We aren’t in Kansas anymore. Or, at least journalists aren’t, said Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington, who spoke to a packed Mondavi Center Friday evening.
Huffington predicts the future of journalism will be a hybrid of the best of the old and new journalism: a combination of fact checking and journalistic reporting with the immediacy and interactivity of online journalism.
The speech highlighted the importance of social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, to news today.
Though CNN and other media outlets were banned from Iran during the upheaval of the summer 2009 presidential election, the government of Iran could not control the thousands of Twitter and Facebook feeds – feeds that leaked the majority of the information about the resulting protests.
“You can’t use an analog map to find your way in a digital world,” Huffington remarked about the necessity of using new media.
The speech also touched upon her disappointment with the media’s obsession with trivial news stories. Huffington sees altruism, what she calls “the fourth sense,” as the solution to overcoming the media’s weakness.
Stories like the “balloon boy,” whose real name is Falcon Heene, should be replaced by stories about the thousands of impoverished children in the United States, she said.
In a 25 minute question and answer session with the audience immediately following the event, an audience member shared his experience as a blogger for the Post.
“I would like to thank you for providing me the opportunity to express myself at a time when the Huffington Post was the only outlet to do so,” said Joseph Palermo, a professor at Sacramento State who was recently furloughed. Palermo uses his blog on the Post to voice his frustrations with the economic crisis.
The popular site seeks to become the eyes and ears of the nation, as contributors like Palermo blog about personal effects of the economic crisis such as layoffs and furloughs.
Last Monday, the Post launched a section dedicated to college news, with the leading story titled “Majoring in Debt.” University papers across the nation, including The California Aggie, are teaming up with the Post to give college students the expression they may lack in mainstream media.
“I thought it was an interesting speech, but I don’t think anything she said was particularly insightful,” said Jeremy Botherwa, an Australian exchange student at UC Davis. “I felt like she talked just for the applause. It was something you hear all the time.”
After the event, Huffington sat down with Aggie reporters to discuss the UC fee increases.
“[The cuts] are really unfortunate. I understand that the state is broke, but education shouldn’t be made less accessible,” Huffington said. “Ultimately, it is the state that is responsible for making the cuts.”
The Huffington Post, a news and blog site launched in 2005 is one of the most widely read online media outlets. Huffington, a native of Greece and candidate for Governor of California in 2003, was named one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine in 2006, and one of the most influential women in media by Forbes in 2009.
ERICA LEE contributed to this article. GABRIELLE GROW can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.