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Wednesday 6 July 2011

The Self Expression Step Change

[Update at end of post]

Today brings a major news provider, aggregator and blog host to our shores, as the Huffington Post launches its UK edition. The established part of the Fourth Estate may well be in attendance – I suspect that the broadcast media might just manage an invite – but the focus will be on the newcomer.

So what will be new? Well, news will still be broken and reported as it is with other on-line sources, as will aggregation from a number of providers. But what will differentiate the HuffPost will be its army of commenters and above all bloggers. As I now have a minor involvement in the latter category, let me briefly explain.

Critics of the HuffPost – and when you have a successful product in a competitive marketplace, you never have a shortage of those – make all manner of accusations about the presence of unpaid bloggers. But this fails to address the counter arguments: there is no compulsion on those blogging to produce copy, bloggers retain copyright to their posts, and they can reach a far wider audience.

In other words, this is a win-win arrangement. And the enthusiasm and variety brought by those bloggers – you only have to take a look at the US site to get a feel for this – shows up the blogroll at UK papers like the Daily Mail (and even Maily Telegraph) as short on both.

Moreover, it puts the burner under the tired array of overpaid and dubiously talented hacks, especially those at the Daily Mail. Why should on-line viewers stop by to read the turgid and unfunny ramblings of dinosaurs like Littlejohn and Letts when they can find more original and challenging content elsewhere?

So that is why many bloggers have signed up to produce content – some more occasionally than others – for the HuffPost UK. And it is why I will soon be en route to Euston. As the old media navigates its way through not merely eventful but turbulent times, the new media and its culture of self expression is poised to move centre stage.

More on the Huffington Post UK launch later!

[UPDATE: The Huffington Post UK must be doing something right, as the loathsome Toby Young has been unable to resist the temptation to put together a snarky blogpost about the launch. When Young, who commended the "Rally Against Debt" to his readers and then failed to turn up, makes adverse comment then you know you're on a winner. Also, his clear distress indicates that he didn't get an invite to the launch party]

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