It used to be that blogging for The Huffington Post was special. It was like being invited to a large cocktail party where lots of ideas were discussed by literate people. Not everyone was invited. You had to contact an editor and demonstrate your qualifications.
And even after getting into the party, editors reviewed your blog before it was posted. People like me – someone who is a journalist and nonfiction author – rarely waited long for that approval. But it showed that someone cared, and was watching.
As in all good parties, bloggers also could find those circles where they fit in. You could designate the issue area for your blog, and you could append tags to help it gain traffic.
Of course, as a Huffington Post blogger, you also were searchable on Google, and you were archived.
All of this now is gone. In an effort that does nothing for its existing bloggers and devalues our contributions – unpaid at that – The Huffington Post has decided to open the party to everyone, no questions asked.
The only wrinkle is, you’re not actually allowed into the dining room where the cool kids are. No, you are restricted to a side porch – what Huffington calls the “contributor platform.”
Here, you and thousands of other bloggers will be shouting into the ethos, but no one will be listening. Your work will not be searchable on Google. You will not be able to designate an issue section for your blog, or even have the ability to tag your work. (At least I couldn’t find a way to tag my work.)
You will be out there in the media-verse, just another lone voice. And no one will vet these contributor blogs. The only guarantee of civility will be the invitation by Huffington to send an email if you’re offended. I don’t think bad prose makes the cut.
There is one avenue of salvation – if through your own relentless self-promotion, you get enough attention a Huffington editor might notice and promote you. This, presumably could also happen if an editor thought your post was good enough to deserve extra attention. In the past, I’ve been fortunate that several of my blogs were promoted by Huffington’s very good religion editor.
I admit, I was skeptical about this move when bloggers were asked to move last year. And I resisted using it until the old platform was shut down. I suspected that the change would not benefit bloggers. I just did not realize how damaging it would be.
At a time when we’re overwhelmed by unfiltered commentary and fake news, The Huffington Post could have continued to serve the public. The site chose a different option. Sad.