Ken Doctor on What Newspaper Sites Can Learn From HuffPo

By: E&P Staff

As The Huffington Post approaches its fifth birthday, Ken Doctor notes in his weekly posting Thursday at Nieman Journalism Lab, it has broken into the top 10 U.S. news sites and its unique visitors are up 94% in the last 12 months, with a little more than 13 million uniques in March.

“That’s quite an achievement, both for a site that young and for one that employs only about a hundred people,” Doctor writes in his Newsonomics column. “As mainstream media sites struggle for growth in 2010 and proliferating startups look for formulae that can give them traction, what can we learn from HuffPo?”

Doctor says there are six learnings that can be taken from HuffPo. (Read the entire post here.)

* “Don’t forget the intangibility of brand.” In HuffPo’s case that’s the straightforward progressive political bent of founder Arianna Huffington.

* “Don’t overpay for content.” HuffPo could never be accused of that.

* “Embed yourself in the social graph.” : As CEO Eric Hippeau puts it: “We’re one part social network, one part news content site.” Says Doctor, “How many traditional news sites think that way?”

* “Niche, niche, niche.” HuffPo is now in four cities, has topical HuffPosts around interests such as books, and just launched a college site. But all keep that HuffPo feel.

* “Grow when others are cutting back: The site doubled its staff in 2009 – the year of the great recession – using new investment to move close to 100 employees.”

* “Play pinball” HuffPo, Doctor says, has expanded by “offering more and more like content to more and more like people; it’s a constant experimentation, but all in the direction of more.”

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