Washington D.C. – On July 18, 2011 Arianna Huffington was the guest speaker at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, and considered the queen of online journalism by some, had a message for the attendees of the luncheon. She needs help.
Journalism delivery is undergoing a metamorphosis with the advent of the internet age. This is most notable by observing readership trends. The Huffington Post was launched on May 9, 2005. In just 6 years its readership has overtaken more traditional media outlets that have been around for decades. Today, the Huffington Post is as relevant of a new source as is the “New York Times” or the “Wall Street Journal.”
More importantly, journalist themselves are evolving in the internet age. Gone are the days of the reporter reporting to the office, pounding the streets for a story and making the deadlines. Now anyone can be a journalist, and Huffington refers to these aspiring reporters as a “citizen journalist”.
Today, “citizen journalists” are able to can uncover a story, record the story, and upload the story to an electronic media base within a matter of minutes. News happens in the blink of an eye. Now, anyone armed with the technology of today, can report the news just as fast.
One example of this is Governor Chris Christie’s scandal of taking the state helicopter to his son’s ballgame. The coverage was provided by a citizen journalist, and within minutes of the event happening, the video was being seen on CNN.
Huffington is leading this transition from “old media” to “new media” with her Huffington Post and demonstrating that by maintain journalistic values of accountability, honesty and accuracy, online media is an exceptionally viable business model. Now, Huffington wants to add lots more content. And for more content, she needs more journalists.
So, on July 7, the Huffington Post announced “OffTheBus”, its citizen journalism program with the goal of covering the 2012 election. Working with full time professional reporters, the citizen journalist will be providing their unique insights in the political process while also receiving guidance and input from the Huffington Post.
Within 48 hours of launching “OffTheBus”, over 600 people signed up to be a part of the Huffington Post. Huffington explains this interest in blogging and citizen journalism quite simply “self-expression has become the new entertainment and a source of fulfillment.”
And, she is right.