There’s no denying that Facebook has permanently changed the dynamic of marketing. Any marketing director for any business knows that they cannot thrive without a strong social media presence. This could be great for selling products, but what if the product is professional journalism?
Huffington Post always delivers top-notch cat videos, which is why it’s hard to criticize it over the fact that it always delivers cat videos. The problem with Huffington Post is that they have a brilliant marketing strategy, pandering to a society that has an increasing aversion to knowledge. Using clickbait headlines and breaking from objectivity, Huffington Post played all of their cards right to draw in exactly the crowd they want.
There’s no problem with entertainment journalism. That’s what we do at Whim every day. Frankly, with the integration of Facebook, you need to have an entertainment aspect or you won’t be able to keep an audience. However, you have to make the distinction between what qualifies as news and what doesn’t.
What doesn’t work is glossing over the beheading of an American journalist at the hands of ISIS in favor of posting numerous times about why looking at leaked nude photos of celebrities constitutes rape. It’s essentially selling out journalism for more clicks. It’s expected from Buzzfeed or Upworthy, but not from Huffington Post.
It’d be nice if that was the end of Huffington Post’s crimes against journalism, but it isn’t. They go the extra mile and hire the most hyperbolic examples of left-wing lunatics and give them a forum to shred the liberal ideology. I believe feminism is a great thing, yet when Huffington Post writers tackle the subject, it makes me temporarily revert back to the “make me a sammich” days of my middle school career. Their feminist articles go out of their way to make men seem like the worst thing on the planet, while women cheating can be written off as the man’s fault for failing to satisfy his woman.
Do you like doing things a certain way? Huffington Post says you’re wrong for doing so. They post a ridiculous amount of articles about why a certain way of thinking is wrong. More often than not, it’s about why society isn’t politically correct enough, but every now and then an interesting article pops up telling me that I’ve been eating cookies wrong this whole time and I can’t resist the click.
Then there’s the overwhelming number of seemingly pointless sections. One would wonder how they bother to keep them maintained, but it helps to explain the quality of their content. Sections like politics, world news, crime, or tech make sense to have in any publication. I’ll even admit to subscribing to their weird news section just to see what outrageous things happen in the world. Is there really a need for a section on divorce that can’t be lumped in with a less specific section? Or what about the sideboob section, which at the moment of writing this article features an article of Jennifer Lawrence flashing a sideboob at a film festival? I understand different writers can have different opinions, but it seems extremely hypocritical for a publication to leave that featured while blasting people for searching for the nude photos.
Huffington Post can be a powerful news organization like the Washington Post, or they can be a great entertainment publication like Buzzfeed, but currently they’re trying to be both and it’ll never work. They can sacrifice their journalistic morals for more subscribers, but they have to stop pretending like they’re still interested in being the news.