As part of the AdTech conference yesterday, a gaggle of press got together to talk to Huffington Post Media Group's Arianna Huffington, a. k. a my bosses' boss and Tim Richards, VP of Ad Sales at AOL West Coast. While the cupcake and jelly bean-embellished media roundtable was billed as a discussion about vague stuff like "how to move and engage audiences" and the "importance of being authentic" we ended up talking lawsuit, layoffs and the difference between a blogger and a writer real fast.
In the video Huffington, who is extremely charismatic, talks about her goal of setting a clear editorial direction for AOL, which now has 107 brands and 56 editorial properties post-Huffington Post acquisition, "Within a year you won't be able to tell whether a site originated as an AOL site or a Huffington Post site."
She wants to turn AOL into what she calls "the media company of the 21st century," through a convergence (heh) of the best parts of traditional media and online journalism, "to bring together the best of the old world: fact checking, accuracy, fairness, and design and the best of the new world: realtime, immediacy and transparency."
When asked how this grand vision squared with former Engadget editor Paul Miller's assertion that AOL had "its heart in the wrong place with regards to content," Huffington responded:
"He was talking about a time that is very different from what we are doing now. All these things preceded what we are doing now and a lot of things preceded Tim Armstrong being the CEO of AOL. One of the problems with a company that has had a relatively long life on the internet is that everything has been subsumed under the AOL brand and a lot of things really don't belong any more."
The whole interview is filled with gems like this. If you're a fan of online media and tech it's worth watching through the entire 56 minutes and 40 seconds but if you don't have the time jump to minute 53:17 when Twitter's Biz Stone randomly walks just as Huffington is talking about acquisitions (which aren't "imminent" she says), "Right now I'm so focused on working with what we have." I believe it.