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HuffPo joins the media “big leagues” but the other teams are still swinging for the fences

Say one thing for Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau: He knows how to create a quote.

“We are now in the big leagues and in order to make the needle move, we have to do impactful things,” he told paidContent.org’s Staci D. Kramer during a recent interview. Appropriate as we head toward the World Series.

However, Hippeau was referring to the HuffPo’s dramatic expansion into technology, books, social media, business and other coverage topics. With annual growth of unique views running at 50 percent, the HuffPo traffic exceeds the WashingtonPost.com. It’s greater than the LA Times, or the online edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Big names indeed.

But just as Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast, said in a Q&A I referred to here, Hippeau declined to extend the direct comparison to mainstream newspapers. “We’re not in a race with the newspapers. We’re not in a race with anything in particular. Our goal is to establish the brand that defines news and opinion on digital platforms.”

Hippeau continued. “We tell stories about current events in real time, so we’re very fast, we create—we help create instant opinion, so instant news and instant opinion.”

As a fan of the HuffPo, it is refreshing to see impactful digital innovation in the media. That doesn’t mean the Web site is immune to the troubles dragging down their cousins in newspapers and magazines.

“We collectively as an industry are going to have to come up with innovative, tech-driven ways for people to advertise,” Hippeau said.

I read these statements even as I am enjoying David Rohde’s gripping first-person series in the New York Times, “Held By The Taliban.” 

In his narrative, Rohde relates the torment he experienced and the insight he gained into the Taliban and Pakistani cultures during more than seven months of captivity. His courageous reporting offers an opportunity for the public to better understand the challenges the U.S. military faces in that part of the world, as well as the factors being considered as Washington re-evaluates policy toward that part of the world. Oh, and don’t miss the video and blog elements of this package.

If anything in mainstream media deserves to go viral, it is this series.

So HuffPo, have you entered the “big leagues?” Sure, and it’s a good thing too. But the other teams have some pretty heavy hitters as well.

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