Huffington Post, notorious for its leftist take on everything (they don’t really like conservatives over there), is undergoing a bit of downsizing. Well actually, a lot of downsizing. On Wednesday, Verizon Media Group, which owns Huffington Post and, get this, Tumblr, announced it would be cutting personnel by 7% across the board. Some of the first casualties were the opinion columnists at Huffington Post. Every single one of them – gone.
The move is perplexing. Their opinion content commands a lot of shares and authority in the leftist media hemisphere. “Hate Trump” is so in right now… isn’t it? Maybe not. There are studies and experts that believe Generation Z “is the most conservative since World War 2.” However, personal anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. Sure, younger people (get off my lawn!) like to be offensive and crack jokes that would make the (soon to be former) writers at Huffington Post cry and fire a slew of attack articles at them, but does that necessarily mean they’re conservative? As well, is this a trend for the whole group?
People are individuals and are shaped by the authority figures in their lives. Most teachers and educators lean to the left. It’s logical to assume the political influence kids get at school, like I did, is heavily liberal. So therefore, if school kids respect their authority figures and believe them, as most do, they will likely adopt some of their teachers’ views. Beliefs are like magnets. Once you have a few of one type, they attract more of those types of beliefs and repel opposing ideas. We are creatures of habit and like to stick to what we know, so changing minds is a task that requires overcoming a sort of inertia. School is one place the ideological foundations of society are built; its influence is undeniable.
If the opinion content at Huffington Post is popular – and it is – why would the company refocus on content they claim has more “engagement.” Is there anyone in the world that regards Huffington Post as a serious journalistic outlet? Are they implying that their “news” section (which is full of content you couldn’t honestly call neutral) has more engagement? That would be surprising.
It would probably be more profitable for Huffington Post to try and bring some balance to their content instead of abandoning sections of their platform. Being the cultural opposition, as conservatives currently are, brings with it a certain energy that propels businesses like Breitbart and Info Wars. It’s hard to tell both sides of a story from only one perspective, however, and they’d be wise to bring in truly conservative commentators. On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine they’d be willing to move on their company’s shared leftist thinking. That would be too smart. That’s why they’re in this situation – because they frankly aren’t that smart.
The people who read Huffington Post read it because they agree with the ideas the brand espouses and like to validate their beliefs and get angry when they read the articles. No really, it’s true. The opinion section is where those people find the content that affirms their biases in the most direct way. This increases brand loyalty and engagement. Considering that, disposing of the opinion section (which is what the whole site is anyways) doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I think this all has a lot more to do with the reckless way digital media companies run their businesses. For years, digital media companies have enjoyed a sort of bubble – but few turn a profit. Most of them live on borrowed money. If you can’t get a business off the ground without proving profitability before seeking capital – then don’t borrow. Ego supersedes logic for many of these people. It’s easy to see that – just lookup any one of their hundreds of articles talking about how diversity is more important than performance. What a ridiculous notion to believe in. While I take gratification from the fact that they are shrinking, I still can’t help but feel a little sad. Sad because there will be less ideological militants on the internet to disprove and embarrass (who am I kidding, they aren’t going away nor do they have shame).