Credibility is nice, but revenue is nicer. That seems to be the unspoken message behind the Huffington Post's decision to replace its CEO, Betsy Morgan, after less than two years on the job. Paid Content reports that Huffpo's new CEO will be Eric Hippeau, a managing partner at Softbank Capital and member of Huffpo's board. Hippeau is also a former CEO of Ziff-Davis Media, where he "was early to recognize the trend toward on-line media," according to his online bio.
Morgan, who is leaving the company, came to Huffpo from CBS Interactive, where she was senior vice president and the general manager of CBSNews.com. At the time, hiring an executive from a major established news organization was seen as a significant coup for the then two-year-old news aggregator-slash-blogging community. Huffpo already had traffic; what it needed was legitimacy.
Now it's a different picture. Although it continues to seek ways to burnish its journalistic credentials -- most recently with the establishment of a $1.75 million fund underwriting investigative reporting -- Huffpo no longer has to worry about being taken seriously, having persuasively demonstrated both its influence and its scoop-getting ability throughout the 2008 election cycle. Meanwhile, the struggles of entities like The New York Times Co. and NPR have shown that old-media prestige only gets you so far.
Only last week, Morgan and Huffington were together at the Mirror Awards, where Huffington accepted a lifetime achievement prize from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Communications. Morgan was on the host committee for the event. But they didn't sit together: Huffington, of course, was at the head table, next to her presenter, Howard Dean, while Morgan had a surprisingly bad seat way off at the end of the room.
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