Media Scholar Tells Howard Kurtz 'Huffington Post's a Bigger Threat to Journalism Than Google'

University of Virginia media professor Siva Vaidhyanathan on Sunday said the Huffington Post is a bigger threat to journalism than Google.

Such occurred during a discussion about the internet behemoth on CNN's "Reliable Sources" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Does Google help or hurt news organizations that actually pay reporters? You don't have to, if you're not so inclined, go to "The New York Times" Web site or CNN.com. You can search for the one thing on the one story whether it's Egypt or the Wisconsin budget battle, and you can find it through Google.

Does that hurt news organizations?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDIES, UVA: I think, ultimately, that sort of environment helps both citizens and news organizations in the long term, largely because there's certain organizations -- particular news organizations that will do well in this environment are those that choose to understand Google. So look at how organizations like "Huffington Post" have excelled. Even "The New York Times" have excelled in terms of getting Web readership since search engines, Google in particular, became the dominant way we find information.

Those organizations have learned to master the environment. Now, that has positive and negative effects.

KURTZ: By which you mean, for those who are not computer savvy, they have learned to use certain phrases, keywords, headlines that will attract, that will lift them up in the Google rankings, and attract traffic, which is how they sell advertising.

VAIDHYANATHAN: And the bad way of looking at that is that "Huffington Post" is gaming the system. The good way is "Huffington Post" has figured out a model to attract a lot of attention.

Of course, I think the biggest threat in journalism is actually "Huffington Post," because it's actually taking and attracting attention for its advertisers and repositioning the work done by local news organizations. That 's a very different environment.

KURTZ: So Arianna is a threat to us all?

VAIDHYANATHAN: I think "The Huffington Post" is a much stronger threat to local journalism and to independent journalism organizations than Google is. Google actually does nothing but help, as far as I can see.

KURTZ: Well, maybe that's why AOL paid $350 million for "The Huffington Post."

Indeed. What Siva didn't mention was another difference between Google and HuffPo is that the internet behemoth pays its employees.

It goes without saying that a huge threat to professional journalism today is Huffington's model of not compensating many of its contributors.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.