AOL continues spending spree by purchasing HuffPo for $315 million

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HuffPo does have certain key contributors (like Sam Stein, Jason Linkins, and most recently, former Newsweek political reporter Howard Fineman), but it still relies heavily on linking to other news stories.  It's success lies in the fact that it also covers a lot of pop culture, and not simply political issues (If it did I'm not sure it would be as successful).  Included in that are always a few sexually suggestive links (which on today's site include "Top 5 ways to go from  'datable' to 'matable.')

Tech blogger Kara Swisher wrote this about the sale last night:

While it all makes for a riveting narrative by the charming Armstrong, AOL still has not delivered the business turnaround promised after after its spinoff from Time Warner in 2009.

At this point it's hard to predict what this will mean, other than to us it shows that AOL is determined to try to reach the heights of Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and all the superstart Internet properties.  And apparently they've got the cash to do it.  We do think Patch is admirable, but of course they're betting on people wanting to go to the Internet to read more about their local communities because theoretically papers like the Times and the Tribune are now ignoring them due to cutbacks in the newspaper industry.  Who knows how it all shakes out?

The major media news of this morning is AOL's purchase of the Huffington Post. This will make HuffPo founder and owner Arianna Huffington an even bigger player in the national media landscape, as she will now take control of all of AOL's editorial content as President and Editor in chief of the just created Huffington Post Media Group.  She will also give her control of other AOL properties like MapQuest and Moviefone.

For AOL's Armstrong, this is just another big move on his part as he tries to rebrand the former Internet powerhouse into a major player again.  First and foremost in that strategy has been Patch, where AOL has spent at least $50 million over the past year or so investing in local news reporting i(CL reported on that last November.)  AOL Patch has numerous sites in the Bay area, and 700 nationally.  And along with Bloomberg, they have become one of the few media organizations anywhere that has actively been hiring reporters.

But as Ken Auletta reported in the New Yorker recently last month, a lot of experts in the media world aren't really sure if AOL Patch will ever catch on to the extent that AOL and Armstrong believes it will.

Meanwhile  HuffPo, the left-leaning so-called liberal alternative to Matt Drudge has become one of the most successful news aggregating sites since its creation in 2005, with 25 million unique visitors each month. (As to who actually did create it is the subject of a lawsuit that was recently covered in Vanity Fair) This move now gives them the chance to feature more originally reporting, albeit from a local angle.

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