10 January 201012 May 2010 Main Posts the future of online journalism Jeff Sparrow The web is, don’t you know, going to save that endangered species, the newspaper. At least, that’s the theory — and, of course, the model that everyone’s looking to is the Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington’s phenomenally successful bloggy-papery thing. Almost all the commercial online publications in Australia look increasingly Huffington-like: have a glance, for instance, at News Corps’ Punch. Huffpo generated such excitement because it seemed to have achieved the impossible: establishing a commercially successful online outlet, publishing serious and even vaguely progressive content. The problem is that, the closer you look, the more illusory the achievement seems. The parody frontpage really nails it, I think: the Huffpo model rests upon aggregating content from other sources (in a way that’s clearly not sustainable more broadly, since somebody has to actually, like, write the damn stuff), generating most of its traffic through tabloid trash (naked celebs, etc) rather than its serious articles, and convincing sundry filmstars, rock singers and other celebrities to blog for free. Huffpo is now probably sufficiently hegemonic to remain viable. But one doubts very much whether the same thing can be said for its legion of imitators. At the end of the day, if online journalism has a future, someone is going to have to come up with a model that actually pays journalists to produce content that people want to read, rather than just getting mad clicks through naked film stars. Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.