Thursday, August 14, 2008

Huffington Post Expands to Chicago

My feelings towards the Huffington Post are more envy than awe. I am impressed by the professional images that they use and their "quick read" function that more blogs (and websites in general) should pursue, but I hate its liberal bias. The publication has an impressive reach and those behind it (principally Arriana Huffington) made an early commitment to make it successful, and by most measures they have achieved just that.

Now, the Huffington Post is expanding to Chicago and the biting commentary that is well known nationally will have a local appeal in the country's third largest city. The air in the windy city has just gotten a little hotter.

The Huffington Post is a liberal darling, getting articles from the Hollywood elite and major politicians. The questions is, what role will the Chicago version fill? Historically, major national newspapers have created their own place in the national media Real Estate. In Chicago, the Tribune and Sun Times are very will known for talking about national issues. Is the local Huffington Post going to defer to the national site or is it going to give a uniquely Chicago view on what is going on around the country and around the world?

Is the new Post only going to discuss new businesses in Chicago, local crime, and the people running for mayor? If so, it stands in serious danger of being very boring. The online version of a community newspaper -- unless you are actually in it, you are not going to be very interested. On the other hand, if it becomes the Chicago voice on national issues, I believe the national publication will become redundant in the eyes of most readers. Sure, the site will keep local features that readers can navigate to find out what is going in the city, but I think they will find the two front pages (national and Chicago) quite confusing due to their similarity.

I believe the logical thing for the Huffington Post to do for over coming this probable confusion, is to make the national site a New York, New York site. Like the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and (of course) The New York Times, the "new" New York Huffington Post would provide a local spin to national news. It is just a thought.

I am also curious about the economics of the new website. It is being described as a "franchise." Typically, that means someone pays a corporation a significant amount of money to be able to use the name and benefit from a marketing system created by the parent company. I don't know if that is literally the case here or if those involve do not have a better way to describe the relationship between the two sites, but it would be a very interesting model if they mean a traditional franchise.

The work to date on at the Huffington Post indicates that the model is working. It will be interesting to see if the changes going on with the site keeps it that way.

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Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huffington is very strange. I'm surprised you are spending time on her site or her.

10:17 PM  

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