AOL-Huffington Post dealThere's nothing like a big media deal to spark commentary from the media. And indeed, there's been no shortage of reaction to AOL's (AOL) decision to purchase upstart news site The Huffington Post for $315 million, mostly in cash. The two New York-based companies announced the deal just after midnight Monday.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong says the deal "will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community and social experiences for consumers." And HuffPo co-founder and guiding light Arianna Huffington puts it this way: "By combining HuffPost with AOL's network of sites, thriving video initiative, local focus, and international reach, we know we'll be creating a company that can have an enormous impact, reaching a global audience on every imaginable platform."

What's the rest of the media world saying about the biggest deal to hit the strictly digital content business in quite a while?

Opinions from media columnists have ranged from praise to pillory and everything in between. The Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column says AOL's purchase of HuffPo "should end more happily for the target company's investors" than the TimeWarner-AOL linkup, which is often cited as one of the worst mergers in recent history.

More from "Heard on the Street":
For anyone focusing on Web content, buying up properties like Huffington Post and tech blog TechCrunch -- as AOL did recently -- is logical. But AOL is paying a hefty price.
CNET, which called the HuffPo announcement "shocking," says by its action, "AOL seems intent on convincing the world that it is deadly serious about reclaiming its place among the leaders of the digital media world."

More from CNET:
In addition to bringing together the HuffPo, Engadget, and TechCrunch, the move will also add other AOL properties including PopEater, Mapquest, Moviefone and others. All told, the idea is clearly that the group will offer content aimed at the widest-possible range of readers: politics junkies, techies, housewives, car nuts, movie freaks and more. By doing so, it will be well-positioned to take on the other leaders in the mainstream online media space, such as Gawker Media.
The New York Times' Dealbook says the purchase is yet further proof that AOL CEO Armstrong isn't shy about waving around the company checkbook, noting that the Dulles, Va., Internet pioneer has purchased more than a half-dozen companies in the last 20 months.

More from Dealbook:
The Huffington Post deals [sic], which represents Mr. Armstrong's most expensive move to date, is part of his larger strategy to reshape AOL into a content empire.
In its piece on why AOL wants HuffPo, The Economist's Newsbook blog dispenses with Armstrong's stated reasons for the purchase, which include womens' dominance in determining how discretionary income is spent and the effect influencers (such as HuffPo) have on buying decisions. Instead, Newsbook opines that AOL simply wants to attract more eyes to websites through online searches and HuffPo will provide that.

More from Newsbook:
The truth is that AOL's content is really meant to appeal to search engines, rather than humans of either sex. The company's model is to produce content of various types that scores well in web searches, attracting lots of readers who can then be bombarded with advertising. The champion of this approach is Demand Media, a so-called "content farm" that recently went public and is now worth more than The New York Times.
Reuters' Felix Salmon compares Armstrong's move to that of Si Newhouse in naming publishing veteran Tina Brown three times to lead efforts to reverse declining relevance and revenues at three titles: Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

More from Salmon:
Arianna Huffington is newer to this game, but Tim Armstrong is surely willing to throw even more money at Arianna than Si Newhouse threw at Tina. Armstrong needs this bet to succeed -- he's placed Arianna in charge of all his media properties, while telling everybody that AOL is a media company first and foremost.
In a piece titled "SEO Speedwagon," Slate media columnist Jack Shafer writes that he -- like other observers -- underestimated Huffington's ability to succeed in essentially repackaging pieces from other news organizations to draw traffic to her site. Shafer says Huffington is "not much of a journalist," adding she didn't let her lack of gravitas in the industry impede her.

More from Shafer:
[T]hose limitations actually gave Huffington an advantage over other sites -- Slate included -- that hewed to old-media standards. Old-media types don't feel right about rewriting the copy of their competitors and calling it a story. Huffington glories in carving the meat out of a competitor's story, throwing a search-engine optimized (SEO) headline on it, and posting it. She even claims to believe that she's doing the originator a favor by sending traffic back to it via a crediting link.
The New Yorker's Ken Auletta equates AOL's purchase of HuffPo to a "fourth-quarter Hail Mary pass."

More from Auletta:
But as Ben Roethlisberger reminded us in the Super Bowl yesterday, quarterbacks can go from hero to bum if they fail to get in the end zone. . . . But by placing AOL's content efforts under the Huffington Post umbrella, Armstrong demonstrates that he understands that AOL can't win by gaining a few yards at a time. He had to scramble and throw a long pass, and he has.
Finally, former DailyFinance media columnist Jeff Bercovici, who now writes for, says the AOL/HuffPo deal "is by far the biggest move that Armstrong has made in his time at AOL."

More from Bercovici:
And, while, it's certainly unexpected, it doesn't come entirely without foreshadowing: Three weeks ago, AOL made deals to outsource its content production in several areas, including sports and health, with Armstrong saying, "We're going to partner in areas where we have a better chance of winning with partners."
Bercovici also notes that AOL's share price took a hit in Monday trading on Wall Street in reaction to the deal, typical in merger transactions. AOL stock was down about 2.8% to $21.32 a share in mid-afternoon trading.

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Don 11

Every time I try to read an article on AOLs Huffington Post it freezes up or just will not load. A real piece of crap. Bye bye AOL I guess.

September 26 2011 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

not a fan or follower of Ms Huffington or Huffington Post- this will probaby the catalyst to finally leave AOL for good- its already become too political.

February 08 2011 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sue's comment

Oh no, politics! The misery of having to think for yourself and participate in the Democratic process! Poor little conservatards- your tiny little hearts break every time you have to leave the stands at Nascar and confront the big, scary world.

February 08 2011 at 11:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

“We made HuffPost and we are being abandoned,” one aggrieved reader wrote. “They will aim for the center. That’s where the big money is.”

And these liberal Huffers are smirking about the AOL members leaving. EIGHTY ONE PER CENT OF THEM ARE UNHAPPY TO THE NTH ABOUT THIS MERGER! Maybe they are selling their two stocks each in the company. Actually, not one single dime have they invested in Huffer in any shape form or fashion. Yet, they come to AOL trying to act like the big baboon new-on-the-block jerks and they are nothing but mouth. And this Armstrong guy has been so taken with this Huffer that he can't see straight. I can look it up but it seems that the board of directors must all wear liberal skirts or be men in the same boat as Armstrong.

February 08 2011 at 11:39 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to orbit7777's comment

You're right about Huffpo's membership being horrified at the merger. The last thing we wanted was this wormhole to the Paleolithic era, bringing hoards of Neanderthals to our forum. Rest assured, the liberal slant will remain intact. Centrists and righties just don't have the intellectual cajones to hold their own at Huffpo.

February 08 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I will not care for the new content, nor do I want to be part of her community, and last but not least NO SOICAL EXPERIENCE with the likes of her.

February 08 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to henshib's comment

ROFL- What do you expect? That Arianna Huffington is going to show up on your doorstep with a casserole to welcome you to the neighborhood?

February 08 2011 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
don henry

I am working as hard as I can to leave AOL network---I will encourage my friends to do the same

February 08 2011 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to don henry's comment

if the news starts to look like the old huffington post garbage from the website, AOL will lose me as a customer. Huffington is liberal far left and don't need that spin about news. They don't check their facts

February 08 2011 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jchip40's comment

You wouldn't know a fact if it b:tchslapped you. AOL's Limbaugh Lemmings will be fleeing in droves, no doubt. Do you really think the loss of your crappy little $4.50 will make a difference compared with the goldmine of Huffpo advertising potential? Go take a look at the Huffington Post right now (don't worry, nobody will bite unless you shoot your toothless mouth off in the comments section) and you'll see there is a dearth of advertising. And yet, the company was worth $315 million. Huffpo holds the cache of being the leading independent news outlet in the world, with the best cutting edge technology, and most informed and educated readership of any forum. Your presence actually devalues Huffpo. No one is going to try to stop you from leaving, trust me.

February 09 2011 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Huffington in. Me out! I will no longer be using AOL, and I don't think I am the only one. How can this make sense for AOL? I think they are just using the shareholders money to pay off a friend. The board should fire them!

February 08 2011 at 9:03 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The author should have titled the article, "AOL Jumps the Shark".

February 08 2011 at 8:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

AOL stock went down 3 1/2 % Monday. AOL has not turned a profit in many, many years

February 08 2011 at 8:11 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to marine1942's comment

And down, down, down she goes...............

February 08 2011 at 10:08 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Arianna will oversee all editorial content for AOL. Every "click" and each email you recieve on AOL is money in her pocket. Make your own decisions, but I refuse to line this evil traitor's pocket. I will stay long enough to spread the word--then I'm gone. Spread the word on every post you can!

February 08 2011 at 2:30 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rslpilot's comment

Thank you. A great deal of the Huffington Post's success is not only attributable to their reputation for providing accurate, unbiased news reporting, but also to the well-educated and informed discourse of their blogging community and commenters. We'd like to preserve the integrity of our social community, so your decision to opt-out is much appreciated. By all means, please spread the word far and wide across AOL.

February 09 2011 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply