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The Huffington Post to Aggregate College News

Popular news and blogging site The Huffington Post has announced it will launch a college news vertical on Feb. 15, tentatively. The vertical will feature aggregated news from college media as well as student blogs, according to Adam Clark Estes, citizen journalism editor for theHuffington Post.

Estes said  the news aggregator could help fill the void left by Uwire’s sudden shutdown last year.

“Considering Uwire went under there’s kind of a whole to fill there,” Estes said. ” In general, we’re as interested in curating news as  we are curating a conversation around the news.”

The HuffPost is currently reaching out to college newspapers around the country, to build a partnership with publications. In exchange for offering content, student media would place a widget on their Web site listing top stories from the section.

Leah Finnegan, former editor of the Daily Texan, is currently in the process of contacting newspapers about the HuffPost partnership and Estes described the response so far as “overwhelmingly positive.”

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to get a hold of the national student voice,” Estes said.

I interned at the Huffington Post’s Washington DC bureau during the fall 2009 semester, and, in my opinion, this is a fantastic opportunity for college media outlets. Most university newspapers see relatively low online readership numbers with only a few thousand unique readers monthly at best. The Huffington Post draws millions of unique readers each month, which could provide not only a national platform for many student reporters but also a modest boost in online readers for college news organizations.

In short, having your story linked to on the Huffington Post or any big news aggregator can translate into increased traffic for your site.

And though clearly I’m biased, I agree with Estes — The Huffington Post’s expertise is not only curating news but fostering thoughtful conversations around it. To me, that’s the point of new media.

Of course, not everyone shares my enthusiasm.

A very lively debate on the Huffington Post’s move into the college media world took place on a Jan. 10 #collegeJourn chat,  with several student journalists expressing concern about the site’s new vertical.

Cody Brown, an NYU journalism major and founder of the NYU Local blog and adviser for CoPress, said student media outlets should stay out of a partnership with the Huffington Post.

“It’s hard to understand but the Huffington Post has a kind of excitement around it outside of NYC,” Brown said in a G-Chat interview. “It’s a popular Web site. It generates insane traffic because of SEO and these college publishers probably think that being associated with it will put them in the same light. It won’t.

“Going into a partnership with the Huffington Post where they can absorb your best stories into their feed, will effectively put a giant-green checkpoint between potential readers and your story.”

Suzanne Yada, online editor of the Spartan Daily at San Jose State University, said she is still unsure if a partnership with the Huffington Post would be a boon for student newspapers, adding that the site is often perceived as being partisan.

“I’m still on the fence about it, ” Yada said. “I’m a little skeptical about putting that badge — the widget on the Web site. Other than hits and bragging rights, I feel like it could be a more beneficial relationship fo The Huffington Post than the college newspaper.”

Again, I would have to say I respectfully disagree. The Huffington Post’s status as a leading online news source could provide college reporters with the spotlight they deserve.

5 thoughts on “The Huffington Post to Aggregate College News

  1. Adam may be saying that the response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” but I was part of the collegejourn.com (not #journchat!) conversation on January 10 (Adam and Leah both came online toward the middle). I'm glad you included that conversation in your article because I think the sentiments of the student journalists in that chatroom, were anything but “overwhelmingly positive,” and I think it's important to take note of the pulse of people like them (dedicated and experienced student journalists).Personally, I think it's better for the HuffPo to be transparent about what they're doing (looking to colleges for more content) instead of touting the new effort as something that is for the benefit of the college papers (especially in view of the fact that college sites are required to place the HuffPo widget on their site).But overall, I think that it's good that HuffPo is reaching out to the college sites and having them join in the national conversation. I hope more sites do the same.Harumi Gondotwitter.com/hgondohgondo@upi.com

  2. Thanks for the post Jenna. Quick correction: it's the CollegeJourn chat, not the JournChat.My main beef is that they should be free to aggregate any college news they feel important without requiring the college to plaster a widget on their home page. Our college may not participate because of the political leanings of the site. Will we be punished because we want to be politically neutral? Also, editorially speaking, it's more fair and well-rounded to link to any college news item than to just use the limited pool of people that agree to the badge. HuffPo can create the college vertical and link to whomever they please. I think it's a good idea, generates traffic, reporters get bragging rights, etc. When they require the colleges to post the widget is where I have to stop and take a second look.

  3. Thanks for the post Jenna. Quick correction: it's the CollegeJourn chat, not the JournChat.

    My main beef is that they should be free to aggregate any college news they feel important without requiring the college to plaster a widget on their home page. Our college may not participate because of the political leanings of the site. Will we be punished because we want to be politically neutral?

    Also, editorially speaking, it's more fair and well-rounded to link to any college news item than to just use the limited pool of people that agree to the badge.

    HuffPo can create the college vertical and link to whomever they please. I think it's a good idea, generates traffic, reporters get bragging rights, etc. When they require the colleges to post the widget is where I have to stop and take a second look.

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