Huffington started out with some best practices she has deployed in the short five-year history of Huffington Post. Transparency is key. Data is great, but storytelling is better. Find the buried lead. Don’t examine a story through a left or right lens – look at it from a neutral perspective.
Most notable was her point about staying true to your core principles while at the same time being open to adapting to new technologies. She advised the audience to stay on top of the Zeitgeist, because it is the way to move forward. Huffington practices what she preaches: the Huffington Post plans to launch a divorce section soon, and they are currently experimenting with hyperlocal sites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver.
Huffington’s opinion on how traditional media outlets will survive the digital age: embrace online. She notes the new media outlets that have prospered (HuffPo included) have taken cues from traditional methods of journalism – because it is not either print OR online – it is a hybrid of the two.
She also stressed the reality of social media in our 24/7 news cycle world: we use it to find solutions to problems in real time. Everyone from Snooki to John McCain is tweeting (to each other, it seems). Huffington encouraged audience members to use social media for change: in the form of tweeting at United Airlines to change their policy of showing movies while passengers are trying to sleep.
As an agency that follows the media industry closely, it seems like Huffington’s advice is on the right track. Embracing the characteristics that made traditional media companies successful in the past, such as quality journalism and loyal readers, will help them as they adapt with the times. Whether that means engaging with readers over Twitter or creating open comment forums, staying true to their core value proposition while adapting will be key in the media industry’s growth.