Want to royally piss millions of people off? Mess with their daily media routine.
Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington are finding that out the hard way this morning as news that tech/media company AOL has agreed to purchase news blog service The Huffington Post for $315 million makes its way around the Internet. Reactions are pouring in from users on both sides, and no one seems very happy about the merger.
Huffington Post users are crabbing that Arianna H. sold out to a conservative media outlet that will limit the progressive voice that makes HuffPo so well-known. AOL users are worried that content with Arianna at the helm will be way too liberal.
Only time will tell if any of these concerns are actually valid. But in the meantime, the rabid reactions are understandable: Whether it's logging in to AOL or pulling up the HuffPo home page, the routine by which people access news each day is sacred. You certainly can't expect people to embrace change without a fight.
You know how people get all bent out of shape when Facebook does a redesign of the profile pages? Such is the state of affairs with the AOL/Huffington Post merger. Will AOL users be forced to read Sarah Palin tirades day in and day out? Will Huffington Post users have to acquire a AOL email address in order to post comments?Anxiety runs high this morning as the two disparate worlds collide.
I've been critical in the past of AOL's consistent focus on its own content versus community-driven content. I'm hopeful that AOL will see the value of the user contributions and banter on HuffPo and integrate it into its new content instead of ignoring it altogether. The way I see it, this acquisition -- with Arianna Huffington in control of all AOL's editorial operations -- could jump-start conversation and participation from users on the AOL side and potentially could be a good thing. At the very least, it'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds ...
And, anyway, by the time any significant changes occur to either of these sites, we'll likely have moved on to the next news "shocking" thing.
What do you think about AOL buying the Huffington Post?
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