A trio of leaders in web journalism and marketing – including Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post – headlined a panel discussion before a crowd of almost 100 engaged audience members in the Leavey Center on Monday.
Huffington, Eric Hippeau, Huffington Post chief executive editor, and Kara Swisher (SFS ’84), co-executive editor of the Wall Street Journal’s “All Things Digital” website, provided their insight on the web revolution and the vitality of the Internet today.
Swisher, a prominent online journalist and former reporter for THE HOYA, kicked off the event by reflecting on her transition from a career as a print journalist to one as a blogger for the Wall Street Journal.
“I thought that newspaper and print journalism cared more about the media than the message,” Swisher said. “Traditional journalism has a fake objectivity.”
With blogging, she said, journalists are able to give reported analysis and express an informed opinion.
Huffington echoed Swisher’s thoughts on news media’s evolution from the page to the computer screen.
“The whole conversation was moving online,” she said when explaining her decision to create the web’s first-ever online newspaper. “Facts are sacred, but facts should not prevent us from clear commentary.”
Huffington went on to cite her mother as her inspiration for blogging and her mission in online reporting.
“She had no sense of hierarchy,” Huffington said. “She just believed that everyone should be able to converse with each other, no matter one’s social standing.”
Professor Gregory Coleman, a graduate professor in the McDonough School of Business, invited the speakers as a part of his class, “Special Topics: Internet Advertising and Marketing,” in the hope that students would form bonds and learn from the speakers’ experiences.
“The human relationship has a tremendous impact on your future,” Coleman said at the start of the event. “The relationships you develop over time are just as important – I personally think even more important – as the things you learn in class.”
All three speakers support Huffington’s ideal of community commitment, which calls for business ventures – specifically on the Internet – to be centered on a passion and a commitment to the worldwide
“It is a constant job to earn and keep the trust of our readers,” Huffington said.
Hippeau agreed. “What is your passion, what is your ideal? Money doesn’t come first. Those questions do,” he said. “Character, personality and timing – these are the keys to starting and impacting business.”
The audience included mostly graduate-level audience members, the majority of whom were students in Coleman’s class. Two different student project groups presented their own ideas and thoughts on Internet business and marketing and received direct feedback from the high-powered professionals.
Even the audience members who are not enrolled in the marketing class said they enjoyed the discussion. Tierney Sneed (COL ’11) said the event was worth attending.
“Though I am not an avid reader of The Huffington Post, I am considering pursuing journalism after college and appreciate the move toward Internet-based writing,” Sneed said. “While what Arianna Huffington had to say was interesting, I found Kara Swisher extremely illuminating, especially when she discussed the trends she sees developing in the world of technology.”
As rain poured outside Monday morning, Swisher summed up the impact of the digital world in humanity. “[The Internet] is a haiku of human emotions, seen in the ubiquity and sharing of information around the globe. Digital access is vital to the advancement of our community.”