh’s show notes. A link to a “5-reader blog” as you put it. An accident on a sub. The Treasury wants foreign help with the bailout. Libertarians lost their suit in Texas. The first non-sourced article I found was from a McCain canvasser asking why the people he was calling seemed uninterested in talking to him. The site had little enough information to dissuade me from a quick return, but I had a hard time finding the racism sexism and other bile and such that you claimed was preeminent on their site. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place or something.

    I held off on bringing up Kos, but since the author mentioned him, I should note that his site posted not one but numerous articles questioning the paternity of Sarah Palin’s grandchild and even demanding paternity testing. I find that to be extremely offensive but again, I could just be less permissive.

    I’ve followed this argument for years, and frankly, no you can’t.

    I can read, and yes I can. Can this method of discussion possibly lead us forward?

    The bottom, unassailable line is that the “based on the facts” is a canard, and the real basis of success is “based on sensationalism that drums up a passionate crowd”. There shouldn’t be any shame in that, sensationalism sells in ALL forms of media. Just most of them don’t try to wrap it in The Truth ™.

  • http://www.sagewing.com Sagewing

    Maybe we can seque into an old fashioned Mac vs. PC debate just to lighten up the thread!

  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    Kristol’s recent article in the Weekly Standard, published yesterday, uses the term “liberal media” three times in the first two paragraphs. Can you blame me for questioning how all of my quotes acknowledging media bias are magically wrong and all of your quotes denying it are magically right?

    Former RNC chair Rich Bond: “There is some strategy to it [bashing the 'liberal' media]…. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.” Former Sec of State James Baker: “There were days and times and events we might have had some complaints [but] on balance I don’t think we had anything to complain about.” Former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan: “I’ve gotten balanced coverage, and broad coverage–all we could have asked. For heaven sakes, we kid about the ‘liberal media,’ but every Republican on earth does that.” William Kristol: “I admit it. The liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.”

    If you’re content to lower your standards to the current status quo of the political climate, or suggest that Huffington is only playing by the rules as written, that’s your prerogative, but I still find such permissiveness to be exactly the reason that it’s absurd to suggest they are holding a high standard of publication and/or conduct.

    Standards differ. I am not offended by most uses of profanity. I am offended by racial, sexual, ethnic, and religious slurs. On the rare occasions that I have seen them used on Huffington, I have seen them challenged. I see a big difference between saying that, for example, Bush is a traitor who wants to sell the US down the river to his corporate buddies, and laughing over the image of Hillary Clinton being gang-raped.

    The Free Republic is notorious for allowing such hate rants as I cited, then scrubbing them from their site and asserting that they never existed.

    I held off on bringing up Kos, but since the author mentioned him, I should note that his site posted not one but numerous articles questioning the paternity of Sarah Palin’s grandchild and even demanding paternity testing. I find that to be extremely offensive but again, I could just be less permissive.

    Since I post somewhat more frequently on the Kos than anywhere else (surprise!), I can speak more authoritatively to this. Yes, there were numerous articles about Sarah Palin’s grandchild and so forth. Without exception, they were posted by people who had appeared from nowhere, posted these offensive diaries, and disappeared. The community’s reaction was very, very strong and very, very negative, with blistering (and sometimes profanity-laced) demands that the diaries in question be deleted and the author(s) banned. Many felt that some of those diaries were posted by conservative “trolls” putting such diaries up in order to make the Kos look bad, but as far as I know, no conclusive proof of such was ever secured.

    I can read, and yes I can. Can this method of discussion possibly lead us forward?

    It’s been flatly disproven. You are free to continue asserting the truth of your stance. I don’t think SP is the venue to continue this particular discussion. You are free to contact me for further info on the matter.

    Maybe we can seque into an old fashioned Mac vs. PC debate just to lighten up the thread!

    Sagewing is correct. This discussion is veering far, far away from what SP covers. It’s an old and reprehensible trick to make a long argument and then declare the issue closed for whatever reason, so I won’t say “we should stop this now” and therefore give myself the last word. Please, Stephen or anyone else, feel free to rebut and retort as you like. But I’ve made the points I think I needed to make (beat them into the ground, more like it…), so I will not comment further.

    And for the record, I use PCs but wish with every little scrap of heart I have left that I had gone with Macs.

  • Stephen

    I’m going to quote this first bit out of order because it’s its own rabbit trail and I’d prefer to drift on topic rather than off:

    It’s been flatly disproven.

    Apparently you haven’t picked up the hint yet that the strength of your insistence or lack of qualifiers does not make the assertion any more correct. The quotes you provided certainly did not add one iota of truth to the statement; even Kristol’s own statement uses the exact term “liberal media” which strongly dissuades me from believing he thinks there is no such thing.

    The Free Republic is notorious for allowing such hate rants as I cited, then scrubbing them from their site and asserting that they never existed.

    I do not discount that from the realm of possibility, as I have repeatedly seen Michael Moore make a number of outrageous claims and then delete his material when it is demonstrated to be patently false, to the point where some people no longer link to his material, but to cached pages showing what was present at the time of printing. However, couldn’t one draw a parallel between the purging of these articles from FR et al and the purging of like articles from Kos et al?

    But again, I find myself at a disadvantage because you insist on equating FR and HP as counterparts for their political views, despite being the only one on the thread intent on putting the Freepers to such lofty heights. It’s apples and oranges, and the left is to the blogosphere as the right is to talk radio punditry, there’s a severe imbalance in talent, success and receivership. Isn’t that the whole point of this article, that HP is achieving a level of success that doesn’t really have an equivalent among blogs?

    If I were to say to you that Rush Limbaugh’s success was the result of shaping the debate around the facts, you’d probably take exception to that. If I were to say that it’s because of a combination of slick production values, broad marketing and a whole lot of sensationalism, you’d probably agree. Does that give you no pause at all to consider what I’m saying? Am I supposed to read your suggestion that “your guys” are the arbiters of truth and ingenuous to a fault, and “my guys” spew only hateful comments for lack of anything intelligent to say, and that is the more reasonable view of people’s thoughts and motives? Really?

    The one part of this article to which I take exception is her suggestion that they are shaping the debate based on facts. Half the truth is still a lie to me, and until either side is willing to stretch themselves beyond only the half they care about, The Truth ™ is a laughable place to hang one’s hat in the political arena.

    Meanwhile, the rest of her comments and the author’s article framing them paint a broader and more compelling picture. The keyword in the headline is “passion” and that is wear they hit the nail on the head. The sensationalist nature of political punditry got a segment of the population engaged in their work. The second part of the success stew is their persistence, the fact that the people whom they brought on board with their direction also had the commitment to see it through. For most people, that combination of passion and commitment (which are separate issues from the debate about facts) are enough to provide modest success.

    The third pillar IMO is design. HP is dynamic, vibrant and eye-grabbing; it makes good use of a number of 2.0 principles. I would not say this is inherently necessary; craigslist is about as bland as a website is ever going to be, and Drudge has built his success off scooping the mass media and making the rest of his site little more than a news aggregate. It worked largely because aggregate tools didn’t exist then in the way they do today. But 9 times out of 10, dynamic beats bland, especially in a world where the market is saturated with people using a lot of default settings and skins on their WordPress and Movable Type.

    A fourth attribute specific to HP is that they moved beyond their original demographic. They could have been strictly a politically-driven blog and enjoyed moderate success, but by having a wide variety of news, they give readers a reason to come beyond just reading the latest diatribe and saying “lol Repugnants”. Having more than one reason to hit a site results in longer stays and more visits. See also: google.

    Then there’s the golden egg she completely neglected to mention (as far as the article is concerned): a crapload of venture capital…