Under normal circumstance, this edition of Week in Review would have been devoted to the hijinks of Super Bowl Sunday and the subsequent (over) examinations of the ads that we loved and loved to hate. (Could you believe those Groupon ads? And wasn’t that Darth Vader kid cute?).
But alas, the powers that be had other plans this week. Upon waking up from a Super Bowl stupor on Monday morning, the media world was atwitter (and ON Twitter) about AOL’s acquisition of The Huffington Post. Reaction to the news was decidedly mixed, with a bevy of critics both supporting the move, calling it a “smart risk” (Henry Blodget, Business Insider) that will help AOL obtain a “clear editorial voice” (Felix Salmon, Retuers), while also criticizing it as “soullessly commercial” proposition (Jemima Kiss, The Guardian) that ultimately serves as an admission of AOL’s failure to devise a viable content strategy (Shira Ovide, The Wall Street Journal).
Perhaps the most insightful and valuable commentary on the acquisition came from Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at CUNY. According to Jarvis, what AOL will find most valuable in HuffPo will not be content, but a “new cultural understanding of media that is built around the value of curation, the power of peers, the link economy, passion as an asset, and celebrity as a currency.”
Moving on to the world political stage, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned his office today, giving in to 18 days of mass demonstrations calling for his removal and democratic reforms. The debate continues to roil over the role social media has played in fomenting this revolution and the media's reporting of it. Andy Carvin, a senior strategist at NPR working on digital media, has become well known in the past three weeks for his non-stop curation of the Egypt protests via his Twitter streams, turning himself into “a personal news wire for Egypt.” In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Carvin argued that curation– the process of capturing the bulk of a story from various sources and then passing them along – has always been a part of journalism. According to Carvin, “…curation itself isn't new; it's just the way that some of us are doing it online that's fairly new. The tools have evolved, but the goal of capturing a story and turning people's attention to it isn't.
Finally, in the world of snarky blogdom, Gawker officially launched its redesign, which, according to Nieman Journalism Lab, “reflects a more magazine-style emphasis from a purer blog format. The Lab’s Megan Garber captured what the move means particularly in terms of Gawker’s advertising strategy, explaining how it’s appropriated parts of the TV and magazine models to capitalize on its brand as a whole: ‘It’s moved, it seems, beyond simply selling its readers to advertisers. Now, it is simply selling itself.’”