Arianna Huffington – Brave New World of New Media

ahLast week Arianna Huffington visited Toronto as part of Advertising Week.  As the Founder and creative force behind the popular Huffington Post, Arianna was in a unique position to offer insight into a hybrid future for media: One where digital media’s openess and transparency is coupled with legacy media’s professionalism and integrity.  

Arianna began her presentation with a powerful quote, “The information superhighway is a busy thoroughfare and there’s going to be some road kill along the way. But only among those who insist on merging into traffic riding a horse and buggy.”

Arianna broke her talk down into three distinct parts:

  1. Media
  2. Politics
  3. Daily Life

Her are some of the more interesting take-aways from her talk:

MEDIA

  1. Content will follow the user via mobile apps and the mobile web.
  2. Arianna quoted Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, “Trust is the new black.”
  3. Legacy media needs to embrace digital media as a source of information.  Traditional media totally missed Iraq and the issue of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ as well as the current financial meltdown.  However, today, anybody can write about anything they want on blogs, Twitter, and other social media sites.
  4. Pay walls – They have been tried before and have not worked. “You cannot enter the same river twice.”

POLITICS

  1. Internet is shaking things up.  The viral nature of news and technology affects politics in a very real way.
  2. “Using an analog map in a digital world is useless.”
  3. There is a fundamental disconnect between real stories that matter and sensationalism.  Arianna cites the ‘Baloon Boy’ story as an example of sensationalism while the story of 1 million homeless kids in America continues to be largely untold.

DAILY LIFE

  1. With the advent of the citizen journalist, news has become social and conversations about news and politics has moved away from the elite to include everyone.
  2. People don’t just want to consume news but they want to participate in the news.
  3. Arianna quoted entertainer and social advocate Will.i.am who has made the distinction between the way people consume traditional media — sitting on the couch — and the way people take in new media as if galloping on a horse… riding along the Internet countryside like a latter-day Paul Revere.
  4. Dichotomy between China shutting down the Internet to quiet dissenters with reformers in Iran using the Internet to tell their supporters and the world about their rage after their national elections.

Arianna began to close her presentation by asking a question that is asked by many media traditionalists: Why do people participate in social media for ‘no money’?  Her answer: “Self-expression is the new form of entertainment.”  Which is curious, she continued, because no one ever questioned why people sat in front of the TV to ‘veg-out’ to entertain themselves.  She continued to caution editors to go through information properly rather than trying to break a story first.  This is an interesting observation given Toronto’s recent spat between sleeping TTC employees and citizen journalists.

If you’d like to hear Arianna’s full presentation including the Q&A, please feel free to click on the link below:

http://www.mediafire.com/?odynvzywrmu