The Media Oxpecker: The Week HuffPo Became Self-Aware

Every Friday we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed while you were busy praying the gay away.

If the Huffington Post had hoped to earn itself some journo cred by indefinitely suspending one its writers for “repackaging” a piece by Simon Dumenco of Ad Age, the move had the exact opposite effect.

As everyone was quick to point out, wasn’t the young HuffPo writer just doing what she was taught to do? Take it away, Choire:

This is along the lines of arresting hookers instead of johns, or drug users instead of drug importers, or something. The writer, who seems to be Yale class of (something fairly recent), Amy Lee, was doing pretty much what she’d been trained to do, either overtly or covertly, and she took the fall for the HuffPo, which is so obviously baloney. Isn’t it bad enough that she has a terrible job, writing up news blurbs that no one reads[?]

As a “livid” former HuffPo employee explained to Gawker:

That is what we were taught and told to do at HuffPost. Arianna and the higher ups made a decision to stop linking out directly as much and rewrite stories “the way the AP does.” They even hired people specifically to rewrite other people’s work. Whenever they get caught they just blame an underling. These poor kids right out of school who have no experience get told to do XY and Z and then get punished for doing it.

Erik Wemple — now settled into his new digs at the Washington Postwondered whether there might be an internal conflict between “old media” and “new media” cultures going on at HuffPo, pointing out that the editor who responded to Dumenco, Peter Goodman, is a veteran of the New York Times and Washington Post.

“So did Goodman go all maverick here, firing off a memo and forcing the Huffington Post brass to embrace his hard line on linking?” Wemple asks.

Then Dumenco, the man whose complaint started it all, jumped back into the fray and wrote an open letter to HuffPo, thanking Goodman for apologizing but asking that he also apologize to the writer that was suspended.

Moving on:

  • With the launch of Google+, The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal reevaluates Twitter and predicts that the two social networks will be differentiated by the length, and depth, of the conversations between users. While some observers describe Twitter as a discussion forum, Madrigal likens it to “a high-speed idea and person connecting machine”:

    But Twitter isn’t good at conversation, per se. Twitter is good at call and response, or what I’ll call “an idea barter.” Interactions on Twitter often take the form of quid pro quo. You quip, I quip back. You post a link, I post an answering link. You ask a question, I respond. You call, I respond. But it’s not really a “conversation” as anyone has ever understood that word.

  • The Newspaper Association of America touted figures showing a 2 percent uptick in visitors to newspaper websites in the 2nd quarter of 2011. But Poynter’s Steve Myers says the numbers also show a decrease from April to June, which he says highlights “the difficulty of holding on to audience after a major news event such as bin Laden’s death.”
  • Editors worried about setting their writers and interns loose on the paper’s official Twitter account might want to take a look at this post with some best practices for correcting social media errors, one of which is to notify anyone who has retweeted your erroneous tweet.
  • Speaking of social media best practices, here are some useful tips for engaging your readers on Facebook. Some familiar refrains come up, such as the usefulness of including photos with your links and the need to post throughout the day (as opposed to throwing all your stories on there at once) and late in the week, especially on weekends. Saturday and Sunday posts typically receive the most feedback and clickthroughs.

    And this week the New York Times completed a study on “The Psychology of Sharing,” which focused on the motivations behind why people share certain stories online and guidelines for publications seeking to get their content shared.

  • Here’s an excellent visual guide to making homemade infographics.
  • A recent study found that internet and search engine usage rewires our brains and affects memory.
  • A study by Accenture says that the media industry is “ill-prepared to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital distribution of content.”
  • Foursquare is partnering with LivingSocial with the goal of offering targeted daily deals based on user location data, including where a users’ friends are checking in. The company is also working on a similar deal with Groupon.
  • Before you buy that Groupon (which you would NEVER do anyway? Right??), you might want to browse the site The Bad Deal, which tracks the daily deal sites for deals that aren’t really good deals at all.
  • Meanwhile, Wall Street investment banks are falling over each other to get a piece of Groupon’s IPO, which is expected to raise up to $3 billion.
  • will meet its demise on July 19 and will begin redirecting users to the Daily Beast site.
  • The Washington Post is putting QR codes (aka: hey, that’s cool and gimmicky, but how can we actually use those in our paper?) into action, allowing readers to share stories from the print edition by scanning the code with their phone.

  • Who’s using those phones (and what type of phone is being used) depends on, unsurprisingly, factors such as age, race/ethnicity, and income level, says a Pew study. The study found that 25 percent of smartphone users use their phone as their primary way of accessing the internet.
  • A recent study found that internet and search engine usage rewires our brains and affects memory.
  • The Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, announced plans for a first-of-its-kind program to sell discounted Android tablets with built-in content.
  • And we’ll close out the week with a link to Jonathan Rauch embarrassing himself by spewing outdated notions about blogging. Can we please stop with the idea that print has a monopoly on “quaint notions of fairness and accuracy”? It reeks of the same “self-congratulatory smugness” that Rauch accuses the internet of being guilty of.

  • Housekeeping note: The Media Oxpecker column will take a hiatus during next week’s AAN Convention in New Orleans, and will return on July 29.