Huffington Post refutes ‘thesis of aggregators as pickpockets’

David Carr’s New York Times piece about proposed standards for aggregation landed with a thud at Huffington Post’s offices. A statement from the Internet behemoth says that had Carr “followed the journalistic tradition of asking those criticized in a piece for comment, we would have gladly supplied some relevant numbers” vis-a-vis the Web traffic it’s driven to publications it’s aggregated.

I’m not sure it’s correct to say Carr criticized the Huffington Post; he wrote that Advertising Age’s Simon Dumenco “went on something of a rant” about the publication after HuffPo over-aggregated a piece of his and noted that the Huffington Post apologized and suspended Amy Lee, the writer whose piece drew Dumenco’s ire.

In an email, Carr confirms he didn’t contact the Huffington Post. Because he was “aiming at two concepts in terms of attribution,” he writes, “space was tight. Could be argued that it would have been better column with somebody smart from there, like Tim O’Brien. He could have told me that HuffPo has evolved from its days as a roach motel that was easy to get into and tough to get out of.”

In the Huffington Post statement, printed in full below, spokesperson Mario Ruiz writes the piece left “the false implication that we had chosen not to be part of” Dumenco’s proposed Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation.

“I’m sure Dumenco would be happy to sign them right up for the Council,” Carr writes.

Statement from Huffington Post:

HuffPost has always been committed to properly crediting and linking to the work of others, contrary to the insinuations made in David Carr’s New York Times column yesterday. And, as Carr notes, we have readily admitted when we have fallen short of our own standards. But had Carr followed the journalistic tradition of asking those criticized in a piece for comment, we would have gladly supplied some relevant numbers — though perhaps he refrained from asking because he suspected those numbers might contradict his thesis of aggregators as pickpockets.

In the past 28 days, we’ve sent over 284,000 referrals to NYMag.com, due to stories we have linked to from our front page. In the same period, we sent more than 150,000 referrals to The New Republic. A great deal of that traffic was driven by having our top-of-the-page headline link directly out to Noam Scheiber’s terrific story on the Larry Summers memo and its effects on the American economy during Obama’s first term. Both of these instances, and countless others, reflect a fundamental HuffPost tenet: even if we had an unlimited budget to produce unlimited original content, we would still aggregate, because our goal is to direct our readers to the best available stories — whether they were created by our reporters, editors, and bloggers, or by others.

As to the Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation — the newly hatched watchdog group featured in Carr’s column — we were never invited to join, something we would have told Carr had he asked, rather than leaving his readers with the false implication that we had chosen not to be part of the effort.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Kennedy/1813701 Dan Kennedy

    I love this: “HuffPost has always been committed to properly crediting and linking to the work of others, contrary to the insinuations made [by] David Carr.” Uh, no. Carr never said otherwise. The issue is whether HuffPost blurbs so much of what it’s linking to that you have little incentive to click. (Note: I’m a HuffPost blogger.)

  • Anonymous

    Funny, HuffPo linked to one our our articles recently with the exact same headline and lede and even though the link was right, it attributed the piece to a different publication. 

  • http://twitter.com/AwesomeWelles_ Elliot Adams

    “HuffPost has always been committed to properly crediting and linking to the work of others” It became absurd in the first sentence, didn’t read further.

  • http://twitter.com/ChandlerWrites Tom Chandler

    Odd that HuffPo didn’t provide us with numbers about the amount of revenue shorn from readers before they clicked those links…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504633504 Dan Mitchell

    re·fute/riˈfyo͞ot/ Verb:

    Prove (a statement or theory) to be wrong or false; disprove.
    Prove that (someone) is wrong.