Campaign Coverage on HuffingtonPost.com

Campaign Coverage on HuffingtonPost.com
In September of this year, I started using HuffingtonPost.com as a source for information about the 2008 presidential campaign - Campaign Coverage on HuffingtonPost.com introduction. HuffingtonPost.com, or HuffPo, as it is referred to in posts by readers, is a mixture of a political news portal and a blog. The Huffington Post refers to itself as “the Internet’s newspaper”. The site is hosted by Arianna Huffington, a best selling author and political commentator who has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and other networks . Huffington Post has an extremely liberal political bias which it makes no attempt to hide. This openness gives the Huffington Post more credibility than the website would have if it pretended to be an unbiased presentation of the news. Huffington Post is updated daily, often several times a day, as news breaks or as stories develop.

I started reading Huffington Post because I found it informative and entertaining. Like all news portals, Huffington Post links to stories from a variety of sources, most of which are consistent with the editorial position of Arianna Huffington and the other writers on the website. For example, there are usually links to stories in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, and other publications that tend to be to the left of America’s political center. Huffington Post also avoids linking to sources that are inconsistent with its editorial positions. It would be very unusual, for example, to find a link to a story from The Wall Street Journal,  Fox News, or the Drudge Report. However, the editors Huffington Post will occasionally link to these or to other “conservative” news sources if the story illustrates some point that is consistent with the perspective of the Huffington Post.

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More Essay Examples on Elections Rubric

The Huffington Post has several contributors who write regular opinion columns. These writers include writers who contribute to magazines, newspapers, or to other publications. Huffington Post also includes columns that are written by comedians, actors, and other people whose opinions might not be published in other news sources but that are often interesting and insightful. In addition to these columnists, Huffington Post also publishes comments from readers. These reader comments create the feeling of a real community of people who share similar ideas and philosophies. Some of the reader comments can be entertaining. Other comments show extreme political views that are either for or against a particular topic. An especially interesting column might generate several hundred or even thousands of responses with some very heated and informative discussions.

Readership
Huffington Post has a monthly readership of 12.3 million people (Quantcast). These are unique visitors that are tracked by cookies that are used on the website. Based on its content and its presentation, it seems that the target market for Huffington Post is politically active people in their late twenties to early fifties. As a college student, I am probably not part of the target demographic of this website. According to Quantcast, a site that evaluates traffic to Internet websites, the readership of Huffington Post is 61% male and 39% female. Twenty percent of readers are between the ages of 18 – 34; 41% are between the ages of 35 and 49; and 38% are over age 50. Almost all Huffington Post readers (91%) are Caucasian and only 4% are Black. Almost half (47%) of Huffington Post readers are college graduates and 27% have a Master’s degree (Quantcast). According to Quantcast, Hufffington Post attracts a more affluent audience than most other websites.

Ownership
Huffington Post is owned by Arianna Huffington, a private citizen, who launched the website in 2005. Arianna Huffington was able to use her position as a political commentator on network news programs to promote her website. Huffington Post earns money by running ads from a variety of sponsors, including political ads that are placed by candidates and other political groups. The ads are consistent with the editorial positions of Huffington Post. This may be because the editors have decided not to sell ads to advertisers who do not share their political views, or it may be because those advertisers do not consider the Huffington Post to be an effective form of advertising for their target demographic.

The Huffington Post is an independent, privately owned news source. It has no direct link to any other news or entertainment organization. It does, however, appear to have relationships with several other organizations. There is a large section of links to other websites that appears on the front page of Huffington Post. Most of these sites share a similar political perspective as Huffington Post. Other sites, including Drudge Report, Fox News, and others, have a very different political perspective. These links are probably included as part of an agreement for these sites to link back to Huffington Post as part of an informal network of websites.

Presentation of election coverage
On most days, the headline story on he homepage is about one of the candidates or some other topic that is related to the election. At the top of the homepage are several links to separate sections of the website, including a link called “politics”. The politics section includes more political stories. For especially important stories, the Huffington Post editors will create a “big page” that includes all of the stories and related links about that topic. For example, there was a “big page” about the bank bailout and another “big page” about each of the debates. These pages are usually kept for a week or so, or until the story begins to fade. Stories that are no longer current are archived and may be read after they are taken off the front page or the political page.

As I noted before, Huffington Post is unapologetically biased towards the Democratic candidate and what it refers to as a “progressive” political agenda. While the news stories may present the facts about a particular event or story, those facts are presented in a way that is consistent with the site’s political perspective. This does not mean, however, that Huffington Post only presents positive stories about Barack Obama and negative stories about John McCain. Columns and reader comments have been written criticizing various positions that Obama has taken during the campaign. These stories were especially noticeable in September, when there was still a large number of readers who were supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Issues most commonly covered
Huffington Post has addressed several issues in this campaign. In September, the site seemed to focus on the role of race and gender in the campaign. That issue has since faded somewhat, although it still comes up in references to the Bradley effect (the theory that people will lie to pollsters about being willing to vote for a black candidate when, in fact, they do not intend to vote for the black candidate) and other issues of racism in the campaign. One ongoing theme is the link between John McCain and George W. Bush. This includes links about economic policy, the war in Iraq, and other similarities.

At times, Huffington Post seems almost paranoid and sensationalistic. Many of the columnists are still fixated on the 2000 election and charges that the Republicans cheated. George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney are blamed for almost everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of the world, even when it seems that there is no logical connection between the Bush administration and what they are being blamed for. These angry and often personal attacks on the Bush administration over petty things undermine the credibility of the website.

Intersections
One of the strongest themes on the Huffington Post is that politics affects everything. Almost every story that is presented on the Huffington Post is delivered in the context of a political perspective. Stories about Hurricane Ike, for example, focused on the problems that happened during Katrina and the failure of the Republicans, including McCain, to solve the problem. Stories about a crime are presented as a political problem which requires a political solution. For the readers of Huffington Post, politics is not an intersection. Politics is the main street that connects everything else. Even the humor part of the website is still focused on politics.

It will be interesting to see how the Huffington Post changes after the election, especially if Obama is elected President and the Democrats gain total control of Congress. So many of the stories that appear on Huffington Post are about the mistakes of the Republicans or the problems caused by George W. Bush. It is hard to imagine what the writers of the Huffington Post will discuss if they do not have George Bush and the Republicans to blame for all of the world’s problems. For some, Obama may be too moderate and may not implement changes fast enough or far enough. This could lead to some interesting columns that are similar to what is posted now on a regular basis.

Works Cited
HuffingtonPost.com. 27 October 2008. <http://huffingtonpost.com>

Quanticast. “HuffingtonPost.com”. 27 October 2008. <http://www.quantcast.com/huffingtonpost.com>

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