Arianna Huffington Says the Future of News Is Free

At the Monaco Media Forum lately, two competing business models for journalism were put forth by two industry leaders: Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Mathias Dopfner, CEO of the German media conglomerate Axel Springer. In lieu of watching their hour-long debate, read on for a summary of their arguments.

The Huffington Post is arguably the most forward thinking news business in terms of providing free content. Mrs. Huffington’s business model looks like this: she has about 70 full time staff, including marketing and advertising staff; paid content editors and about 3,000 bloggers and citizen journalists who contribute to the Huff Post for free. All income comes from advertising dollars. Though she has never released her business ledger, Mr. Dopfner estimates the Huff Post makes between six and ten million dollars a year.

Axel Springer is a more traditional media company with printing presses and journalists on the ground. It too receives content and photos from citizen journalists, but differs from the Huff Post in that everyone who contributes to the end product is paid.

Dopfner of Axel Springer argues that his model is preferable, that fair rules and respect for copyrighted content must exist for the journalism business to remain sustainable. According to Dopfner, sustainability means not only financial profit, but the ability to produce quality news that reaches a diverse audience. Dopfner’s payroll, however, includes expensive line items like foreign correspondents. So who will pay? Subscribers, he says. Even when the content is online.

Huffington and Dopfner agreed that people are willing to pay for these six categories of information, seemingly whether online or in print: people with money and power, sports, games, the regional environment, and sex and crime.

Revenues generated from selling these topics could be used to fund more important, yet less popular stories on politics, public health, the environment, and so on.

For her part, Mrs. Huffington is developing the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, a non-profit collection of journalists who do investigative reporting in the Washington D.C. area.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Are we all multiple personalities of universal consciousness?

Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.

We’re all one mind in "idealism." (Credit: Alex Grey)
Mind & Brain

There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.

Keep reading Show less

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less