With founders Arianna Huffington and Jim Lehrer pocketing $315m between them, after the buyout from AOL last night, people are suddenly interested again in the possibility of making money from blogs.
The liberal political Huffington Post with its emphasis on aggregated news, comment and celebrity bloggers has established itself very quickly since its foundation in 2003.
With that much success and with that much money washing around – why is there no British Huffington Post? Why in our media-obsessed nation has no-one made one?
Well, lets drill down to a couple of the reasons:
1) There isn’t *that* much money washing around. There are lots of blogs out there – only one has been bought for $315million.
2) Coverage of a broad range of general news is slimmer pickin’s now than it was in 2003, now that all the mainstream media big boys have got in on it too – now the New York Times does it, the Guardian and Telegraph do it, the Daily Mail and the BBC do it. It’s hard for a start-up to compete with these established players and their newsroom resources. It’s easier to get an audience by specialising – interior design, technology.
3) The UK is a smaller market than the USA – a population of 60million compared to a population of 360million means that your maximum potential readership of a UK story is always going to be approx 6x smaller than that of a US story.
4) The US was ripe for a general national news site – apart from the fine and serious voices of the New York Times and the Washington Post – there wasn’t really a national paper except for the US Today. The HuffPo filed that space (for left-leaning liberals anyway).
In the much busier, shoutier UK news space, it’s harder to make an impact with wise comment pieces and even the sassy grabby headlines that the HuffPo is famous for, don’t make that much of an impact on our society brought up with GOTCHA headlines on tabloids.
5) The HuffPo’s voice is distinctive – the content may not be distinctive – it’s general news stuff, but the voice is. It’s liberal, wise-cracking but kind of wholesome America. It’s a clear brand.
6) Maybe no-one’s done one yet that’s good enough.Because let’s face it, the HuffPo is good. Any takers?