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Ed Driscoll

Arianna Online: AOL buys Huffington Post for $315 million

February 7th, 2011 - 10:55 am

At the Tatler, Bryan Preston asks “Will Huffington Post have to follow the ‘AOL way?’” But it sounds like just the reverse; former AOL partner CNN reports that apparently the keys to AOL have been handed to Arianna:

AOL has agreed to purchase The Huffington Post for $315 million, the two entities announced in a joint news release Monday.

“As part of the transaction, Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post’s co-founder and editor-in-chief, will be named president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will include all Huffington Post and AOL content,” the statement said.

The new group will have a combined 117 million unique visitors a month in the United States and 270 million around the world, according to the release, which cited December 2010 data from the marketing research company comScore.

Ed Morrissey writes, “The editorial arrangement seems like a strange decision.” As he and Allahpundit like to say at Hot Air, what could go wrong?

AOL has been careful to give the impression of political balance in their news and opinion offerings on line.  Putting a political activist like Arianna Huffington in charge of all AOL content will upend that balance, and might have a significant number of subscribers and readers heading for the door. The end result might be less a combination of the two readerships and more of a replacement of AOL’s community with that of the HuffPo.

Another strange decision, related to the first, is to rebrand AOL’s content with the Huffington label.  Arianna has done a great job over the last few years in building her brand in the blogosphere, but AOL has one of the oldest and most widely known brands in computing.  Perhaps renaming the content group with the Huffington label was an attempt to keep the partisan direction of HuffPo from damaging AOL’s brand, but if the content shifts under Arianna’s leadership, that won’t help at all.

“What would AOL have paid for the Drudge Report, which throws so much traffic it can melt down your servers,” Stacy McCain asks.  I think the answer can be found indirectly at the Daily Caller, where Herman Cain writes, “Liberalism is not in America’s DNA,” — but it’s certainly in much of the media’s. But hey, the dot.com bubble is back yet again.

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